×
↓ Freedom Centers

Tag Archives: Elections


Joe Biden Doesn’t Know What You’re Talking About

No U-Turns for President Biden ahead of midterms

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

President Biden Holds A Press Conference At The White House
Getty Images

President Biden begins his second year in office with a 42 percent average job approval rating. Republicans hold a 1 point lead over Democrats in the congressional generic ballot (and the generic ballot question often underestimates GOP support). The Gallup organization reports that in the final quarter of 2021 Republicans took a 5 point lead in party identification for the first time since 1995. As of this writing, 28 House Democrats have announced their retirements, with more expected to follow. Biden’s agenda is stalled in Congress, the Supreme Court blocked his employer vaccine mandate, the coronavirus pandemic continues, and inflation is higher than at any point in the last 39 years. The country—not to mention the president—could use a reset.

We’re not getting one. Instead, on January 19, we got Biden’s combative, discursive, and delusional mess of a 1 hour and 51-minute press conference. Among the reasons the occasion was notable—and notorious—was that it forced the White House to clarify later Biden’s comments on not one but two issues: Biden’s ambiguity over America’s response if Russia launches a “minor incursion” into Ukraine, and Biden’s repeated assertion that the Senate’s failure to pass his election takeover bills throws the legitimacy of the midterm elections into doubt. To watch Biden at the lectern was to experience shock and dismay interspersed with moments of alarm and dark humor. No wonder he hides from the media. It was the worst presidential press conference since Donald Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in 2018.

Biden’s message to the 64 percent of the public that says the country is headed in the wrong direction: Everything is fine. Biden’s message to the 42 percent of the public that says economic conditions are poor: You must be joking. “We created six million new jobs—more jobs in one year than at any time before,” Biden said. “Unemployment dropped—the unemployment dropped to 3.9 percent.” Yes, Biden conceded, there is “frustration and fatigue in this country.” But that is due to the pandemic. As for inflation, Biden went on, it will subside when the Federal Reserve tightens the money supply (true), when Congress passes “my Build Back Better plan” (false), and when his anti-monopoly executive orders take effect (also false). “I didn’t overpromise,” Biden said. “But I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.”

In one sense that’s true—Biden has turned out to be much worse than anybody expected. Just 28 percent of Americans say they have “a great deal of confidence” in his management of the White House. Forty-nine percent say he is doing more to divide than to unite the country. Less than a third want him to run for reelection. Biden shows no sign of taking these atrocious numbers seriously. “I don’t believe the polls,” he said Wednesday. It shows.

I had flashbacks during Biden’s presser to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress in September 2011. Like Obama, Biden didn’t back down from his agenda. Like Obama, Biden challenged Republican obstructionism and tried to define the choice for the electorate between Democratic egalitarianism and Republican extremism. In retrospect, Obama’s economic address was the launch of his reelection campaign. Even though his proposal never became law, he succeeded in casting his opponents in a negative light. It helped him define Mitt Romney the following year as an uncaring plutocrat and win a second term. The Obama-era retreads who fill the Biden administration—including Biden himself—must assume that a similar strategy will limit their losses in the midterms. They tell themselves that if they keep their heads down and soldier on, the left will remain happy, and the center will come back to the Democrats out of fear and dislike of Trump and the MAGA Squad. “What are Republicans for?” Biden said Wednesday. “What are they for? Name me one thing they are for.”

Stopping you, for starters. And, judging by the polls, that may be enough. There are many differences between Obama in 2011 and Biden in 2022, and they don’t work in the incumbent’s favor. For one thing, time is running short for Biden. He has less than 10 months before Election Day. For another, Obama had a Republican House of Representatives to triangulate against. All the voters know now is that Democrats are in full control of the federal government and making a mess of it. A third difference is the state of the world. Obama’s controversial first term looks like a placid oasis compared with the hellscape of today.

