by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Glenn Youngkin and the Republicans’ Tuesday victories in Virginia are proof of concept that the left’s commitment to waging the culture wars on school children and their parents can prove deadly even in a blue state — and Republican politicians who ignore the consultants and follow their voters will follow them to victory.
That isn’t what we’ll hear from liberal Republicans, Never Trumpers, and their consultant-class friends, though. …
… It’s true, Youngkin is a member of the wealthy Republican class (and looks it). It’s also true that Trump fatigue is real among many of the Virginia voters Youngkin needed to win. But if Younkin had acted like a member of his class, he would have lost the primary; and if he hadn’t embraced the culture war Trump fought everyday with the vigor of a true believer, he’d have lost the election.
So let’s look at the facts: While Youngkin had conservative instincts from the outset, he put them aside, instead basing his calls on the high-dollar consultants in his ear. Early in the campaign, his speeches focused on grocery taxes and the like, and steered clear of critical race Theory, abortion, and lockdowns. He even frequently appeared at public events dutifully wearing his mask.
So long as his consultants held sway, he languished. But Virginian voters had seen what was going on in their children’s classrooms, had been shut down by school board apparatchiks, and had even been threatened with arrest for complaining. They were in no mood for Romneyism.
Everywhere Youngkin went, he saw that the energy was with the crowds — and they dragged him to his conscience. The decision to overrule liberal consultants and sign a pledge against critical race theory was the first indication of change — and a change in his own momentum that saw him beat out the favorite for the nomination.