The Lesson From Virginia: Democrats Need To Wake Up And Fight The Culture War

Recently, Senate Republicans spent hours of a hearing with AG Merrick Garland talking about “parents rights.” Glenn Youngkin looks to have won a gubernatorial election based on critical race theory.  The culture war is back, and Democrats better start taking it seriously before the 2022 midterms.

Republicans have a decades-long recent history of using wedge culture war issues to gain and maintain political power.  In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was the face of the first modern Republican culture war that, at its backbone, was led by white evangelical Christians.

In 2000, George W. Bush won the White House by being a culture war and running on morals and values. In 2016, Trump ran the most overtly racist culture war message and became president.

It is true that Republicans attempt to run on a culture war issue in every cycle, but post-2020 is different because Republicans are combining anti-mask, anti-vaccine radicalism with their new racist code phrase critical race theory to create an unholy culture war brew.

Fox News and conservative media have been hammering away at the new culture war issues hour by hour, day by day, month by month for over a year.

The Democrats Have Had No Response

Instead of defending minorities from the racism coded as critical race theory or redefining what parental rights means, Democrats in Congress have been bickering among themselves about two infrastructure bills that they are in more than 90% agreement on.

Democrats and media on the left have been more prone to mocking the Republican culture warriors than countering the political messaging, which is very effective with a tired and angry electorate.

The political conditions will likely change by 2022. The coronavirus will hopefully be in the rearview mirror, but the culture war will rage on.

Democrats Need To Wake Up And Take The Culture War Seriously

When given power, Democrats have made the same mistake over and over again. Democrats think that if they accomplish things, voters will reward them, but voters are human beings, and nothing is more effective than an emotional appeal.

Republicans understand this, which is why they are always keeping their voters afraid and/or angry.

Terry McAuliffe never really had an effective strategy for negating the culture war in Virginia. He spent most of his campaign trying to tie Glenn Youngkin to Donald Trump, but Youngkin had preemptively defused that attack with a series of ads and a moderate tone.

McAuliffe should have been locally messaging against the culture war, but he chose to nationalize the race.

Democrats need to realize that 2022 will be a series of local and state elections.

Voting rights are a culture war issue.

Reproductive rights are a culture war issue.

Civil Rights are a culture war issue.

Running on accomplishments won’t cut it. Democrats need to fight and win the culture war.