Then of course there are the stylistic divergences between Obama and his former vice president. Obama was a cultural figure as well as a president, a man of distinction and suavity whose oratorical presence and position atop his party was never questioned, even if plenty of people (including me) disagreed with just about everything he ever did or said. The same isn’t true of Biden. Obama is incapable of a press conference as rambling and disheveled and politically harmful as Biden’s. Even Bill Clinton, four years Biden’s junior, would have done better. And Clinton’s been out of office for 21 years.

Biden pledged to make some changes this year, however. Not to his White House team. Not to his vice president. According to Biden, they are all doing fine. Nor will he alter his policies. Maybe Build Back Better can pass in “chunks,” maybe Congress can reform the Electoral Count Act to prevent election subversion, but overall Biden is satisfied with himself. “Can you think of any other president that has done as much in one year?” Biden asked in one of his biggest whoppers of the afternoon. “Name one for me.”

Biden doesn’t want to make substantive changes. He wants a different schedule. “I’m going to get out of this place more often.” Never mind that he spent a quarter of his first year in Delaware. “I’m going to go out and talk to the public.” And “now that I have time,” he’s going to seek more advice from “experts outside,” including the “presidential historians” who convinced him that he is FDR and LBJ reborn and set him on the road to a 40 percent approval rating. Finally, Biden said, “We’re going to be out there making sure that we’re helping all those candidates.” No doubt. I, for one, can think of many candidates who Biden is helping. They are all Republicans.


What I’ve Got in Common with Stacey Abrams

By Rick PerryReal Clear Politics

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Stacey Abrams and I have a lot in common. We’re both proud Southerners. We both hail from the only two states with schools that beat the Crimson Tide this season. We both think Joe Biden made the wrong VP pick. We both believe we won gubernatorial elections. Of course, only one of us is right on the last point — but as an Aggie, I respect the power of a healthy self-esteem.

We now have one more thing in common: We both skipped the Biden-Harris phony election-reform show in Atlanta. Not that I was invited: What would a three-term major-state governor who presided over historic expansion of voting (and minority-group participation in voting) know about elections, anyway? But Stacey Abrams was invited. And the fact that she didn’t come tells you just how dead-on-arrival the White House’s elections agenda actually is.

The motivation for Abrams’s no-show is twofold. Not more than two years ago, she was openly campaigning to become Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, transparently attempting to leverage liberal media into forcing him to pick her. It didn’t work, and now she has an opportunity to return the snub. She’s drawing with her an array of Georgia-based left-wing advocacy groups, who have declared that they too will refuse to attend the president and vice president’s Atlanta event — on the grounds that the White House has been too slow, and too tentative, in advancing their agenda.

The second element to the absenteeism is the fact that the president, the vice president, and their elections agenda are profoundly unpopular in Georgia. Stacey Abrams is campaigning for governor there (again), and wants to win (she would say again to that too), and there’s no compelling reason for her to tie herself to the negative-ratings deadweights that helm her national party. 

Even without the officeholder unpopularity, the fact is that Georgians — like most Americans — are reasonably happy with their elections, and also reasonably happy with the post-2020 legislation that has addressed many of the process flaws exposed in that cycle. The fact that the Democrats and the progressives have talked themselves into an elections agenda that doubles down on those flaws, and introduces more uncertainty into the elections system, only highlights their disconnect from the lived reality of ordinary Americans. 

(Another sign of that disconnect: trying to hold a political rally in Georgia on the very morning after the Dawgs broke a forty-one year national-championship drought. It’s political malpractice on a level so appalling, it could only be exceeded by sending Paul Finebaum to Guantanamo. Now that I write that, I fear the vice president will convene a task force to make it happen.) 

Of course, they’re also disconnected from one another. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were also in Atlanta, Georgia to give the progressive base exactly what it has been demanding for years. The progressive base, instead of pocketing the small victory, is sabotaging the moment by staying away. We already knew this was a movement that doesn’t have what it takes to govern — the president’s disastrous 2021 was proof enough of that — and now we have evidence that it also doesn’t have what it takes to win.

That’s good news for Americans, in Georgia and beyond. Even though the president and vice president are in Atlanta advocating for a truly terrible agenda, that agenda isn’t going to happen. They can’t lead their own movement. But even if they could, Americans want nothing to do with it. When you’ve constructed a political fantasy too far out even for Stacey Abrams, you know it’s time to pack it in.


