Gigi Sohn's political activism could influence her regulatory approach
Telecommunications experts worry that President Joe Biden’s decision to put a career political activist on the Federal Communications Commission could transform the agency into a bludgeon for the administration to attack conservatives.
Gigi Sohn has called for expanding the FCC’s authority to investigate and regulate conservative networks. She has suggested that one of the leading conservative broadcasting companies should not have a broadcast license and founded a nonprofit that is actively lobbying cable providers to drop the right-wing One America News Network (OANN).
Sohn could soon have the power to act on these radical positions, which some say is cause for concern.
“There’s reason for concern she’d take punitive action against conservative voices,” one telecommunications expert told the Washington Free Beacon.
Katie McAuliffe, the executive director of the pro-market nonprofit Digital Liberty, said Sohn has one major outlet to hamstring conservative media: She could “use the broadcast licensing regime to challenge someone’s use of the airwaves.”
Television networks need to obtain an FCC license to broadcast on the air. The agency has the authority to revoke licenses it has already issued. If confirmed, Sohn will be one of five commissioners who rule on broadcast licensure.
Sohn has throughout her career indicated where she falls on this issue. After right-leaning network Sinclair in 2018 called off a merger with Tribune Broadcasting, Sohn questioned whether “Sinclair is qualified to be a broadcast licensee at all.” She has also called for congressional investigations into Fox News for broadcasting “few if any opposing viewpoints.”
Licensure is not the only area in which Sohn has called for more aggressive FCC intervention. She last year endorsed the activist group Free Press after the group petitioned the FCC to make greater use of the “broadcast hoax” rule, which allows the agency to intervene when broadcasts cause “substantial public harm” to the public interest.
Free Press says that former president Donald Trump’s statements on the coronavirus could violate the “broadcast hoax” rule. The petition specifically names the former president’s March 2020 claim that “I hear the numbers are getting much better in Italy.”
Sohn is a longtime progressive activist known for her “personal relationships with power players all over the capital,” according to The Hill. She cofounded Public Knowledge, a nonprofit that “promotes freedom of expression” and “an open internet.”
Public Knowledge president Christopher Lewis told the Free Beacon that the organization has no interest in government mandates against protected speech but said, “It’s hard for us to fight for free expression when there’s so much disinformation.” Although the group is working to pull OANN off the airwaves, Lewis asserts that the group remains committed to “free expression and promoting diversity of content.”
The Free Beacon reported this month that OANN has thrown its weight behind Sohn’s nomination in the hopes that she will be an ally in disputes with cable carriers.
Sohn faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where she is expected to appear on December 1. Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) has called her “a hack” and vowed to fight her nomination. One source tells the Free Beacon that three or four Democratic senators are considering opposing Sohn because of her support for net neutrality.
Day by day, President Joe Biden grows more unpopular. His approval rating coming into office was north of 50 percent. According to a USA Today/Suffolk poll released earlier this month, it’s now at 38 percent. Yet congressional Democrats are willing to throw their seats away in the next election by sticking with his program.
In a rational world, the collapse in Biden’s approval rating—and of Vice President Kamala Harris, who’s at 28 percent, according to the USA Today/Suffolk poll—would send a signal to Capitol Hill that its current occupants need a course correction. It hasn’t because today’s Democrats don’t understand politics any more than they understand economics.
Biden’s decision Tuesday to release 50 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a perfect illustration. This administration has made several decisions throughout its tenure that make it harder to take advantage of the nation’s indigenous energy resources. America was a net exporter of oil when Biden entered the White House. Now it’s dependent once again on imports.
That’s driving up the price at the pump. A rational person would read that fact as a signal that we need a dependable increase in supply. “Drill baby drill,” if you will. Instead, the president is injecting a dose of crude into the marketplace in an amount so small it will not make a difference in the price. And, even if it does manage to bring the price down by a penny or two, it will probably last for less than a week.
What the Democrats don’t get is that their ideas just don’t work. Socialist regimes cling to power by tyrannical, totalitarian means—but as a way to organize an economy, socialism has failed in every place it’s been tried.
Somehow the leaders of the modern Democratic Party can’t seem to figure this out. They’d be happy to extend indefinitely the unemployment payments they increased during the lockdowns the government imposed in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID.
There would not be enough space in this column to list every example of the Democrats’ distorted thinking. But the American people are waking up to the reality of the Biden presidency. If the Democrats want to survive as a political party that can win national elections, they’d be well-advised to make a change now.
If they don’t, they run the risk of descending into irrelevancy outside of a few states and major cities. Even there, though, the failure of their agenda is gaining notice. People are moving away from Chicago and New York and Los Angeles because—except for the Riordan years in L.A. and the Giuliani-Bloomberg decade in New York—Democrats are still trying public policy prescriptions that didn’t work in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s are still being tried. Now that Democrats are trying those ideas on a bigger scale, they still don’t work. And they’ve added brilliant new wrinkles into the mix—like defunding the police abolishing the pre-trial detention of criminal suspects.
You wouldn’t accept from your doctor the kind of results Chicago schools routinely offer parents regarding the education of their kids. You couldn’t. You’d be dead. Meanwhile, the city’s Democratic leaders continue to resist any alternative that could generate improvement, like expanded school choice.
The nation is split, badly, in many ways. These divides don’t just separate people according to race or income levels but by faith, by location and even by the way they understand the meaning of the American experiment. To many, including the big-government socialists who run the party today, it’s not worth saving. They believe it was compromised from the beginning and should be tossed out on the ash heap of history.
Fortunately, many others—including likely a majority of America’s 330 million people—believe the country’s best days are still ahead. While hardly perfect, if we work together, we can make things better for everyone.
That’s a message that starting to resonate with the electorate. Real reform is coming where it’s needed from the Republicans who, while hardly perfect, are nonetheless making considerable strides. Note the number of elected officials now on the scene who are something other than elite, middle-aged, upper- or upper-middle-class white Protestant men.
