Columnist warns of the GOP's 'repugnant' 2022 strategy — but explains how Democrats can fight back
Democratic strategists have been describing the November 2 election results as a sobering wake-up call for their party. Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, which has arguably become the strongest state for Democrats in the South — and Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was reelected by only 3% in a deep blue state. Liberal Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent agrees that Democrats should view November 2 as a wake-up call, but he argues, this week in his column, that they should respond by going on the offense against Republicans and not let them control the debate.
"As Democrats ponder their recent electoral drubbing," Sargent explains, "they seem divided into two camps. Both concern how to respond to GOP culture-warmongering, which will be in full saturation mode through 2022 and beyond. Some are screaming for a purge of 'wokeness'; others insist Democrats must respond with carefully focus-grouped displays of concern about the authentic voter angst that GOP culture-warring successfully exploits."
Sargent continues, "But you rarely hear Democrats talking about how to put Republicans on the defensive on these issues. What about making Republicans pay a political price for these ugly tactics, the deeper aims for this country they embody and the degradations they're inflicting on our national life?"
Education was a major theme of Youngkin's campaign, and Virginia's governor-elect railed against teaching critical race theory in public schools — which was deceptive because CRT isn't even taught in public schools in the U.S., but rather, is a field of academic study found on some college campuses. Democrats, Sargent argues, need to do a better job countering this type of nonsense and call out the Republicans who are attacking any mention of racism in U.S. history as CRT.
"Take Youngkin's vow to ban CRT, which examines how racial disparities persist in legal structures," Sargent writes. "That sounded unifying, when Youngkin packaged it with pious assurances that of course kids must be taught the full truth about our past. But in practice, efforts by GOP legislatures to ban CRT could chill the teaching of that full truth. Some bar the teaching of the 'concepts' that members of one race are 'inherently oppressive' or should feel 'discomfort' or 'guilt,' or even concepts that provoke 'division.' That squirrelly wording could lead teachers to fear assigning historical readings that inspire such feelings."
For his column, Sargent interviewed Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association. And Anderson agrees that GOP-sponsored anti-CRT laws are misleading voters.
Anderson told Sargent, "Educators understand that the motivation behind these laws is an attempt to suppress the telling of America's full history…. By huge margins, parents want an honest and accurate reflection of American history taught in K-12 schools."
Sargent also interviewed Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney of New York, who stressed that Democrats need to use "social justice" as one of their strengths going into the 2022 midterms — not let it be used as a weapon against them.
Maloney told Sargent, "Children need to learn their history — all of it — without censorship or politics limiting what they can learn…. We shouldn't talk like eggheads, but I'm not going to accept the false choice that because people can exploit a concern for racial justice and twist it into something they call 'wokeness,' that we should stop fighting for it."
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