Jay Inslee Tries to Criminalize Political Speech

By Dan McLaughlinNational Review

Washington governor Jay Inslee speaks on the second night of the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Mich., July 31, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Washington governor Jay Inslee seems unclear on the whole “no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech” concept:

What does he have in mind? Here’s what Inslee referenced.

The governor also assailed three Republican state lawmakers — Brad Klippert, Vicki Kraft and Robert Sutherland — who attended at taxpayer expense an election conspiracy theory conference in South Dakota last summer. The Seattle Times first reported the details of that trip earlier this week. “The defeated president and his allies, including some legislators in Washington state, are perpetuating the belief that this election was stolen from them,” Inslee said. “What do you think is going to happen if you perpetuate that belief? Of course violence can be happening as a result of that.”…The governor likened the rhetoric about elections being stolen to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.” “The defeated president as recently as an hour ago is yelling fire in the crowded theater of democracy,” Inslee said, referring to statements Trump issued Thursday. Those statements included: “Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!”

This is a straightforward effort to criminalize speech about politics. A broad spectrum of stolen-election and rigged-election theories have been widely circulated in the United States since at least the 1824 election, if not 1800. Most of them are lies, hokum, and hyperbole, but our system of political speech has always allowed an open contest in the marketplace of ideas to deal with that. As Inslee’s own state’s Supreme Court wrote in that 2007 case striking down a ban on candidates lying about each other, “The notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment.”

Moreover, this is specifically the kind of speech that it is common to hear from Democrats. Kamala Harris just hired a new communications director, Jamal Simmons, who tweeted less than a year ago — not for the first time — that he believed “W stole the 2000 elex.” And Simmons is, if anything, more temperate on the subject than many leading Democrats. Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, has long pushed a similar line, and in 2014, when Vox tweeted a poll saying that 68% of Americans think U.S. elections are rigged, Klain responded, “That’s because they are.”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the likes of Jay Inslee to call for any of these people to be prosecuted. Presumably, what Inslee means when he limits this to lies “likely to incite or cause lawlessness” is that he will appeal to sympathetic courts to say that it’s only likely to incite that when his political opponents do it. But a rule-of-law system is supposed to mean one rule for everyone.

Note that the examples Inslee cites — legislators attending a conference, Donald Trump issuing a press release — are a far cry from the constitutional requirement of inciting imminent criminal action, a standard that would be imposing to apply even to Trump’s January 6 speech. As David Harsanyi has observed about the “fire in a crowded theater” canard:

This is probably the weakest – and the most infuriatingly overused — analogy used in efforts to restrict rights. The line, taken from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ decision in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by thousands of censorship apologists since, was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in American history. The Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw anti-war activists into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. It’s difficult to think of a more legitimate exercise of political expression than debating war and peace. In any event, Schenck was basically overturned by the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, which found that the First Amendment protects speech unless it is likely to incite “imminent lawless action,” which yelling “fire in a theater” does not.

It may be that Inslee was just engaging in a one-day January 6 message, but his press release sounds as if he actually intends to push this into law. That should deeply alarm friends of the classical liberal values of free speech and democracy. It would be one thing if we read a statement like this from some inexperienced young progressive firebrand. But Jay Inslee — who followed this up with an executive order permitting racial discrimination by the state government — is about as much of an experienced, establishment figure as exists in the Democratic Party. He’s been in public office almost continuously since 1989. He spent a decade and a half in Congress. He’s the longest-serving sitting governor in the United States. He ran for president in 2020. That he is pushing for laws to throw political opponents in jail over political speech should tell us how deep the rot is on free political speech among the Democrats.


The Placeholder President

When Trump is the issue, Biden wins. And Biden's troubles begin.

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

President Joe Biden speaks about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot / Getty Images

The most impassioned speech of Joe Biden’s presidency was about events that took place before it began. I’m talking about the president’s remarks on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. The energy, force, and direction of Biden’s delivery have been missing from practically every address he’s made since his inauguration. The Biden who spoke from Statuary Hall on Thursday was not his usual self—listless, reactive, defensive, and confused. This Biden was angry and purposeful and on the attack.

