DANIEL VAUGHAN: Republicans take lead on 2022 midterms, education, and more

There’s a famous bit in Charles M. Shultz’s Peanuts comic strip where the character Linus waits out in a pumpkin patch for the “Great Pumpkin” to arrive on Halloween, bringing toys and goodies to sincere believing children. Linus constantly preaches this to his friends and waits in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. Nothing ever happens. The wait was for naught.

Terry McAuliffe’s campaign was a little like that. He preached the great coming of Donald Trump to Virginia, which never happened. Meanwhile, everyone else was focused on reality, especially Glenn Youngkin. Republicans shocked the world in winning Virginia in a clean sweep.

It was Terry McAuliffe’s race to lose, and lose it he did. McAuliffe only had one message for Virginians: “Donald Trump, the boogeyman, is right around the next corner! Run and vote for your lives!” While McAuliffe told Donald Trump scary ghost stories at empty rallies, Glenn Youngkin did what smart candidates do: talk about the issues voters care about most. Voters rewarded him.

Long-time Democratic strategist and Clinton-world savant James Carville hit Democrats even more bluntly: “​Well, what went wrong is this stupid wokeness … Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey, look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis. Even look at Seattle, Wash. I mean, this ‘defund the police’ lunacy, this ‘take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools,’ that — people see that.”

Woke lunacy, lying about Donald Trump appearing around every corner, ignoring the issues voters care about — it’s toxic for a politician. Still, McAuliffe mixed it up perfectly to give Youngkin the perfect path.

But there’s part of the election that’s getting missed: Democrats don’t understand why they’re now losing on the issue of education. Recall back to McAuliffe’s infamous debate answer, “I’m not going to let parents come into schools, and actually take books out, and make their own decision,” McAuliffe said. “Yeah, I stopped the bill that I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

The cable news shows are focused on making this about the issue of Critical Race Theory in schools. And while that’s undoubtedly an animating factor for some voters, in reality, we’re talking about the wholesale collapse in the reliability of public schools.

Parents across Virginia experienced closed public schools throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual learning system set up in its place was an utter disaster and a complete failure. Teachers unions, which openly supported McAuliffe, opposed any changes. Parents had an up-close and personal encounter with what schools were teaching, the shortcomings of the curriculum, and the inadequacies of the system.

Critical race theory was a symptom of a much broader issue: the failure of public schools. As a result, homeschooling has exploded in popularity. Axios reports that the number of children being homeschooled nearly doubled during the pandemic. Those numbers are going up post-pandemic. From Axios:

The total number of homeschooled kids sits at about 5 million. According to census data, more than 11% of U.S. households are now homeschooling. And it’s not just white families who are moving to homeschooling: 9.7% of white families with kids have pulled out of traditional education, as have 12.1% of Hispanic families, 8.8% of Asian families and 16.1% of Black families.

McAuliffe liked to tout the public school system — but he sent four of his five kids to private school. He opposed school choice. McAuliffe blasted parents who demanded accountability and transparency from a system that has failed them for two years now.

Youngkin delivered a straightforward message of school choice, transparency, and input from parents. Woke lunacy is leading Democrats to tell parents they should have no say in what books are used, what happens in schools, or how to hold teachers in the system accountable.

You cannot tell parents they can have no input into a system they watched fail for two straight years and then call them all racist for suggesting otherwise. But that was the battle plan from Democrats, and if you flip through cable news, the mantra hasn’t changed.

As those Axios numbers show, however, it’s minorities who are jumping at all alternatives. Democrats are calling those parents racist for pursuing choice — it’s the most nonsensical retort to parents trying to pursue a better future for their children that it’d be laughable if it wasn’t the outright reality.

The Great Pumpkin and Donald Trump never arrived. But someone else did arrive in Virginia for the closing message: Randi Weingartner, the head of the national teachers union, to drive home Democrat’s tone-deaf message even more. She was the real boogeyman of the hour while McAuliffe was presenting her and her failed union as the saviors.

Republicans and Youngkin couldn’t have had better luck than for Democrats to come out against parental input into education while ignoring every other issue facing Virginians and the rest of America. And with Democrats appearing to learn nothing from any of the races this November, they seem poised to make the same mistakes for 2022.

That sound you just heard is Republicans popping champaign in advance of the midterms.