Robert Tracinski at The Bulwark:
In Virginia, we’re in the home stretch of a campaign for governor that may set the tone for national politics for the next three years. If so, it’s going to be a long three years.
On the Republican side is Glenn Youngkin, a businessman who, if left to his own devices, would probably be a conventional, old-fashioned, moderate Republican perfectly tailored for voters in Northern Virginia. But these days, the price of admission to Republican politics is fealty to the myth that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election and it was stolen from him. Youngkin never quite went all the way on election trutherism, but he sure did play footsie with it.
Yet his Democratic opponent, former governor Terry McAuliffe—a Virginia governor can serve two terms, but not consecutively—has engaged in some election trutherism of his own, more recently on behalf of Stacey Abrams and more famously on behalf of Al Gore.
It’s one of those matchups that have you wondering whether either party is capable of nominating a candidate who isn’t compromised by his base. This elemental fact set the pattern for the rest of the campaign, including an unexpected fight over who controls the public schools.
If McAuliffe loses in a state that voted by a wide margin for Joe Biden last year, it will be because of a gaffe which fits the usual puckish definition: a politician accidentally telling the truth. In this case, the truth was that McAuliffe does not believe parents should have much say about what is taught to their kids in public schools.
“I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said during the debate. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
There is a case to be made that individual parents shouldn’t be able to dictate the content of public school curriculum for everyone else. But McAuliffe conveyed a wider sense that public schools are not answerable to the public—and then the Democrats and the teachers’ unions doubled down on it.