True, it was a partisan speech. How could it not have been? The driving force behind the events of January 6 was a Republican president who remains the most important figure in his party. Many Republicans will accuse Biden of divisiveness. They will say he ignored the faults of his own side. Well, sorry, but what did you expect? Biden was lively and pointed because public opinion is with him. A majority says the 2020 election was legitimate. A plurality blames Trump for the mob assault on the Capitol. Fifty-nine percent of adults don’t want Trump to run for president in 2024. When Trump is the issue, Biden wins.

And Biden’s troubles start. Trump for now is the least of his worries. Trump is on the sidelines. He’s out of office. He’s banned from social media. He doesn’t figure in the everyday lives of most Americans. He won’t be on the ballot this November. A White House midterm strategy based on portraying GOP candidates as Q-Anon shamans ready to storm the Capitol won’t work. The hundreds of state and local campaigns will be too diverse. The candidates will be too distinct. And public anger over the economy, the pandemic, the schools, the border, and the cities will matter most of all.

Biden’s January 6 speech was a reminder that he’s a placeholder president. He’s in office because independent voters in the suburbs rejected Donald Trump’s personality and Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus. No one expected—or wanted—Biden to be a world-historical statesman. Biden himself said he’s a “transitional” figure with a singular goal: Keep Trump away from the White House. He accomplished that task, which is why he began his presidency with healthy approval ratings. The electorate didn’t sour on him until he took on additional employment: live-action role-playing FDR and LBJ, dismantling immigration protocols on the southern border, deferring to public health experts and regulatory bodies, and midwifing the Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan. Now Biden is at 43-percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls.

Biden’s dilemma is that “I’m not Trump” is a winning message only when Trump is on the ballot, holds office, or is tied to a major event such as January 6. The message doesn’t work on the other 364 days of the year. If Biden had grasped why he became president, he would have pursued a modest agenda directed at the independents who elected him. He would have sounded and acted more like Governor Jared Polis than like Senator Elizabeth Warren. Instead, Biden has catered to the left at the expense of the center. He’s at odds with the median voter as he fails to control the coronavirus, inflation, the border, and events overseas. His domestic agenda is stalled. And the Democratic congressional majority is at risk.

But not all is lost. A GOP Congress in 2023 may provide Biden with a rationale to shake up his staff, work with Senator Mitch McConnell, and distinguish himself from the cultural left. And the 2024 cycle may not be as good for Republicans as the 2022 cycle is shaping up to be. The last two Democratic presidents won reelection during periods of divided government. The mix of issues may be different. And Biden will be able to play his “I’m not Trump” card if the former president enters the presidential race and wins the GOP nomination.

Listening to Biden speak Thursday, I kept thinking of his recent interview with David Muir of ABC News. When asked if he’ll run for reelection, Biden gave the only answer possible: Yes. But he added an escape hatch when he said that his health would be the deciding factor. Then Muir asked Biden if Trump’s decision would shape his 2024 calculus. And the president became animated. He sounded as engaged as he was on January 6. “You’re trying to tempt me now,” he said. “Sure. Why would I not run against Donald Trump for the nominee? That’ll increase the prospect of running.”

Biden has seen the Democratic bench. He works with Vice President Kamala Harris. He understands that despite everything he remains the Democrats’ best chance of preventing a second Trump term. Joe Biden is an unpopular, unloved, and ineffective president. But he’s beaten Donald Trump once and isn’t wrong to think he might do it again. He won’t transform America. He might keep his job for a while longer if voters don’t like their options. That’s what a placeholder does.


Why more young black Americans are calling themselves ‘conservative’

By Dennis Richmond, Jr.The New York Post

Felecia Killings (from left), Charrise Lane and Claude J. Wheeler, Jr., are pushing back on the notion that all young black Americans are “progressive.” NY Post photo composite

For the past two years, the mainstream media has given tons of coverage to the Black Lives Matter movement — and rightly so. More than 80 percent of black Americans, including me, support the movement, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody. But the media is missing many nuances among African-Americans. For one, we don’t all vote alike.

