In the shadow of a failing presidency, rank Democrat divisions and a nation suffering from economic malaise and cultural radicalism, motivated Republicans and suburban parents sent a powerful message to Democrats Tuesday: You’re not listening to us.
From the collapse of the last vestige of the Clinton machine in Virginia to the defeat of the “Defund the police” movement in Minneapolis to the setbacks in the high-taxed suburbs of New Jersey, Democrats are facing a tsunami of defections. The Democrats’ only hope lies in President Biden – who is himself failing to fulfill his promises and lacks the strength to lead even his own party.
Terry McAuliffe ran a tired, national campaign in the Commonwealth focused on demonizing Donald Trump — who was not on the ballot. Mr. McAuliffe minimized parents’ concern over their children’s education, calling the teaching of critical race theory an “imaginary,” “racist, dog-whistle” that “has never been taught in Virginia.” On the last day of his campaign, he rallied with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who advocated keeping schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents were infuriated at Mr. McAuliffe’s dismissive attitude, especially given they had learned first-hand from their kids what was being taught (and not being taught) in Virginia’s schools during virtual, at-home classes, which lasted a staggering 18 months. Republican Glenn Youngkin, now governor-elect, listened to them and outlined a comprehensive plan for public school excellence which included school choice, preserving merit-based classes, raising teacher pay and creating a safe environment for learning.
As a result, Republicans swept all three top-line races in Virginia, after having failed to win a single statewide race in 12 years. They did this one year after Mr. Biden won the state by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Youngkin made inroads with parents, independents and white suburban voters, besting Mr. McAuliffe in all three categories according to exit polls.
In Minnesota, the effort to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new public safety agency was upended by voters. The progressive push was to dismantle the MPD and replace it with social workers and mental health advocates in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last summer. Voters in the city, which has been experiencing an uptick in violent crime, decided safety was their No. 1 priority and defeated the measure 57% to 44%.
“I kind of trembled a little bit in the voting booth today because I live in one of the neighborhoods most impacted by crime and violence… and knew the correlation between the lack of policing and good policing,” Minneapolis resident Sondra Samuels,who lost four of her neighbors to gun violence, told Fox News. “We can have reform and we can have enough police to keep our children, our elderly safe. So this was a win tonight.”
And it was a crushing blow to Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Minneapolis Democrat and progressive “Squad” member who was championing the measure and looking to pass similar defund the police bills in Washington.
In New Jersey, the governor’s race, at this writing, is still too close to call. Even if Republican Jack Ciattarelli loses, it’s still a win for the conservative agenda. There are 1 million more registered Democrats in the Garden State than Republicans, and although polls were tightening in recent weeks, no one anticipated incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy losing.
Mr. Ciattarelli, a former state representative, made fiscal responsibility the chief issue in his campaign, targeting Mr. Murphy’s tax-and-spend agenda. It was an agenda closely aligned with that of Mr. Biden, who stumped for him on the trail. Mr. Ciattarelli pledged to cut New Jersey’s property taxes, among the highest in the nation, and streamline the state’s bloated budget.
As prices at the gas pump surge to their highest level in seven years, and as everything from groceries to furniture costs more due to inflation, a tax cut and reining in irresponsible spending hit the right chord with many voters in the Garden State. Republicans are poised to make gains in the state’s Senate and Assembly in Trenton as well.
Democrats all over the nation are reeling from Tuesday’s staggering defeats. Some are doubling down on the failed racism card to explain their losses, while others, like Virginia Democratic Chairwoman Susan Swecker are calling on the national party to “wake up” and pass an agenda that “gives relief to working families” if Democrats don’t want to face more losses come the 2022 midterms.
With Mr. Biden at the helm, that seems unlikely. He’s the party’s last great hope but has only proven in poll after poll to have lost the public’s trust on issues ranging from the economy to his overall competency. We are just nine months into his presidency and 71%t of Americans tell pollsters the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Here’s to the beginning of the great red wave, which will help right the ship.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at the Washington Times.