Wednesday, November 03, 2021

An Important Lesson About the American Electorate

Virginia Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin
It appears the ‘Silent Majority’ is a alive and well in the United States.  It is fairly obvious that the country is divided between liberal and conservative voters. Although there are many people (like myself) that swing both ways depending on the issue. I suppose we can be identified as independent voters.

In my view, the ‘Silent Majority’ consists of voters from across the political spectrum. So that even if they identify as conservative or liberal, their values may actually tilt Conservative on many issues. Kind of like Independents. This was reflected in the last Presidential election as well as the one before that… and most recently in yesterday’s gubernatorial election in 2 states; Virginia and New Jersey. (it also once again demonstrates just how unreliable pre-election poll are.) From NBC News:

Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia's high-profile Tuesday election for governor, NBC News projected, flipping control of a state that President Joe Biden won handily just a year ago.

Potentially even more concerning for Democrats, the race in New Jersey remained too close to call, even though Gov. Phil Murphy had been expected to cruise to re-election. “We’re sorry tonight couldn’t yet be the celebration we wanted it to be," Murphy told supporters.

The fact that the President’s popularity is at an all time low did not help Democrats in those 2 states. In my view, whatever support President Biden ever enjoyed was really a mirage. The truth is that Biden’s victory in the last election was not due to a pro Biden vote. It was due to an anti Trump vote. 

It is also true that almost half the country voted for Trump anyway despite all of his many serious negatives. My guess is that a lot of people that voted for Biden did so even if they might have agreed with many of Trump’s policies. But could not get themselves to vote again for a man who had as many serious flaws as he did, and embarrassed the country so much.

It was the politics of the left that defeated Democrat incumbent Terry McAuliffe and has thus far prevented incumbent Phil Murphy from getting the projected easy victory he was supposed to have gotten.

Education is perhaps the key issue that drove this election. Parents want to have a say in what their children are taught in the public schools. The current discussion about the impact of racism in American history is what swayed many parents to vote for the candidates that disagreed with those who believe American history should be taught only through the lens of racism. Better known as Critical Race Theory.

Although to the best of my knowledge Critical Race Theory is NOT currently part of any school curriculum in either state, the fear by many parents is that it might become the standard if things keep moving in the direction they seem to be. 

The media is filled with interviews of respected leftist elites who have been trashing America’s founding as racist – built on the backs of black slaves. That American history must be taught only through the lens of racism.  Media personalities seem to always nod in agreement with them. Thus painting a picture of where this country is headed.

The ‘Silent Majority’ will not have any of that. Which is why McAuliffe lost Virginia and Murphy might lose New Jersey. Democrats apparently believe that parents should have no say about what public schools should be teaching their children. Obviously parents were very upset by this view. Which Democrat incumbent McAuliffe articulated during his campaign. 

Republican challenger Youngkin jumped all over him for that. Combined with Biden’s unpopularity, he won the election handily. And although he distanced himself from Trump during the campaign, it is no secret that he was a Trump supporter who actually voted for Trump in the last election. This apparently did not hurt him.

In my view this makes the ‘Silent Majority’ alive and well - and a force to reckon with. They are NOT all the illiterate backwoods yokels or Fundamentalist Christians that Democrats love to characterize them as. They are simply mainstream Americans with traditional values that do not like the direction they have seen this country going in of late. 

A direction that seems to be led by a small group of congressional progressives whom the media loves to fawn over. Giving them outsized influence. But whose values do not even come close to those of mainstream America. Thank God.  This is why so many voters in the very blue state of New Jersey voted as they did. No one expected a close vote there. Democrat incumbent Murphy was supposed to be a  shoe-in.

A word about the importance of parental input.  One may try to use this issue to defend certain Chasidic schools from government interference.  Specifically objecting to any government requirement of a core secular studies curriculum. Comparing the rights of Virginia and New Jersey public school parents to the rights of Chasidic parents – to chose what their schools should teach..

But that would be a mistake. It is not an ‘all or nothing’ situation. As in most things in life (at least for me) the truth lies somewhere in the middle. The parental right have their children educated  as they choose is not absolute. There are important factors besides parental desire that need to be considered. (What those are is beyond the scope of this post.)

At the same time the school’s control to teach what they want should not be absolute either. There has to be a meeting of the minds whereby there is balance between what the school thinks is important and what the parents think is important. In the case of Chasidic schools – between what the state considers important and what the parents - or more correctly - the Chasidic schools think is important.

I think this is what voters in Virginia and New Jersey were saying. It is not that they want to erase any reference to racism in American history. It’s that they do not want that to be the sum and substance of their children’s education. It behooves our elected officials to realize this. 

I also believe it behooves our religious leaders and their lay advocacy to realize that it is not an all or nothing situation for their schools either. And that there too, balance is the key.