Yes, almost 90 percent of black voters went to bat for the Biden-Harris administration last year. But that leaves 10 percent of black voters who didn’t. Meanwhile, 25 percent of black Democrats actually consider themselves “conservative” and 43 percent say they are “moderate.” White Democrats with a college or postgraduate degree are most likely to call themselves “liberal.”

Some issues that matter to the black community just aren’t getting noticed. Two in three black Americans said they don’t feel represented in media, according to a 2020 study.

Charrise Lane, 22, of Orlando, Florida, is one person who has no interest in voting Democrat. She calls herself a “Conscious Black Conservative” and told me: “I’m a conservative because the Democratic Party has always been anti-black and racist towards black Americans.”

Lane is a YouTuber, political commentator and brand ambassador for Revolution of One, an organization that helps “people create personal freedom,⁣” according to its Twitter profile.

During one of her YouTube posts, Lane explained that her conservatism is shaped by “being surrounded around God and family and placing your values around that … [but] being conservative doesn’t mean you’re Christian… There are a lot of black Americans who agree with conservative values.” She said she wants leaders who are conscious of issues that plague the black community and “listen to the community instead of calling people in the community ‘victims’ and ‘slaves’… It is also about having empathy… and then coming up with policies and ways that will combat these issues.”

Last year, Kodak Black was pardoned by Trump. Last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”
Last year, Kodak Black was pardoned by Trump. Last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”

Former President Donald J. Trump increased his share of black voters by four percentage points in 2020, partly because he focused on issues that matter to the community — jobs, safety, opportunities, education and healthcare. He also had the backing of black musicians including Kanye West, 50 Cent and Kodak Black, who was pardoned by Trump last year. Just last month, Kodak tweeted, “Bring Trump Back.”

Now, as 45 percent of voters say they strongly disapprove of how President Biden is handling the economy, Felecia Killings, the CEO of the Conscious Conservative Movement, sees an opportunity for black conservatives to make their case. She believes they can mount a strong challenge against Stacey Abrams, who recently announced she is running again for governor of Georgia against Republican incumbent Brian Kemp. Killings regularly tweets her support for conservatism to her more than 22,000 followers on Twitter.

“For decades, we’ve watched progressive policies and government overreach destroy our communities and our rising wealth,” said 38-year-old Killings, who was born in California and is now based in Atlanta, Ga. “Today, these same politicians want to abuse our economic opportunities by implementing heavier regulations and taxations. Conservatism promises to keep more economics right in our hands. This is the message we must preach.

“In areas like Atlanta, which is controlled by Democrats, we’re witnessing a lot of turmoil. We only need to read history to understand Democratic/progressive politics do not work. Having a Democrat governor who is to the left will usher in what citizens experience in states like California. As great an activist Stacey is, her politics will stifle growing wealth.”

Kanye West was public in his show of support for the former president. Many black conservatives credit Trump with focusing on issues that matter to the black community.
Kanye West was public in his show of support for the former president. Many black conservatives credit Trump with focusing on issues that matter to the black community.

In a blog post earlier this year, Bradford Traywick, a black conservative engagement strategist based in Washington, D.C., wrote: “We believe in hard work and entrepreneurship, we have a general distrust of government (albeit for important historical reasons), we have historically supported the right (and even the responsibility) to educate our own children how we see fit, and we respect our right to bear arms to defend our families and communities. African Americans have generally wanted what we believe America promises: a fair shake at achieving the American Dream.”

Two of the most significant trends I noticed among conscious black conservatives are their belief in God and their desire to protect their Second Amendment rights. Research shows that 24 percent of African Americans own guns (compared to 36 percent of whites), and gun owners are almost three times more likely to be Republican than Democrat. Meanwhile, almost 50 percent of new gun buyers are women.

Lane, who said she is currently saving money to purchase her own firearm, wants to be one of them.

