- After months of campaigning against Critical Race Theory, the GOP is taking a victory lap.
- A Republican’s victory in the Virginia governor’s race is being treated as a confirmation of prior beliefs.
- Ari Fleischer described it on Fox News as “an anti-woke rebellion.”
Even before Fox News had officially called the Virginia governor’s race, GOP pundits were quick to claim the results proved they were right all along about everything boiling down to Critical Race Theory and progressive overreach.
“To put a finer point on what’s happening in Virginia, particularly in the suburbs, what you really have – and this is the risk the Democrats have going into 2022 – is an anti-woke rebellion,” Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under former President George W. Bush, said on Fox News Tuesday night.
As Insider’s John L. Dorman reported in early October, Virginia’s trend toward a more consistently liberal electorate became complicated over the past year by several local and national factors, including lengthy pandemic school closures, debates over Critical Race Theory, and souring views on President Joe Biden’s job performance.
With Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin keeping former President Donald Trump at more than an arm’s length throughout the campaign, a less explicit form of white identity politics emerged under a more palatable framing of parental choice in how their kids are educated.
Fleischer’s analysis mirrored that of several GOP pundits who appeared on Fox News during the network’s election night coverage, but he narrowed in more on the key demographic that won Biden the presidency: white college educated voters.
“Parents, people who – college educated, especially – gave up on the Republican Party, are coming back to the Republican Party, because it is not a good idea to keep telling Americans that America is systemically racist,” he continued. “It is not a good idea to tell the American people that success in life is determined by what group you belong to, not who you are as an individual – and especially when the group is determined by race. This is what the modern day Democratic Party is increasingly preaching, and it’s really put off a lot of suburban parents, especially moms.”
Portraying Democrats as the party of hyperbolic and punitive rhetoric toward white voters was at the center of Youngkin’s strategy, and over the past two months, Fox News’ coverage hammered those points home.
Fox particularly focused on Loudon County, where debates over how teachers taught students about America’s history of racism boiled over into more heated confrontations that landed at the center of the campaign.
Insider’s Eliza Relman spoke to several Virginians in Loudon County about how they viewed the latest version of America’s political correctness discourse at an event headlined by former Vice President Mike Pence, and the messaging was right in line from the top down.
Even a 17-year-old echoed anti-CRT sentiments, saying it teaches “kids to hate other kids based on their skin color.”
Critical Race Theory is actually a field of legal study that seeks to explain racially disparate outcomes in ostensibly race-neutral policies. But the GOP and conservative media have made it one of their most effective talking points.
Other pundits on Fox News hammered that home, but Fleischer took a broader look at what it’s a stand-in for.
“The Democrats want to say it’s all about Critical Race Theory and that that’s a misnomer,” Fleischer said. “It’s about everything so much broader than that. They are badmouthing America in the name of putting down a lot of Americans, and there’s a rebellion in the suburbs against it, and Glenn Youngkin has tapped into it, and it’s bringing Republicans back in the suburbs where Republicans have been losing.”