The incoming Virginia lieutenant governor is a black woman. The new attorney general who will serve alongside her is the son of Cuban refugees. The most powerful Democrat in New Jersey—Senate President Steve Sweeney—lost his seat to a truck driver who spent just $2,300 on his campaign. The winds of change are beginning to blow. The challenge for the GOP now is to develop a meaningful plan to create that change around which it can build back better a consensus supporting its efforts to lead the nation out of its doldrums and on to better things.
The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.
Soon after Special Counsel John Durham indicted Igor Danchenko, the “Primary Sub-Source” of the Steele dossier, on five counts of lying to the FBI, the press paused to feign a moment of public introspection. The corrupt media’s attempt to frame their failings as mere confirmation bias, however, holds no truer than the Russia-collusion hoax they peddled for five years.
The proof of this reality is seen in the prostitute sex tapes: the non-existent “golden showers” one and the verifiable, but ignored, Hunter Biden videos.
The first step of what appeared, at least momentarily, to be the kick-off of a mea culpa parade came earlier this month when the Washington Post amended large segments of two articles covering the Russia-collusion storyline, one from March 2017 and the second from February 2019.
Both articles had named Sergei Millian, a Belarusian-American businessman, as the individual identified as “Source D” in the Steele dossier. While Millian had long denied speaking with Danchenko or having any role in the dossier, it was only after Durham charged the Russian-born Danchenko and former Brookings Institute employee with lying about receiving a telephone call from Millian that the Post and other media outlets removed the claims.
Then, last week, The New York Times ran a “guest essay” by professor of journalism and former Columbia Journalism School dean Bill Grueskin, headlined, “How Did So Much of the Media Get the Steele Dossier So Wrong?”
To Grueskin the problem was multi-pronged. Grueskin’s prologue to why “so many were taken in so easily” was simple: The dossier seemed to confirm what they already suspected—a corruption of Donald Trump that spanned “from dodgy real estate negotiations to a sordid hotel-room tryst, all tied together by the president-elect’s obeisance to President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”
From there, Grueskin listed the problems, which amazingly all belonged to Trump. Trump “had long curried Mr. Putin’s favor” and “he and his family were eager to do business in Russia.” Then there was Trump’s choice of Paul Manafort as his campaign chair that “reinforced the idea that he was in the thrall of Russia.”
Adding to the perfect storm that explained the press failures, Grueskin posited that “journalists also had to deal with the fact that many of the denials came from confirmed liars.” Further complicating the matter, Grueskin wrote, was that “some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump, and didn’t want to appear to be on his side.”
Here, Grueskin quoted from former Times reporter Barry Meier’s book “Spooked”: “Plenty of reporters were skeptical of the dossier, but they hesitated to dismiss it, because they didn’t want to look like they were carrying water for Trump or his cronies.”
Bunk. The corrupt media did not fall for the Russia collusion hoax. They were part of it.
How else to explain the scathing email Jake Tapper sent BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith after the latter published the dossier? “I think your move makes the story less serious and credible[.] I think you damaged its impact,” the CNN anchor wrote.
On that point at least, Tapper was correct. The actual dossier—as opposed to select excerpts or word-smithed summaries pushed by the anti-Trump press—“was a laughably fake document.” When the public saw the “source,” they didn’t buy it, and, really, neither did the press.
For all corporate media’s ex post facto efforts to rationalize why they “fell” for the dossier, only one holds true: They didn’t like Trump, personally or politically.
Now, Joe Biden, they like. So when weeks before the November 2020 election, when The New York Post published multiple stories revealing damaging information recovered from an abandoned laptop bearing a Biden Foundation sticker, social media silenced the story and corporate media spun it as Russia disinformation.
The same folks who supposedly bought anonymous claims that Trump had paid prostitutes to pee on a bed the Obamas had once slept in found the actual videos of Hunter Biden with prostitutes unbelievable. Likewise, we are to believe Trump’s supposed shady business deals made the dossier plausible to the press, while unworthy of the media’s trust were genuine emails discussing a 10 percent cut reserved for the “Big Guy” as part of a Biden family deal being plotted with a Chinese energy giant.
And we are to suppose that the press that pushed the Russia collusion hoax did so hesitantly and out of a desire not “to carry water” for Trump and his cronies, all while they carried Biden over the finish line, where he now sits as the commander-in-chief across the virtual table from China’s Xi Jinping.
Sure, now the corporate media is expending some effort to report on Hunter Biden’s partnership in 2016 with a Chinese state-backed company that gave the communist organization ownership of an African cobalt mine. That profitable investment by the younger Biden gave China control over much of the world’s production of cobalt—an essential element for electric car batteries. With the Biden administration’s latest spending proposal earmarking billions for promoting electric vehicles, we now see reporters beginning to probe whether the president’s son remains a financial beneficiary of that deal.
But that the corrupt media turned a blind eye to the evidence of a China-Biden scandal in 2020 lays bare the lie that journalists fell for the dossier and the Russia-collusion conspiracy theory because of a confirmation bias. There was no confirmation bias in play—it was collusion, pure and simple.
“Patience: (noun): the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like; an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay” (Wikipedia).
Here we are: The fate of the nation is at stake; we wait helplessly as events slowly develop, triggering a breathlessness in our chests, and the waiting goes on. And then along comes Thanksgiving, exhorting us to give thanks!
“For what?” we think – “for the biggest mess since the presidential election of 1824, when the House elected John Quincy Adams instead of the more popular Andrew Jackson. You gotta be kidding!!”
We feel totally dependent for outcomes on other people. 99% of the general population have not interviewed anyone who is making decisions for the Biden’s or the Congress or the Federal Reserve . We are totally dependent on others for news and views of what is going on in our nation, and we have no means of validating the truth of their claims.
So, with no other choice, we take another look at giving thanks. Surprisingly, there is a great deal of food for thought in that direction. First, we can give thanks for living in a country which seeks to decide fundamental disputes peacefully. We can also be thankful that there is in fact a chance for every citizen to express a choice for all the individuals who will exercise power over our lives, as well as to vote for that choice.
We can be thankful that the nation cares enough about protecting the right to have each citizen’s vote be counted to go through a harrowing trial such as last year’s election results.