“I support guns,” Lane told me. “You never know what might happen when you step out the door or who will try to put their hands on you. It is imperative to put your safety into your own hands.”

After Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she is running again for governor of Georgia, "conscious conservative" Felecia Killings said "her politics will stifle growing wealth.”
After Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she is running again for governor of Georgia, “conscious conservative” Felecia Killings said “her politics will stifle growing wealth.”

Black conservatives said it’s tough being a minority within a minority, especially when members of your own community judge you harshly for your views. “I’ve been called a house slave and … told that I was in the sunken place,” said Claude J. Wheeler, Jr., 26, of Sumter, SC, who is the vice president of his chapter of the South Carolina Federation of Republican Men.

But many also say their faith gives them the courage to speak up.

“My responsibility as a Christian is to love people and to spread the truth,” said Lane, who added that she relies on meditation and prayer to keep her grounded while making her case for conservatism.

“I need my sanity to stay in the fight because I know people need to hear the truth.”


GOP Secures Control of Virginia House

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

By Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60743669

Virginia Republicans anxious to see the party’s takeover of the state House of Delegates in the November election affirmed got what they wanted Friday after election officials in the southeastern part of the commonwealth determined Republican Karen Greenhalgh had won the crucial 51st seat. 

Greenleigh led Delegate Alex Askew by 127 votes on Nov. 2 but, as the difference between the two was less than 0.5 percent, the incumbent Democrat availed himself of the option of having the votes recounted at public expense. 

He still lost, election officials determined, but by just 115 votes out of more than 28,000 cast, The Washington Post reported.

“House Republicans are excited to begin working for the people of Virginia,” Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who has been elected by the GOP caucus to serve as Speaker of the House once the General Assembly session gets underway on Jan. 12, said in a statement. “Now that the majority is official, we can move forward with a timely transition as to be prepared to work on day one.”

Gilbert is expected to work closely with GOP Gov-elect Glenn Youngkin to move the incoming chief executive’s priorities including a repeal of the sales taxes on groceries through the legislature despite the Democrats having a one-vote majority in the Virginia Senate. 

“While this is not the outcome we hoped for, I continue to be filled with optimism for the future of our Commonwealth and of the city of Virginia Beach,” Askew said in a release issued shortly after election officials announced the results. A recount in a second race occurs next week in Hampton, Va., where Republican A.C. Cordoza is ahead of incumbent Democratic Del. Martha M. Mugler by 94 votes out of 27,836 votes cast. If Cordoza is declared the winner, the Republicans will control the House of Delegates, 52-48.

By winning all three statewide constitutional offices in Virginia on Nov. 2 as well as retaking control of the House of Delegates, Virginia Republicans positioned themselves at the forefront of a “Red Wave” that some election observers say foreshadows a rout of Democrats running just about anywhere in America in 2002, leaving the GOP in a position to retake the White House in November 2024.


The Virginia Model

Glenn Youngkin's victory and the Republican future

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Glenn Youngkin
Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R.) / Getty Images

Consensus forms quickly. Within hours of winning the Virginia governor’s race, Glenn Youngkin was identified as a model for GOP candidates. The argument ran as follows: The former businessman and political newbie figured out how to hold Donald Trump’s hand—as one Republican senator put it, under the table and in the dark—and still win big in a blue state. He ran on kitchen-table issues: rising prices, schools, crime. He tailored his message to his locality and avoided national debates. None of his television advertisements featured President Biden and none mentioned illegal immigration. He defined himself as a basketball-playing, dog-loving dad from the suburbs before his opponent was able to portray him as Trump in fleece. He built coalitions with parents, veterans, and minority groups. Republicans who follow his path might enjoy similar success in 2022 and beyond.

