The operative word is not ‘critical’ and it’s not ‘theory,’” oft-cited political analyst Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics said on MSNBC on the eve of the Virginia governor’s election. “It’s race.”
Republican Glenn Youngkin decided that demonizing Critical Race Theory “was his ticket to the governor’s mansion,” he added.
On the campaign trail, he promised to bar CRT from the state’s K-12 schools on his first day in office, though CRT is taught only at the college and post-graduate level, including in law schools. (Republican Lieuenant Gov.-elect Winsome Sears, who is African American and the first woman of color to be elected to a statewide office in Virginia, also denounced CRT on the campaign trail.)
Critical Race Theory is the latest in a long line of racially-charged code words, adding that CRT dovetails with Trump’s Big Lie
“Critical Race theory is the latest bogeyman,” said Dr. Brian Clardy, a Murray State University history professor. “Any subject in history, political science, sociology, the law, that even speaks to America’s racial past and makes certain constituencies uncomfortable is being put under this larger, broader umbrella of Critical Race theory.” He meant whites.
“What we saw in Virginia in the closing days of the Youngkin campaign was the Republican playbook for 2022 in the midterms, in 2023 in Kentucky against Gov. Beshear, and certainly in 2024 against President Biden," Clardy predicted.
He warned that in the meantime, “Democrats had better come up with a plausible response, a response that’s going to resonate, or the Democratic Party is finished because the Republicans are going to keep playing to the white racialized fear, and that is going to get them votes as we saw in Virginia.”
He said CRT is the latest in a long line of racially-charged code words, adding that CRT dovetails with Trump’s Big Lie “that he had the 2020 election stolen from him. That’s what fanned the flames of the insurrection on Jan. 6.”
With CRT, Trump and his Republican supporters--he endorsed Youngkin, who nonetheless tried to distance himself from the former president--have got “a second ‘Big Lie’ that ‘The Other’ is coming to get you. ‘The Other’ is coming to take your jobs, change your culture, erase your history and replace you. Tucker Carlson keeps pushing this ‘Replacement Theory’ every night. It is starting to stick; that’s the scary part.”
Trump’s Big Lie, CRT and RT will combine to turn out white voters in droves next year, 2023 and 2024, Clardy said. “Democrats had better--and quickly--have a come to Jesus moment and come up with a reasonable, coherent and realistic—not pie in the sky—plan for how best to take on Republicans in these elections. If not, I am afraid that we’re going to fall under Republican authoritarian rule, the likes of which we’ve never seen.”
He said the Democrats would do best to shore up support among faithful constituencies, notably minorities, and stop pursuing conservative middle- and working class white voters, who vote on social issues like abortion, guns and CRT, and not economic issues. “They’re gone forever.
“But some Democrats are afraid of excluding or marginalizing them. At the same time, they don’t want to be seen as too favorable to African Americans, the constituency that has been the most loyal to the Democratic party since the 1960s.”
Continued Sabato in an interview with Chris Jansing: "Race. That is what matters and that’s why it sticks. There’s a lot of — we can call it, white backlash, white resistance, whatever you want to call it. It has to do with race. And so, we live in a post factual-era anyway, Chris. This is a post-factual era. It doesn't matter that [CRT]...isn't taught in Virginia schools. It's this generalized attitude that whites are being put-upon, and we've got to do something about it, 'we' being white voters."