On Wednesday night, Late Night host Seth Meyers took aim at the Beltway insiders “ludicrously blaming progressives for the results” in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost to Trumpian Republican Glenn Youngkin in the gubernatorial election.
Youngkin, a Carlyle Group private-equity guy worth an estimated $440 million, made a name for himself by opposing mask and vaccine mandates, questioning the 2020 presidential election results in calling for an audit of Virginia voting machines, opposing abortion, supporting transphobia, and misrepresenting the presence of critical race theory in Virginia schools. Youngkin also managed to attract more moderates by distancing himself a bit from former President Donald Trump optically, even though the two are almost completely aligned politically.
“Youngkin enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s endorsement while also keeping him at arm’s length and declining to stand onstage with him,” explained Meyers. “At one point, he happily accepted Trump’s endorsement, and then at another, he said he had nothing to do with the tele-rally Trump held for him and acted like he barely even talked to Trump.”
“When they actually have to appeal to swing voters in a state like Virginia, they talk about Trump the way parents talk to their kids about The Babadook,” Meyers added.
In addition to distancing himself from Trump at least visually, Youngkin won by leaning into culture-war fear-mongering, spreading the largely baseless lie that critical race theory has “moved into all our schools in Virginia.”
“Youngkin jumped on board with the right’s new freakout over something called ‘critical race theory,’ a thing they can’t define and that isn’t taught in K-12 schools anyway. Fanning the right-wing moral panic over critical race theory was one of the key pieces of Youngkin’s strategy, as you can tell from how many times he’s said it,” offered Meyers, before throwing to a montage of Youngkin boasting about how he plans to “ban critical race theory.”
“So Republicans and Fox News have successfully weaponized the panic over so-called critical race theory, but I’m sorry, it shouldn’t be radical to teach children about the history of racism in American society. No offense, but kids should be able to read Toni Morrison without taking a Babadook in their pants.”
For the record, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, critical race theory is defined as an “intellectual and social movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color. Critical race theorists hold that racism is inherent in the law and legal institutions of the United States insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”