There are other life experiences also which merit our gratitude. High on this list is the fact that the American culture we live in so values personal freedom that it is the hallmark of our political identity. Americans will tolerate intrusions on their personal liberty — as the COVID lockdowns have recently demonstrated – but only so far, as the “recovery” has also proven.
This is not a virtue won by anyone now living. but rather one which was formed and passed down to us by those who came before us. Our contribution is to adapt our freedom to contemporary conditions and to pass on an updated sense of our national treasure to those who come after us.
Yes, giving thanks is good for the soul (and the blood pressure!) Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
A lot is going on in Washington right now that’s of momentous import, but the nation’s capital is not the only place making news. In California last week, legendary comedian Mort Sahl shuffled off his mortal coil at the age of 94.
Largely forgotten now, in the age of Eisenhower, Sahl was to political humor what “Saturday Night Live” has now been for several decades. Standing on stage, hip and cool, in a sweater and clutching a newspaper, he’d riff on current events in ways no one before him had managed to do. He was a giant of American humor and he changed stand-up for all time.
His passing is relevant today because he was, in his own way, the target of the cancel culture of his day. He came at things on a slant, undermining the conventional mores that contributed so much to the blandness of the 1950s. Sahl shook up the establishment. Not, perhaps, as much as Lenny Bruce and others would later do, but enough that his act clearly presaged the national shift toward youth and vigor represented by the Kennedys and Camelot.
Back in those days, the entertainment establishment was largely conservative. Network executives concerned about offending the heartland shied away from anything edgy. Their concerns allowed the McCarthy-inspired blacklisting of television and motion picture performers to briefly flourish. It was a sad time that shouldn’t have been forgotten.
It appears it has. Look no further than the vitriol directed at Dave Chappelle and Netflix over his latest special because he poked fun at some transgender shibboleths. It has led to calls for Chappelle to apologize, to be censored and to even be excommunicated from the business—and for Netflix to apologize.
Chappelle hasn’t caved and refuses to grovel. More power to him. Humor is very much a part of our humanity. There’s nothing out there we should be afraid to joke about—even things some people find grossly offensive. It’s part of who we are and it helps our common American civilization evolve.
The culture of political correctness is killing comedy. That’s a bad thing, and not just because it goes against the free speech culture that has contributed so much to making America an exceptional place. It also places limits on how we can talk about ourselves, our similarities and our differences. Putting restrictions on comedy impedes cultural change.
With that in mind, consider another instance in which cancel culture prevailed. In the late 1960s, the two-man comedy folk act The Smothers Brothers got a variety show on CBS. Aside from its stars, Tommy and Dick Smothers, its production team included people who made American humor what it is today. The Smothers may have still been brothers without the support of performers and writers like Steve Martin, David Steinberg, Rob Reiner, Bob Einstein, Lorenzo Music, Carl Gottlieb, Stan Burns and others, but they wouldn’t have had a hit show.
The “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was edgy without being offensive. It addressed tough issues like the Vietnam War, the developing drug culture, the increasing demands for female equality, the role of the police in society and the emergence of youth with wit, charm and creativity.
The public loved it but, as students of American humor know, both the Johnson and Nixon White Houses took much of what they did on-air as a personal affront. Bowing to political pressure, as David Bianculli brilliantly recounted in his book Dangerously Funny, the network began to put restrictions on the brothers that made it hard for them to do the show they wanted to do.
Eventually, the cancellers won and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was canceled. The brothers sued CBS and won, but the damage was already done. There was no turning back, even though the network gave them another show many years later. What people miss is that while canceling the show did not make the brothers any less funny, it did make the rest of us a little more sour.
Every year but one since 1998, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has given out the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to someone who has “had an impact on American society in ways similar to” Mark Twain. It’s been given to Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, the aforementioned Dave Chappelle, Neil Simon, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and others who’ve made the nation live while also making it think.
It would strike a much-needed blow against cancel culture if the next award were to be given to Tom and Dick Smothers—not just because they made us laugh, but because they stood up in defense of the integrity of comedy and the way it acts as a mirror of society. If there’s anything more Twain-like than that, I can’t think of it.
Who will speak for ordinary Americans?
In 1959 the British novelist C.P. Snow delivered a lecture at the University of Cambridge entitled “The Two Cultures.” Snow’s topic was the gradual separation of scientific knowledge from humanistic knowledge, and the dangers of educational specialization and technical illiteracy. Snow was not a disinterested observer. Trained as a chemist, he had a foot in both scientific and literary culture. He argued that educated citizens once understood reality through shared vocabulary, symbols, and concepts, but the common culture of the past had diverged into competing intellectual tribes. The separation harmed not only the individual intelligence, but also our collective ability to survive the nuclear age. His talk, later published as a book, became the standard text in debates over the relation between science and literature, and between technology and morality.
Snow sought unity. Scientific and literary culture shared a common ancestor—what might be called the “Ur-culture” of Western civilization. This unstable mixture of Jerusalem and Athens produced modernity, with all its benefits and costs. Not long after Snow described the “two cultures,” however, the very idea of culture itself came under attack from artists, intellectuals, activists, and students for whom democratic capitalism was spiritually unsatisfying and politically and economically unjust. These various challengers and dropouts thought of themselves as a “counterculture,” a self-conscious movement against the premises and values of Snow’s two cultures, as well as those of the original “Ur-culture” of the West. Free love, rock ‘n’ roll, the Hippies, the Yippies, druggies, various communards, the student revolt, the soixante-huitards—another name for the counterculture is “the Sixties.”
“Countercultural challenges to orthodoxy take different forms at different times,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1994, “but a common substratum of attitudes and belief is discernible.” Counterculturalists feel alienated from their societies. They are estranged from, suspicious of, and antagonistic toward the ideals of their civilization. They experience outrage and indignation at the institutions that perpetuate corrupt values and social injustice. They fixate on sex—how it is regulated, who defines normality and abnormality, where children are raised and schooled. They succumb to enthusiasm and fanaticism, to crankery and conspiracy. “When in the grip of a countercultural passion,” Kristol explained, “one can easily lose or repress the ability to distinguish the nutty from the sensible.”