In truth, Youngkin might not be as replicable as he appears. The reason is candidate quality. For a political rookie, Youngkin has mad skills. He has a preternatural ability to stay on message. He is positive and optimistic without coming across as treacly or sentimental. I have yet to see him frown. He has what Reagan adviser John Sears called “negative ability”—the power to deflect, repel, and ignore personal attacks. Nothing seems to get under his skin. Politicians who have this quality drive the opposition nuts. You could sense the Democrats’ frustration when Biden told a Virginia audience that extremism can come “in a smile and a fleece vest.” Maybe that’s right, but the average Virginian doesn’t look at Glenn Youngkin and see a neo-Nazi or a Proud Boy. The average Virginian sees an approachable and energetic father of four with commonsensical plans to improve the quality of life in his home state. That’s the type of profile any candidate, Republican or Democrat, ought to aim for. But it’s easier said than done.

Both his opponent and the national environment helped Youngkin. Terry McAuliffe learned how difficult it is to win nonconsecutive terms—something that may be of interest to the ruler of Mar-a-Lago. And McAuliffe clearly believed that demographics are destiny and that Virginia was irrevocably blue. He ran on airy evocations of a pleasant past and fiery denunciations of Youngkin as a Trump-like threat to institutional stability and social peace. McAuliffe’s inability to find a galvanizing issue led him to run an idea-free campaign based on mobilizing Democratic interest groups. His accusations of racism and nuttery turned out many Democrats to the polls. Just not enough to win.

The general deterioration of Biden’s presidency hurt McAuliffe. The inflation, incompetence, and cultural radicalism dragging down Biden’s job approval rating are taking other Democrats with him. The red shift in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere on election night hints at bad things to come for the incumbent party. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy speculates that another 2010, when the GOP picked up 63 House seats, may be in the making. For that to happen, McCarthy has to find plenty of candidates who aspire to be Glenn Youngkin, match them against clueless incumbents, and pray that Biden’s approval rating next November is the same as or lower than it is today. This is a possible scenario, and perhaps even the most likely one. But this is also the Republican Party we are talking about. Things can always end in disaster.

It’s less as a candidate than as a governor that Youngkin can be a model for the Republican Party. He’s been given the opportunity to govern, and to govern well. His coattails brought in a Republican lieutenant governor, a Republican state attorney general, and a Republican House of Delegates. The Democrats control the state senate by two seats—but this narrow margin is pliable and open to compromise. Youngkin is in a unique position. He’s the first high-profile Republican chief executive elected in the Biden era. He has the chance to demonstrate that Republicans can address parental revolt, public safety, and economic insecurity in responsible and effective ways. He has the chance to define that agenda in the coming year, and even to broaden it, so that Republicans in 2022 have an example to point to and a lodestar to follow.

This agenda starts with education. Parents became the centerpiece of Youngkin’s campaign, the lynchpin of his victory, after McAuliffe’s career-ending gaffe of September 28, when the former governor said that parents shouldn’t be telling teachers what to teach. In a post-election interview with Hugh Hewitt, Youngkin mentioned charter schools, high curricular standards, and more spending on teachers and on special education. On the trail he pledged to ban “Critical Race Theory,” or “CRT,” from public school instruction—though he has to find a way to do so without revising or omitting the history of slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement. My American Enterprise Institute colleagues Brad Wilcox and Max Eden suggest that Youngkin promote “academic transparency” by requiring parental review and opt-in for hot-button curricula, prioritize educational savings accounts, and align school-board elections with the national political cycle.

Youngkin also has said that he will place public safety officers in schools. This initiative should become the basis for a more wide-ranging effort to bolster state and local police forces, with an eye toward community policing and the reassuring presence of cops on the beat. Youngkin’s “game plan” includes firing the state parole board to discourage early release of violent offenders. He wants to reform the state mental health system. He might also want to combat drug trafficking and opioid abuse—with the understanding that it is better to do several things well than many things poorly.

As Henry Olsen observed in October, Youngkin’s economic agenda fits well with the emerging Republican coalition of non-college-educated voters. Rather than cut marginal tax rates, Youngkin would double the state standard deduction, eliminate the grocery tax, and suspend the gas tax, easing the burden on lower- and middle-income taxpayers suffering from a rising cost of living. He says he’d like to encourage innovation and job creation throughout the state. One way might be to take the lead in “strategic decoupling” from China and incentivize manufacturers of critically important goods to reshore facilities in the commonwealth. Over a decade ago, I accompanied then-senator George Allen (R.) on a tour of a Virginia-based semiconductor plant. Let’s make room for more of them.

