Glenn Youngkin’s stunning upset in the Virginia gubernatorial election could herald the dawn of a new political age in which the culture war against wokeness decides elections.
In more refined terms, this represents a clash between two ideas — cultural liberalism and cultural socialism.
Cultural liberalism is about free speech, due process, a colourblind approach to equal treatment, and a positive, if realistic, view of national history.
Cultural socialism seeks to use culture to redistribute power and self-esteem. It involves restricting speech to protect the emotional safety of identity groups, trial by online moral jury, a colour-conscious approach to ensuring equal outcomes, and a ‘critical’ view of national history.
One can be a cultural liberal while cleaving to the political centre on many issues. Youngkin didn’t repudiate Trump, but he didn’t push a particularly populist slate of ideas either. In fact, as a polished, courteous investment banker and former CEO, Youngkin is more of a throwback to the Mitt Romney brand of Republicanism. Regardless, Youngkin locked up the votes of Trump’s white, rural, non-university educated base. In addition, he gained ground among groups that have recently drifted into the Democrat column: women, young people, Independents and voters in the Washington suburbs in northern Virginia. …
Fully 35% of Youngkin voters said Critical Race Theory in education was the most important reason for their vote. Some of the largest swings to Youngkin occurred in wealthy suburban Democratic-leaning counties like Loudoun and Fairfax where high-profile clashes between educators and parents took place. …
Exit polls [found that] the youngest (18-24) group, normally thought of as strongly Democratic, broke nearly even: 47% for Youngkin and 52% for McAuliffe. This placed them to the Right of both the 25-29’s and 30-39’s. These results also reflect new evidence that Gen-Z are more opposed than Millennials to Cancel Culture and Critical Race Theory while young Republican voters are more motivated by culture war issues than older Republicans.