The Sixties, of course, are long gone. The various parts of that decade’s counterculture have either disappeared or, following Kristol’s terminology, been incorporated into the “orthodoxy” of liberal democracy. The most radical experiments burned themselves out. Countercultural theorists feathered their academic nests. Hippie attitudes and aesthetics proved compatible with consumer society. Crime, welfare dependency, and divorce receded. This integration of “bohemian” and “bourgeois” reached its apogee in 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
The year is worth noting. Just as it looked like one set of problems were solved, other crises appeared on the horizon. The Black Lives Matter movement grew during the protests in Baltimore over Freddy Gray’s death in police custody in the spring of 2015. Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of the July 2015 Vanity Fair, heralding the next debate over sexual identity and mores. That autumn, high-profile incidents on the campuses of Yale and the University of Missouri marked the arrival of “cancel culture.” And Donald Trump crisscrossed the land on his circuitous route to the White House.
Suddenly, the modified orthodoxy of liberal, “Bobo” democracy—what’s come to be known in some quarters as “neoliberalism”—faced a countercultural challenge of its own. Liberal principles of free markets, internationalism, democratic government, individual rights, and the rule of law trembled under pressure. What made this latest countercultural rebellion unique was its pincer attack. There used to be one counterculture. Now there are two.
The left counterculture—what critic Wesley Yang calls the “successor ideology“—sees the United States as fundamentally corrupt and irredeemable, a zone of grotesque violence against racial and sexual minorities, a systemically racist polity desperately in need of censorship, reeducation, and massive government intervention to rectify centuries of brutality and oppression. The left counterculture’s alienation from mainstream society is expressed in its polemics and jeremiads. Its indignation was manifest in the riots over the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Its revisionist attitude toward sexual codes is evident in the Black Lives Matter platform’s (now revised) call to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” and in the centrality of transgenderism to its worldview. The left counterculture proves time and again George Orwell’s dictum that there are some ideas so foolish that only intellectuals will believe them.
The right counterculture, meanwhile, sees America as on the verge of collapse, on the brink of secession and civil war, a frightening place ruled by a bureaucratic-woke-medical-corporate “regime” not unlike the former Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The alienation of the right counterculture from modern America is apparent whenever its spokesmen demean and defame their fellow countrymen, say their country is lost or not worth saving, and look to foreign strongmen for guidance and succor. “Indignation” cannot begin to describe the right counterculture’s outrage at the direction of society, at the limits and frustrations of politics, at the bewildering tempo and fevered temper of current events. This rage at modernity, along with corrupt leadership and social media conspiracy theories, produced the riot in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The right counterculture’s uneasy conscience over the events of that day is visible in its attempts at historical revisionism and blame-shifting. It too is focused on the family, peppering its discourse with references to the baby bust, lack of male marriage prospects, and threats to childhood innocence and traditional religious values.
Our two countercultures, separately and together, correctly identify weaknesses and flaws in twenty-first century liberal democracy. But they mistakenly view these problematic conditions not as discrete challenges but as totalistic indictments. They marry disinterest in empirical reality with utopian expectations from politics. They collapse the distinction between private and public that guarantees political, economic, and religious freedom. As they consolidate control over their respective institutions, they silence dissent and promote victimhood, hopelessness, paranoia, and fear.
Ordinary men and women are caught in the crossfire of this three-front war between the left counterculture, the right counterculture, and the rest of America. Facing the curse of inflation for the first time in decades, the American who fills up the tank or buys groceries must experience something like despair as he watches the attempts to cancel Dave Chappelle, remove statues of Thomas Jefferson, promote quackery about the coronavirus, and pledge allegiance to a flag carried in the battle of Capitol Hill. Who will speak for normal people, for Americans who love their country, who desire nothing more than ordered liberty and the opportunity to better their conditions and raise their families in stable environments? Who can triangulate between the countercultures of left and right and the real silent majority of Americans, who would like nothing more than the extremes to go away?
“The delicate task that faces our civilization today is not to reform the secular rationalist orthodoxy, which has passed beyond the point of redemption,” Kristol wrote in his essay on the Sixties. “Rather, it is to breathe new life into the older, now largely comatose, religious orthodoxies—while resisting the counterculture as best we can, adapting to it and reshaping it where we cannot simply resist.” The contemporary task is somewhat different.
As religious affiliation declines, and as some orthodoxies enter into concordats with nationalists hostile to democratic capitalism, the priority must be the vigorous and nonsectarian promotion of what were once called “middle-class values”—moderation, civility, empiricism, prudence, humility, restraint, and reverence for the law—and the families that transmit these values to the next generation. Only a sober and reflective defense of the constitutional order and sustained attention to the priorities and aspirations of everyday, nonideological men and women will allow us to resist the two countercultures. Before they bring America down with them.
Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has been caught using social media to steer voters to fake news sites that give favorable coverage to him while disparaging his Republican opponent, retired business executive Glenn Youngkin.
According to published reports, McAuliffe’s campaign has spent well into six figures on the project, utilizing a campaign tactic that is increasingly frowned upon by political commentators and news officials who consider it dishonest.
McAuliffe’s campaign purchased Facebook ads that redirected viewers to third-party websites that have all the appearance of local news outlets but which in fact publish purposefully slanted stories and what some reports described as “partisan propaganda.”
One site, reportedly operated by the McAuliffe campaign itself, is a Facebook page called “The Download Virginia,” launched in June 2021. Though the name resembles that of an online news outlet, according to Fox News it has not published any posts or photos and has little more than 100 followers as the election entered its final week. An analysis of data on the Facebook Ad Library Report projected spending of nearly half a million on ads distributed by the page since it was launched.
A July advertisement including positive comments about McAuliffe’s views on small business linked to an article published by a third-party website called the Virginia Dogwood, a website designed to like a local news outlet claiming to publish “credible, fact-based reporting.” In reality, the site was operated by Courier Newsroom, a group founded and funded by progressive billionaires supportive of the big government socialist agenda who reportedly include George Soros, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and several Hollywood movie producers. After it began operating, the Courier site network was allegedly purchased by the group Good Information Inc., a company whose stated mission is to fight “disinformation” by investing in local news companies but who, at least one published report said, shared overlapping donors with those involved in getting the Courier Newsroom project up and running.