The danger for the governor-elect is that he will entangle himself in national debates over vaccine and mask mandates. I expect the next state attorney general to join the legal challenges to President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private-sector employers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the incoming state government attempts to end public school masking requirements. In general, however, Youngkin ought to be wary of intruding on local control and private-sector decision-making, even if it might win him fans among certain parts of the right. It ought to be remembered that Youngkin’s populism was actually popular and commonsensical—unlike some of the anti-elitism and suspicion of expert opinion that one encounters in politics these days.

It would be a missed opportunity if the governor-elect frittered away his resounding victory on cultural squabbles that generate headlines and score likes but do not improve life for Virginians in the real, not virtual, world. Still, I have a feeling—maybe it’s just a hope—that Youngkin will be a serious governor in demanding times who shows his fellow Republicans not just how to win, but how to govern. All with a smile and a fleece.


The Two Countercultures

Who will speak for ordinary Americans?

By Matthew ContinettieThe Washington Free Beacon

Kenosha riots Jan 6 riots
Getty Images

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 censorshipreeducation, 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.


Democrats Use Fake News Sites Ploy in Attempt to Win Virginia Election

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

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. 


Schooling Terry McAuliffe

The Democrat is running against Trump while Virginia voters worry about the education of their kids.

By David CatronThe American Spectator

Obama campaigning for Terry McAuliffe on Oct. 23 (Bloomberg/YouTube screenshot)

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.


The Politics of Parental Revolt

And the need for a conservative education agenda

By Matthew ContinettiThe Washington Free Beacon

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin / Getty Images

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.


Court Tosses Democrats’ Illinois Gerrymander

By Peter RoffAmerican Action News

Carol M. Highsmith via Wikimedia Commons

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.


ZONING EMERGES AS A POLITICAL ISSUE FOR CONSERVATIVES

By Paul MirengoffPowerline

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. 

Watch: https://youtu.be/Z3mbjKRgKMw 

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. 


Virginia policy group hits McAuliffe on his plan to urbanize the suburbs, destroy single-family life

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 Sophie MannJust 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.

Watch: https://youtu.be/Z3mbjKRgKMw 

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.


Zoning Emerging as a Political Issue

By Stanley KurtzNational Review

(AlenaMozhjer/Getty Images)

The first indication of zoning’s possible emergence as a top-tier political issue is a hard-hitting new ad by the conservative Frontiers of Freedom Foundation. The ad highlights Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s support for President Biden’s plans to undercut single-family zoning. The ad informs voters that attacks on local control of zoning can come from states as well. Watch: https://youtu.be/Z3mbjKRgKMw 

Although it has not been widely reported, after a series of bitter legislative battles, the California legislature recently abolished single-family zoning — over considerable opposition from Democrats as well as Republicans, including many minorities. The anti-McAuliffe attack ad pointedly reminds Virginia voters of the news from California.

California, in turn, is the source of the second major political development. Although the story of SB 9, California’s statewide ban on single-family zoning, has had only limited national play to date, there is a move afoot to put a measure on the 2022 California ballot that would effectively nullify SB 9 by restoring local control over zoning. Although signature collection has not yet begun, it is relatively easy to secure a statewide referendum in California, especially on a high-profile issue like this.

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.

For years, the zoning as a national political issue has been more a matter of theory than practice. I wrote about Obama’s plans to do away with single-family zoning well before AFFH had even been issued. At the time, the left denied that any such plan was in the works. Then Obama put AFFH in place, but so close to the end of his second term that he had to depend on a prospective President Hillary Clinton to enforce it. Instead, President Trump suspended AFFH and eventually killed it. With Biden in the process of reviving AFFH, and the infrastructure bill in limbo, active enforcement of federal laws designed to kill off single-family zoning is not quite yet a reality.

Yet the emergence of state-level single-family zoning bans, in conjunction with major federal efforts along the same lines, may be about to kick this issue into high gear. 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.


WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com