This article is scheduled to publish in the last day of January 2022. Like almost all of my pieces it was written well ahead of that. On January 15, 2022 Glenn Youngkin was sworn in as the Governor of Virginia. I was in Virginia on the weekend before Election Day 2021. Youngkin had a lot of people fooled.
In the run up to the election most perceived Youngkin as relatively harmless and sane. His opponent unsuccessfully tried to link him to Donald Trump; in other words, dangerous, (I’m being kind in my choice of words). It didn’t work and Youngkin won a narrow victory. Many felt he would rule as a conservative Republican. Remember, while I am not a conservative, I respect that legitimate political philosophy and do not think the words “conservative” and “crazy” are synonyms.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. In fact, to date Youngkin is more dangerous than Trump was; more like say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. There is a wing of the current Republican party that wants to out Trump, Trump. They are mostly Republicans with national ambitions. Virginia does not allow governors to succeed themselves in consecutive terms so Youngkin was term limited on his Inauguration Day. You connect those dots.
On Inauguration Day Youngkin signed an executive order making masks optional in Virginia K-12 schools. On that day the 14 day rolling average of new reported infections was 805,069 and the corresponding COVID death number was 1,984. Prudent people were concerned; Youngkin wasn’t, he was too busy pandering to dangerous extremists.
Another early executive order prohibited the teaching of what the right wing calls Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools. (Real Critical Race Theory is not taught at the K-12 level in Virginia.) What it does prevent is teachers from saying racism exists or ever existed in America. While that may be uncomfortable for some students and contrary to the right wing mythology they are taught at home, I’m one of those simple minded people who believes in teaching the facts.
It’s not just Youngkin, but the baggage that he is bringing to Richmond with him. His Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources nominee is Andrew Wheeler. Wheeler’s previous gig was succeeding Scott Pruitt heading up the EPA for Trump after Pruitt left the post under the cloud of a scandal. Before that Wheeler was a lobbyist/lawyer for Big Coal and has been a critic of climate change. Hardly the resume of a protector of natural resources.
There are many good things I can say about Virginia and one of them is that the flagship school in their state university system, the University of Virginia, is a top-notch college. Jason Miyares, who ran and won for Attorney General on the same Republican slate, has already made two controversial moves. He declared that Virginia state colleges cannot mandate vaccinations for COVID-19. He also fired the University of Virginia’s General Counsel who happens to currently be on leave working for the January 6th Committee. Nothing political? If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.
Perhaps I need to amend my suggested warning label on ballots to read; WARNING: Voting for a Republican has repeatedly been proven to be hazardous to your health and your state’s educational system. I’m not saying you can never vote for a Republican but I do somewhat liken it to speeding at night on an icy road while drunk and with the headlights off. You may get home fine but it’s extremely risky.
No Virginia, and everyplace else, there is no Republican Santa Claus no matter how harmless they appear at first glance.
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