Up to this point the Facebook ads, Fox estimated, have been viewed by as many as 3.5 million potential voters and others while McAuliffe, himself a former Virginia governor, and Youngkin slug it out in what most expect to be the closest election the commonwealth has seen in some time. The latest polls have the two in a dead heat.
The McAuliffe campaign also did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment, but the network reported that two advertisements that linked to another faux news page recently as last week were disabled after the network made inquiries.
The Democrat is running against Trump while Virginia voters worry about the education of their kids.
When Terry McAuliffe won the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia, he probably expected to defeat Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin without breaking a sweat. McAuliffe is a former Virginia governor with decades of political experience and countless connections. Youngkin began the race with little political experience and less name recognition. Yet McAuliffe clearly is sweating the gubernatorial race, and for good reason. The polls show Youngkin surging to a tie with him and suggest that the Republican is making inroads among crucial voter blocs whose support McAuliffe can’t afford to lose. According to a Monmouth University poll published October 20, for example, Youngkin has gained considerable support among independents and women:
The biggest swing in support from Monmouth’s last poll comes from independent voters, registering a 48% to 39% lead for Youngkin now compared with a 37% to 46% deficit in September. Youngkin has also cut into McAuliffe’s advantage with women voters. The Democrat currently has a narrow edge among women (47% to 43%), down from a sizable 14-point lead last month (52% to 38%).
In addition, Republicans are far more engaged and are widening their enthusiasm advantage:
This metric stood at a 13-point Republican advantage in prior polls — 34% GOP to 21% Democrat in August and 44% to 31% in September. That disparity has grown to a 23-point chasm in the current poll — 49% GOP to 26% Democrat.
These numbers clearly indicate that Youngkin enjoys growing momentum at a point in the race when McAuliffe has little time to turn the tide. Normally, the presence of a recently-elected Democrat in the White House could offer some assistance, but President Biden’s approval numbers are underwater by nearly 10 points according to the RealClearPolitics average. If Biden campaigns for McAuliffe next week it will likely depress Democratic enthusiasm. Nor is it helpful that the only black politician ever elected governor in Virginia, Douglas Wilder, has chastised the McAuliffe campaign for illegally playing an electioneering ad featuring Vice President Harris in black churches. The Washington Examiner reports that Wilder said, “If this is legal, then it’s surprising to me.”
Former president Obama has also cut an ad for McAuliffe in addition to campaigning with him on Saturday. Even if this increases the number of votes McAuliffe receives, it’s unlikely to be enough to offset his politically untenable position on public education. His campaign has failed to overcome the ill will he created among voters by declaring, during the final gubernatorial debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” McAuliffe has attempted to spin his way out of that blunder, but the voters are just not able to unhear that startling assertion. He is now trying to change the subject to … Trump. In a recent interview with WJLA 7News he responded to a question about the proper role of parents in education with a 237-word periphrasis ending thus:
Glenn Youngkin has a Donald Trump Betsey DeVos plan. He has said publicly many times he will take money out of public schools and put them into private. The Washington Post just did an editorial and three independent reviews have been done on Glenn’s plan: 43,000 teachers will be cut in Virginia.
WJLA reporter Nick Minock put this to Youngkin who dismissed it as a sign of desperation:
I believe Terry McAuliffe is doing what you would expect from a 43-year career political operative when he sees the race slipping away is he doesn’t want to run against me. He wants to do anything he can to change this to a race against somebody else. And the reality is that it’s Glenn Youngkin on the ballot.
This description of McAuliffe’s campaign is all too accurate. During one 12-minute CNN interview conducted on October 10, he mentioned former President Trump no fewer than 18 times. This got so awkward that host Dana Bash joked, “I’m glad I have two cups [of coffee] here, so I can keep drinking when you mention Donald Trump’s name.” He rarely makes a speech without calling Glenn Youngkin “a Trump wannabe.” And, when asked about his controversial contention that parents should not tell schools what to teach, he invariably avoids answering the question by reciting the conspiracy theory about Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. This makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that Youngkin is correct about McAuliffe’s increasing desperation.
Perhaps the most embarrassingly desperate act of the McAuliffe campaign, however, was its ridiculous attempt to smear Youngkin as a sleazy showbiz crook who somehow bilked singer Taylor Swift. The Daily Beast informs us that the McAuliffe campaign actually invested in a series of digital ads on Facebook in which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate asks, “Did you know that Republican candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, helped buy Taylor Swift’s masters out from under her when he was co-CEO of the Carlyle Group?” This blockbuster revelation, in the unlikely event that it is true, presumably sewed up the Taylor Swift constituency. It isn’t clear, however, that this burning issue will be enough to get McAuliffe over the top in the Old Dominion.
In the end, McAuliffe’s last best hope is that the federal bureaucrats who have colonized northern Virginia will vote in large enough numbers to save him. That’s how he won in 2013. In 2021, however, those voters have something in common with Youngkin’s supporters — they are parents who want their children educated rather than indoctrinated. Moreover, many of the school board protests that have made national news occurred in Fairfax and Loudoun counties in northern Virginia. Most of those protests have been against the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. Glenn Youngkin has pledged to ban the teaching of CRT on his first day in office if elected governor.
A Fox News poll published on October 14 found that a 57 percent of Virginia’s parents believe they should tell schools what to teach, and that only 40 percent of likely voters agree with McAuliffe’s stated position. If these numbers accurately reflect the attitude of the Commonwealth’s voters, particularly as they relate to those residing in the state’s northern counties, it is entirely possible that Virginia is about to send former Gov. McAuliffe and the Democratic Party in general to school.
And the need for a conservative education agenda
A single exchange may decide the Virginia governor’s race. At one point during a September 28 debate, Republican Glenn Youngkin slammed his opponent, former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, for vetoing a 2017 bill that would have allowed parents to remove their children from courses studying sexually explicit material. McAuliffe shrugged off the criticism. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” he said.
