The Republican Win in Virginia is Another Woke Legacy
The teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools was one of the main concerns of voters
A year ago, in the aftermath of the US Presidential election, I wrote an article entitled Why is the Minority Vote Shifting to the Right?, which noted a surprising trend in the voting numbers. Although Donald Trump had been continuously accused of racism, sexism and homophobia, he had significantly increased his vote among all racial minorities, women and LGBT voters. In fact, Biden only won the election at all because his vote increased among white men (the most regressive of all groups, if you believe the woke Left).
I had predicted this result, on the basis that, under the cover of noisy anti-racism, the Left was becoming increasingly racist. It was clear that many non-white people were tiring of being patronisingly regarded as ‘oppressed’. As I wrote then:
In short, “antiracism” has become a toxic brand, largely driven by white people, and increasingly alienating non-whites, who feel patronised by it. So for some time, I have predicted that, win or lose, Trump would increase his share of the black vote at this election. I have found myself hoping for a tightrope result: a Biden win (which would rebuke Trump) combined with a shift of the black vote to the right (which would rebuke the woke). And I make no bones about this: for me, the Trump right and the woke Left are two sides of the same, illiberal coin.
So last year, I was in a position to celebrate two outcomes: the exit of Trump, as well as the shift of minority voters away from the Democrats, who were becoming dominated, at the local level, by affluent white leftists with intolerant ideas about racial and sexual equality.
This week, in a surprise upset for the Democrats, the Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected as governor of Virginia. His margin of victory was wafer-thin, but overturned a previous 10 point majority for the Democrats. Among the key issues for voters was the (alleged) teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools. CRT has become a subject that everybody claims to understand - though it appears that most people on either side don’t know what it is. Republicans claimed that CRT is a racist ideology and being taught in schools; many Democrats countered this by claiming that CRT is simply about opposing racism, and in any case is not being taught in schools. Democrats further accused Republicans of using CRT as a racist dog-whistle.
The last claim is believable. Many/most Republicans do seem to believe (incorrectly) that CRT is simply another word for black history, and some of those voters may have been driven by racist intent. But this effect does not explain the swing to the Republicans: most white people with such attitudes would have always voted Republican anyway. Many Democrats defend CRT because they also believe (again, incorrectly) that it is simply about the honest teaching of history.
While the Left resorted to their favourite explanation for the Republican win - that the voters are racist - there were some signs that the Latino vote had shifted sharply towards the Republicans, though this represents a fairly small part of the Virginia electorate. This underscores the point I made in closing my article a year ago, warning that the loss of ethnic minority voters...
... provides a lesson to the Democratic Party. Racist identity politics may play well among middle-class whites, but it does not work among any other group. If the Democrats continue to play identity politics, they will increasingly repel minority voters. And in a country that will be majority-minority within a few decades, they cannot afford to do that.
Is racist ideology being taught in schools? While CRT began in the 1970s as a civil rights initiative to tackle systemic racism within certain social structures, it has moved far beyond those roots.
Today, CRT has evolved into an almost religious belief - championed by its high priests like Ibram X Kendi - that any disparity in outcome between racial groups is caused by systemic racism. And its solutions are certainly racist: it has spawned a political ideology that demands whites admit their ‘privilege’ and their role in ‘oppressing’ black people. It is a recipe for racial tension and division, and would be damaging if it were to be included in the school curriculum.
Is CRT being taught in Virginia schools? Democrats have angrily denied this, but the reality appears to be otherwise. Love or hate the Republicans, they seem to be telling the truth. A racist ideology, promoted by the far-left fringes of the Democratic Party, is making an appearance in the school curriculum. This makes life difficult for moderate Democrats trying to win elections.
Similar problems exist in the UK. Last year, my (then) seven year old son was given homework that included the inaccurate and inflammatory statement: ‘Police shoot a lot of black people’. While this is not CRT, it is certainly rooted in the identity politics that was spawned by CRT, and there is now apparently some unwritten obligation on the part of the authorities to present black seven year olds as the future victims of police violence. This racist gibberish is not the official policy of the Labour Party, but it is the Labour Left, and Labour councils, that promote this narrative of victimhood.
Democracy is a very blunt tool. We do not have the luxury of cherry-picking the best parts of each party’s manifesto. But it does give us the ability to slap down dangerous ideas, even if it means holding our noses and voting for parties that we fundamentally disagree with. This may be what won the election for the Republicans in Virginia. Similarly, many natural Labour voters steered clear of the Labour Party when it was in the hands of the reactionary Corbynite cult. As a lifelong progressive, I feel no joy when I see a Republican victory - but the price is worth paying if it means holding back the advance of a racist cult.
In any case, it is clear that (despite Democrat mythology), the vast majority of Republicans have long since moved beyond their racist past. The newly-elected Republican Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Winsome Sears, is a black woman. It seems beyond ludicrous that large numbers of white supremacists - least of all, Latino white supremacists - would elect a black woman to senior office - and yet, many on the Left are still obsessively banging this drum. Democrats will keep losing elections - and losing minority voters - until its Left can give up its race(ist) obsession and start worrying about policies again.