Virginia Gubernatorial Winner Encapsulates the Worst Elements of the Modern GOP

Another Tuesday night in November, another over-caffeinated, eye-grit Wednesday to contemplate What It All Means. Alas, last night meant the same thing it has for a horribly long time now, that which is not discussed but which moves the populace more than any ad or campaign speech: Almost everyone involved in the business of national politics, from the politicians to the “mainstream” pundits who follow them, are just awful.

It is awful. Awful in ways that would make the hairs on your neck stand up and do the Surfin’ Bird if we all weren’t already so beaten down and accustomed to political campaigns and coverage pontooning their way to election night on rivers of pure shit. Last night was no exception, and Virginia — home of an electorate that changes its mind more often than newborns change their diapers — was center stage.

On the one side was Terry McAuliffe, Democrat. Democratic Leadership CouncilThird Way neoliberal repeats. What point will this party run vibrant new candidates to these important offices? The Governor of Virginia is at the right hand God, if you listen carefully to the television screeching. Yet they ran a man who had held the job once, but was term-limited out because Virginia law prohibits officeholders serving consecutive terms.

Makes you wonder if that’s why the Virginia electorate votes like a flock of birds caught in a hail storm — over here, no over there, where, here! — but in any event, this was McAuliffe’s third run for the same office; he’s been at it since 2009. Before that, he was chair of the Democratic National Committee beginning in 2001, which means he hasn’t been a fresh face since your parents were still using a rotary phone. This is a problem the Democrats must break. Remember Paul Wellstone, who was killed in the 2002 plane crash? They replaced him with Walter Mondale on the ticket. I’m done.

Republican Glenn Youngkin, a corporate overlord, was on the other side. He left the private sector in 2020 and became a half-Trump culture warden from the sewers. Newsmax Fox News. Youngkin amassed a nifty fortune during his business years, which is why he was able to hold Donald Trump at arm’s length during the campaign while embracing his vilest tactics. It’s those business years I’d like to take a minute with, because while I did not pay molecular attention to every nuance of this race, I’m pretty sure nobody in the media bothered to give much of a damn about the fact that Youngkin worked for the Carlyle Group for 25 years, finally retiring2020, as co-CEO

Youngkin was in the middle during the giddy days of George W. Bush’s administration, which was staffed unless my math has gone wrong. from top to bottom by Carlyle acolytes even as George Bush Sr. served as a Carlyle “adviser.” The Iraq and Afghanistan war profiteering by Carlyle was extreme — remember United Defense? — and helped boost the company’s holdings by many zeroes to the left of the decimal. Bush Sr. retired from Carlyle in 1996. He returned to Kennebunkport with his blood money almost running out of his pocket. “A tidy gift,” I said at the time, “from son to father.”

Why is this important? Only history matters. Glenn Youngkin is the new governor of Virginia. This is an amalgamation of the worst elements within the modern Republican Party. A Trump fanatic with enough money to keep him from becoming another lickspittle. But who is still shameless enough for the office of governor brazenly racist Trump-style disinformation campaignwith the help right-wing media. Combine that with the quarter-century Youngkin spent cashing paychecks from one of the most notorious weapons-and-pipelines companies the world has ever seen, and then realize the Clinton/Democratic establishment encompassed all this and decided Terry McAuliffe was the answer.

Awful. It’s just awful.

Rounding out last night’s elongated fiasco were the TV “news people,” a school of hot-take pilot fish who couldn’t wait to blame the night’s events on progressives in Congress. Hours before the race was called, A polyp of CNNThe talking heads continued to speak. “Maybe the Democrats are learning they’re too liberal and need to slow down with this reconciliation bill,” said one. “Biden promised to make everything normal again and he hasn’t,” said another. A third — my personal favorite — chimed in with, “Youngkin has given Republicans a blueprint for how to talk to suburban voters about education.”

Here are some facts about this box of rocks.

1. The reconciliation bill’s main components are popular with a large portion of the electorate, even Republican voters. Only those who are opposed to it are the same corporate Democrats that thought McAuliffe was wise.

2. When a majority of Republicans refuse to be vaccinated amidst a ravenous pandemic because they’re on board with the last president, who wants to screw the current president by any means necessary, “normal” is not going to be on the menu.

3. Youngkin’s “blueprint” — if translated into GOP campaigns across the country in the coming year — may well be the final dagger in the back of this republic. Youngkin presented himself as a goofy “aw-shucks” kind of guy. His campaign profited from the flood of lies about critical race theory that was being spread by right-wing media. Conservatives have twisted this body of scholarship into a rhetorical tool to protect white children from having their reality distorted. Youngkin’s team also made hay out of right-wing media lies about horrific books tormenting those same poor white students. (The book in question during this campaign was BelovedToni Morrison wrote one of the most important fictions ever written about slavery.

If last night’s election “coverage” was a bellwether, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal better eat her Wheaties this week, because the corporate Democrats who have been snarling outside her door for months will be ready to use Virginia as an excuseTo burn the reconciliation bill to its stumps.

Jayapal is capable of completing any task. She also has solid backup because progressives have never learned to beg. “[M]aybe,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, majority staff director for Sen. Bernie Sanders, “just maybe, the ‘debacle’ in Virginia could have been avoided if we had a Congress that listened to the overwhelming majority of Americans and passed progressive policies like paid family leave and expanding Medicare instead of bowing down to wealthy campaign contributors.”

Maybe if the Democrats had done whatever was necessary to end or modify the filibuster, they could have passed legislation to do all those things, and protect voting rights, and help the climate, and rebuild the country’s infrastructure… you know, all the things progressives have been trying to do all year.

This is just one more post-mortem for a day that will be flooded with them. In the end, there’s exactly one truth I am willing to plant a flag on: The midterm elections are 365 days away, and things will change 365 times between now and then, and Donald Trump is still lurking out there like some dyspeptic shark in the shallows… if you think he’s going to be content going forward with being censored the way he was by the Youngkin campaign, you haven’t done the reading. He will speak out, and it will alter everything again. It will be terrible. It was just awful.