If you live in Virginia, as I do, then you have heard McAuliffe saying those words approximately a gazillion times on television, where they are replayed ad nauseam in one of Youngkin’s most effective attack ads. The former Carlyle Group executive and political newcomer clearly believes that grassroots outrage at the educational system will provide him the winning margin in what is now a tossup election. On the banner of Youngkin’s website is a tab that reads “Parents Matter.” Among the items in his “day one game plan” is a promise to ban instruction in “Critical Race Theory” (CRT). “This is no longer a campaign,” Youngkin recently told a crowd in Winchester, Va., according to the New York Times. “This is a movement. It’s a movement led by parents.”
It sure is. The question is where the movement is going. So far, the revolt over politically correct and anti-American curricula has produced more heat than light. Loudoun County, Va., the epicenter of this latest populist rebellion, has become a stand-in for national polarization and tribalism, as the left-leaning school board engages in bitter fights with well-organized parents. Several states already have banned CRT, including materials based on the New York Times’s “1619 Project,” a factitious revision of U.S. history whose absurd premise is that the American Revolution was fought to protect slavery. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s politicized Justice Department has promised to investigate threats against school boards and educators. No one seems able to agree on what, exactly, CRT is, but that doesn’t really matter for either side. What matters is the fight.
If it propels Youngkin to Richmond, then, the debate over education may end up looking like a wasted opportunity, a moment for serious thought and policy creativity that was frittered away in exercises of mutual fear, loathing, and contempt. For example: Even if we can agree on a definition of CRT that doesn’t inadvertently include fair-minded social studies in slavery, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement, expunging this balkanizing and corrosive ideology from schools is just a first step. There is more to be done.
Yet the rest of Youngkin’s education platform is vague. It includes keeping schools open, “Restoring High Expectations & Getting Every Student College or Career Ready,” “Rebuilding Crumbling Schools, Raising Teacher Pay, & Investing in Special Education Programs,” and “Creating at least 20 New Innovation Charter Schools across the K-12 Spectrum to Provide Choice.” In a July speech, Youngkin pledged to retain advanced math courses and reimpose pre-McAuliffe standards.
This smallball is not new. Of the four character-shaping institutions of family, faith, neighborhood, and school, conservatives have had the least to say about education. They lament its sorry state. They say it is not a federal responsibility even though the Department of Education remains standing after both Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich vowed to eliminate it, and no one calls for the repeal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. They rightfully and productively expand homeschooling and school choice, without paying close enough attention to the 90 percent of students who attend some 100,000 K-12 public schools across the country. They somewhat reluctantly went along with George W. Bush’s efforts to impose school standards in the 2000s but did not know where to turn after the collapse of the test-based accountability model of education reform.
Former secretary of education William J. Bennett often speaks of the “three Cs”: choice, content, and character. The Youngkin plan gestures toward choice, issues vague calls for less politicized, more rigorous content, and overlooks character entirely. This final omission is a shame because, in its malign and counterproductive way, CRT or “antiracist” curriculum is itself a form of character education.
Progressives have long treated the public school as the place where children receive the knowledge, traits, and habits necessary for life in a modern democracy. Today, in the worldview of the education establishment—what Bennett calls “the Blob”—that means teaching to the lowest common denominator and avoiding or downplaying assessments under which some students fall short. It means inducing feelings, depending on the student, of shame or self-esteem. It means reducing individuals to physical characteristics, fostering the idea that these characteristics determine most if not all life outcomes, and dividing the world between oppressor and oppressed. Is it any wonder that the institutions premised on such ideas tend to mold individuals with guilt-ridden, suspicious, agonistic, fragile characters who can’t read or write or perform basic math?
Ambitious conservatives have to think bigger. Try improving teacher quality through licensing reform. Charter schools can be excellent, but what about incentivizing learning pods and investing heavily in Career and Technical Education? Last year, my American Enterprise Institute colleague Frederick M. Hess sketched out a fulsome education agenda in the pages of National Affairs. The ideas are there. Someone needs to pick them up.
And soon. In the absence of leadership that provides alternatives to liberal programs, conservatives assume a negative attitude and defensive crouch on issue after issue. Education is no exception. Progressive outrages spawn populist backlashes that may block the most egregious initiatives and embarrass their most radical proponents, but in the end not much changes. Why? Because conservatives are unable to agree on specific and lasting measures to reshape the institutional structure in ways that improve social conditions and restore civil peace. This isn’t conjecture. This is the failure to repeal Obamacare in 2017.
“A populist upsurge always points to very real problems that ought to be on our political agenda,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1972. “But populism itself usually misperceives these problems, and the solutions it proposes are, more often than not, illusory.” It would be a partial and ultimately unsatisfactory outcome if the parental revolt over the high-handedness and lunatic wokism of the educational system exhausts itself, like the Tea Party movement of the 2010s, in a combination of electoral victory and policy defeat. Time for Glenn Youngkin to hit the books.
Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in 2019 that implementing a “diversity” and “inclusion” curriculum is “just as important as your math class [and] your English class.”
“We’ve got to do a better job in our education system. … Early on, we’ve got to start teaching, talking about these issues, much earlier than we’ve done it before. We don’t do a good job in our education system talking about diversity, inclusion, openness and so forth. We don’t,” McAuliffe said in a 2019 interview on C-SPAN’s “After Words.” “We got our textbooks, but you know there has to be a big part of ‘how do you fit in into the social work of our nation and our fabric?’ How is it that we deal with one another is to me as important as your math class, your English class and so forth.”
McAuliffe joined the show to promote his book “Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism” and demand change to combat the “racism” that he claimed was plaguing the nation.
“Elected officials need to lean in on these issues because racism is prevalent today in this country,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe has repeatedly denied that critical race theory is taught in the state even though, while he was governor from 2014-2018, the Virginia Department of Education explicitly pushed public schools to “embrace critical race theory” and “engage in race-conscious teaching and learning.”
