Youngkin Panders To Paranoia

- New York Post

Ben Haskett, Reporter

In a political climate that is increasingly sullied by misinformation, tokenism, and pandering, the election of Glenn Youngkin as governor is a woeful indicator of just how bad things are. Youngkin, with a net worth of almost half a billion dollars, built his campaign around standing up for the little man and the gamut of traditional Republican values–decreased government spending, decreased environmental regulations, and staunch opposition of critical race theory and the ‘corruption’ of public education. Many of Youngkin’s political views are reprehensible or plainly illogical, but his obvious grifting throughout the election shows how little dedication he has to the people and state of Virginia. 

In July 2021, Youngkin was caught on a hot mic divulging what came to be one of several mistruths or withholdings in his platform. He told a supporter that he would not be discussing his views on abortion prior to the election for fear of alienating voters, but that he would go “on offense” if elected. This slip-up showed that Youngkin was willing to hide political agendas from his supporters in order to garner support. If this is not indicative of his character as a candidate, consider the image Youngkin advanced on the campaign trail. Portraying himself as a friendly, hardworking, every man, Youngkin drummed up support in many rural and impoverished communities in Virginia, but his life-story hardly matches up. 

Born in a well-to-do family, Youngkin attended a private school in Norfolk before attending Rice University on a basketball scholarship. Following college, Youngkin began working in finance and quickly rose through the ranks and accrued massive wealth. Essentially, Youngkin has never had a remotely similar experience to many of his most ardent supporters. Politicians have no obligation to come from a similar background as the people they represent, but they do have an obligation to be authentic, honest, and transparent about who they are. 

Youngkin’s ethos as a politician may be questionable, but his policy ideas are rife with buzzwords, regressive agendas, and overblown promises. The main pillar of Youngkin’s campaign, education, perfectly exemplifies this. From the beginning of the race, Youngkin capitalized on two right-wing paranoias. 

First, was the hot topic of protections for transgender students in public schools. Conservatives have long argued that allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with will increase incidents of sexual assault in schools. This claim, steeped in bigotry, has gone entirely unsubstantiated in reality. Youngkin’s campaign capitalized on a tragic case of sexual assault in a Loudoun County school to decry the protections afforded to transgender students in that district. However, no transgender students were involved in the incident. 

Second, is the boogey man that is critical race theory. The subject, which seeks to analyze the impact of race and racism on history and society, has been characterized as everything from anti-white rhetoric to communist propaganda–these claims are inaccurate. Youngkin himself described critical race theory as pervasive, and held Parents Matter rallies to drum up support from enraged families. The real issue, beyond Youngkin’s blatantly racist mischaracterization of critical race theory, is that both PBS and Politifact have found no evidence of the subject matter being taught in schools. Given this, what was Youngkin’s campaign actually based around? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines paranoia as “characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur.” Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines a pander as “someone who caters to or exploits the weaknesses of others.”