More recently, communications obtained by Judicial Watch indicate that Loudoun County Public Schools made a long, coordinated effort to ensure that critical race theory was institutionalized despite public opposition. In one email, LCPS Superintendent Scott Ziegler tried to calm concerns from parents about racist teachings by claiming that the “Rumors Concerning LCPS Equity Work” are confusing critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching. When Ziegler tried to distinguish between the two, he merely affirmed that the district was asking “employees to examine their own personal biases and how they might affect student instruction and interactions with the community.”
“Concepts such as white supremacy and systemic racism are discussed during professional development,” he wrote. “LCPS has not adopted Critical Race Theory as a framework for staff to adhere to.”
A three-judge federal panel has tossed out the legislative district maps passed by the Democrats who control the Illinois State Legislature and signed in law by Democratic Gov J.B. Pritzker because they violate the principle of “one person, one vote.”
The decision is a stunning rebuke to those who hoped to use the legislature’s map-making authority to plunge the GOP into permanent minority status in Illinois. The court found the maps, enacted through the signature of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker even before the final U.S. Census data was available, created districts that were too dissimilar in population to be allowed to stand.
The court did not, as the Illinois Republicans who sued to have the redistricting plan overturned hoped would be the case, order the creation of a bipartisan commission to redraw the lines, Capitol News Illinois reported Thursday. Instead, it mandated the use of a second set of maps approved by the governor later in the year as a “starting point” for a new effort a line drawing, one in which those who had challenged the process that produced the disputed lines could participate.
In its decision, the court rejected the idea legislative maps could be found to be unconstitutional just because the majority party drew the lines to protect its interests. “To be sure, political considerations are not unconstitutional and courts are reluctant to wade into, much less to reverse, partisan maps, including those that amount to political gerrymanders,” the judges wrote, citing a 2019 U.S. Supreme Court case. “And we are not so naive as to imagine that any party in power would decline to exercise levers available to it to maximize its opportunity to retain seats in the General Assembly.”
Politics in Illinois is a blood sport. The first plan the Democrats who control the legislature drew and Pritzker approved was intended to eliminate as many GOP-held seats as possible. It was a naked exercise in political power, an explicit attempt by one major political party to destroy the viability of the other. The court likely looked askance at Illinois Democrats’ use of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to do this rather than waiting on the final numbers, whose release was delayed until mid-August by the pandemic.
Waiting until they had the final numbers, the Democrats argued, would have conflicted with a requirement in the Illinois Constitution that maps be produced by June 30. While true, that complaint ignores how, if the deadline passes without maps having been approved, the constitution provides for the creation of a legislative committee formed for the specific purpose of producing new maps. And, because it is officially bipartisan, allowing the process to go to the commission level would boost the GOP’s opportunity to influence the outcome.
The lawsuit challenging the lines filed initially by the Republican leaders of the General Assembly urged the court to declare the maps unconstitutional and, Capitol News Illinois reported, “because no constitutional maps had been enacted by June 30, order the formation of the bipartisan commission required under the Illinois Constitution.”
A second lawsuit filed by a group of Hispanic voters in the Chicago area represented the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund asked the court to declare the maps unconstitutional and for the court itself to order a remedy.
“The June maps are unconstitutionally malapportioned, and the September maps are illegal in a different way which is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in terms of the racial gerrymander,” MALDEF staff attorney Ernest Herrera said the court made clear the Democrats’ maps are illegal.
Herrera’s concerns suggest the fight against the maps will continue. State GOP leaders nonetheless called the decision a “victory. Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a joint statement issued after the decision that “The court’s ruling validates all the concerns that were raised during the Democrats’ unconstitutional attempt to gerrymander Illinois.”
The three-member panel’s decision, which may yet be appealed, applies only to the plan for redistricting the Illinois General Assembly. It does not touch on the constitutionality and legality of the proposed congressional map that, despite Illinois losing one congressional seat due to reapportionment, would boost the Democratic delegation to 15 seats from 13 while the number of Republican seats would be reduced from 5 to 2.
Former governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill to block sexually explicit books from schools
Independent Women’s Voice, a Virginia conservative women’s advocacy group, created the ad and bought airtime late at night to reveal the existence of the books. They were rebuffed, however, from airing the ad by ABC, CBS, and NBC. The networks said federal law prohibits them from showing pornographic images. But the books, which have pornographic images and descriptions of sex and pedophilia, are still available in school libraries
The battle between parents and public schools over curricula has been a fraught issue in the nation, particularly so in Virginia during the gubernatorial election. Critics have attacked Democratic candidate and former governor Terry McAuliffe for permitting sexually explicit material in schools and calling parents’ concerns over the teaching of critical race theory a “racist dog whistle.”
Parents have expressed outrage at the permissive stance that the state, its school board, and localities have taken on pornographic reading material in schools. In September, a Virginia mom confronted the Fairfax County School Board for allowing pornographic books in school libraries. She read excerpts and showed pictures from the books, one of which showed a fourth-grade boy performing oral sex on a grown man.
The board later removed the books from the school system pending a thorough review. But the books, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, are still available in school catalogs in neighboring counties such as Loudoun County, Arlington County, Alexandria County, and Montgomery County, Md.
McAuliffe in 2016 vetoed a bill that would have prevented students from having to see such sexually explicit material in schools. The so-called Beloved bill, which was named after a parent objected to sexually explicit content in the eponymous novel by Toni Morrison, would have allowed parents to review and opt out of engaging with sexually explicit books that might be shown to their children.
McAuliffe at the time called the bill “unnecessary” and said the matter would be resolved by the Virginia Board of Education. In 2017, however, the state board rejected a similar proposal to allow students to opt out of engaging with sexually explicit reading material.
When asked during a recent gubernatorial debate about vetoing the bill, McAuliffe defended his decision and said parents shouldn’t have the final say about what reading materials are allowed in schools.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said. “So, yeah, I stopped the bill. I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Victoria Coley, the vice president of communications at Independent Women’s Voice, called the existence of federally prohibited pornography on school bookshelves “shocking.”
The following is a letter that Frontiers of Freedom President, George Landrith, sent to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 26, 2021, stating our opposition to the destruction of due process, the rule of law, and constitutional principles:
. . .
It is our understanding the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a markup to discuss S. 2428, the “False Claims Amendments Act of 2021.” On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of Frontiers of Freedom, we ask that you oppose this counterproductive bill as it does great violence to the rule of law. This bill would actually weaken the False Claims Act (FCA) and it would undermine due process and foundational rule of law principles that have made our nation a shinning city on the hill. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote to send us into a lawless abyss where government power will be regularly abused by imposing criminal sanctions using ever lower standards of proof and eroding due process.
It is worth remembering that on June 16, 2016 the US Supreme Court unanmously held in Universal Health Services v. United States, ex rel. Escobar, that the materiality element is “demanding” and “rigorous” and the FCA “is not ‘an all-purpose antifraud statute’ or a vehicle for punishing garden-variety breaches of contract or regulatory violations.” S. 2428 would undermine several important elements of our nation’s long standing legal foundations by lowering the burden of proof for the government and the evidentiary standards for materiality to the point where a defendant could be considered guilty until proven innocent and where a defendant could be convicted of criminal voilations of the law based not on a beyond a reasonable doubt standard, but on a perpondernace of the evience standard. Additionally, this legislation would apply retroactively — violating yet another important constitutional standard.
We ask you to vigorouly oppose S. 2428, the False Claims Amendments Act of 2021, during committee consideration. Given the rather grotesque constitutional violations contained in this bill, it should die in committee. However, if the committee reports the bill to the full Senate, we also strongly urge you to continue to oppose this bill. We will be scoring any vote on bill, including procedural votes, because it is too important to ignore. Our millions of members and supporters all across the nation will want to know who voted to support the rule of law and who voted to turn the Constitution on its head.
It is also worth noting that we support Sen. Cotton’s proposed amendment to remove all language from S.2428 except the Sec. 6 portion that provides for a GAO study of the benefits and challenges of the FCA and the effectiveness of the FCA.
Frontiers of Freedom
Stanley Kurtz calls attention to two developments he says indicate that zoning may be on the cusp of emerging as a high-profile political issue. The first is from Virginia. There, in the midst of the high-stakes McAuliffe vs. Youngkin race for governor, the conservative group Frontiers of Freedom Foundation is running an ad that highlights Terry McAuliffe’s support for Joe Biden’s plans to undercut single-family zoning.
The ad, which I found powerful, reminds voters that attacks on local control of zoning can come from states as well as the feds. In fact, this has happened in California which recently abolished single-family zoning. The anti-McAuliffe ad pointedly reminds Virginia voters of this news from California.
The second development is from California, where there is a move afoot to put a measure on the 2022 California ballot that would effectively nullify the abolition of single-family zoning. Although signature collection has not yet begun, Stanley points out that it’s relatively easy to secure a statewide referendum in California, especially on a high-profile issue like this.
This seems like a great opportunity to pull the issues surrounding affirmatively furthering fair housing out of the shadows, where the left has tried to contain them. As Stanley says:
California ballot measures draw national attention. A referendum on local control over zoning in the nation’s largest state would dramatically raise the profile of this issue.
In conjunction with the Biden administration’s revival of Obama’s radical Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, and additional congressional efforts to kill off single-family zoning (possibly in the big infrastructure bill, if we ever find out what’s in it), a California referendum could rocket this issue to national prominence. And if McAuliffe goes down after an ad campaign focused on the zoning issue, it will serve as a roadmap for Republicans in other states. . . .
Democrats have always worried that their plans to do away with single-family zoning will be politically unpopular, even with many Democrats. They haven’t yet had to face the political consequences of their own policies, however. With local control over zoning now injected into the Virginia governor’s race, and a California referendum very likely on the way, that may be about to change.
Few issues matter more to voters than the character of their neighborhoods and the character of their schools. The second issue — schools — has become a high-profile one. Maybe now the first one — neighborhoods — will come into prominence.
The ad alleges that McAuliffe has not been asked the tough questions by the members of a media-class that wishes to see him elected
By Just The New•
With election day for the Virginia governorship just weeks away, the neck-in-neck race between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and former Carlyle co-CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) is heating up. In the final days of the race, Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative policy advocacy group in Virginia, has made a major TV ad-buy in the DC-Northern Virginia market with a long-form ad that emphasizes McAuliffe’s plans to undermine suburban family neighborhoods by building high density housing.
According to Frontiers’ ad, McAuliffe, as governor, would “override local zoning” ordinances in an effort to quickly build up “high-density, low-income housing” in single-family suburban communities. He would hand over significant neighborhood building and construction power to the federal government that would allow the bureaucratic destruction of the American suburbs to move forward.
Several prominent GOP politicians, including former HUD secretary Dr. Ben Carson, have spent the last couple years warning the public about this type of zoning practice and the negative impact it stands to have on American suburbs.
“Terry McAuliffe’s threat to the suburbs is no exaggeration,” says the ad, which runs at 120-seconds. It also points out that a majority of black and hispanic families are against disrupting the housing and traffic flow of American suburbs. For many decades families like theirs were kept out of single-family communities, and now they are hoping to thrive the way other families have in suburban areas, not have the opportunity taken from them by politically motivated zoning laws.
The president of the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation, George Landrith, says this is not an attack ad. Rather, he calls the spot a “heavily informative narrative ad that tells the story of Terry McAuliffe’s extremist views and plans.”
In addition to the claim that McAuliffe will pass policy that will endanger the lifestyles of hardworking suburban Virginian families, the group hits the former governor for allying himself with those who support “teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children” – a reference to Critical Race Theory – defunding the police, and “continuing the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia.”
Current polling shows that Youngkin and McAuliffe are virtually tied, meaning the next few weeks will be exceptionally important for both campaigns. While Youngkin has run a steady effort, amassing growing support through his primary bid and into the general election, McAuliffe’s campaign has struggled the past few weeks, especially following a gaffe at a gubernatorial debate in late September during which the Democrat said “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The role parents play in the education of their children has been an unusually significant issue during the Virginia race as parents across the state oppose and protest the decisions of their local school boards ranging from all-day masking mandates for their children, to the inclusion of Critical Race Theory in the curricula of young students.