Every election cycle, social conservatives hear it from libertarians, liberals, and staunch fiscal conservatives (the latter of who usually mean well) at times about how the culture war issues (abortion, transgender rights/gender identity politics battles, religious rights issues, etc.) don’t matter and how they are embarrassing themselves and hurting conservatives’ chances at winning elections by continuing to try and fight them.
If we focus on issues we can “win” on, the fiscal conservatives say, like the economy, we’ll be on more solid footing and will be more likely to be victorious on Election Day.
My response to those people has always been: I’m all about winning elections, too, but if we don’t fight these cultural battles now, then when? Common sense says the longer you allow an ideological idea to take root, the harder it gets over the long term to reverse course by changing minds.
The very day I went from being a liberal to a conservative, I committed to sure as hell not sitting on the sidelines, and refused to keep quiet on pro-life matters and the like. For starters, I felt like I had already wasted enough time spouting off the wrong viewpoints in my liberal days, and I wanted to right my wrongs on that front – the sooner the better. In addition to that, in my view, fiscal battles and cultural battles were connected, and I believed conservatives could fight them successfully as long as we took the right approach and were smart about it.
Admittedly, we haven’t always been smart about the way we go about trying to “win” on cultural issues. As a result, some pretty warped things are now viewed as “acceptable” in parts of our society. Like allowing boys and girls to share locker rooms and showers and the like in the name of “gender equality.” Like abortion on demand up until the point of birth. Like telling white children in public school classrooms that they should shoulder the guilt of their white ancestors who may or may not have participated in the cruel and inhumane practice of slavery. Like telling young black children that they are perpetual victims who should view their white 10-year-old classmates as oppressors.
No way we need to sit on the sidelines on those issues. No way in hell.
While Virginia was a blue state, it wasn’t an “entrenched” blue state like California or New York, which is one reason why it should not have been written off by political observers on the right who have told us that all hope was lost for flipping it back red. Though I don’t live in Virginia, I live in the state that neighbors it to the south, and let’s just say that we southern folk have a keen sense of knowing when something is achievable when it involves ours neighbors in other states.
It feels good this morning to be able to say that, with Terry McAuliffe officially conceding the race, Virginia is red again. A very lovely shade of red. And while political analysts are still dissecting and analyzing the data to figure out all the reasons why, we can look to some surprisingly solid reporting from the Washington Post and ABC News yesterday as to what motivated voters to support Glenn Youngkin – some of who voted for a Republican for the first time in their lives.
In a Twitter thread, WaPo reporter Julie Weil recapped what the voters she talked to told her about their rationale for supporting Youngkin.
“As you probably know by now, Youngkin’s message that ‘parents should have a say, in schools’ resonated with a ton of voters,” Weil wrote. “I kind of like the old style of school,” she quoted one stepdad of school students as saying. “I still believe in the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance & God.”
In another tweet, Weil noted that “A Latina mom who plans on sending her 4-year-old to private school to avoid public school education about race, which she believes motivates bullying [said]: ‘Parents don’t really have a choice… They are adding new things to history that children her age don’t really need to know.'”
In addition to that, Weil reported that “A Black dad who’s homeschooling two of his kids said his older son recently brought home an assignment on Abraham Lincoln that troubled him, though he couldn’t say why. ‘I’d like to not vote for the guy who said it’s not the parents’ responsibility to take care of their kids.'”
Abortion was a factor in another person’s decision to vote for Youngkin, Weil tweeted:
One man supported Youngkin's anti-abortion stance, saying he once conceived a child with a woman who chose an abortion. "I don’t know what my first child would have looked like because of a woman's right to choose…. I want to be able to go to court & say 'I want that baby.'"
— Julie Zauzmer Weil (@juliezweil) November 3, 2021
Vaccine mandates played a role, too, according to another voter Weil talked to:
Another voter said he opposes mask and vaccine requirements. "I'm forced to vote Republican, grudgingly. I don’t even like this guy," he said, saying he supports abortion rights and finds Youngkin "self-righteous." But: "I'm tired of the mandates."
— Julie Zauzmer Weil (@juliezweil) November 3, 2021
Interviews conducted by ABC News found voters with similar viewpoints, all of who had voted for Democrats in the past but who supported Youngkin because of education issues including concern about CRT. One voter told ABC News that “The social justice stuff is just secondary” to educational concerns for their family.
Lastly, despite McAuliffe hammering Youngkin on the abortion issue, there was a wild swing among white female voters towards the pro-life Youngkin compared to 2020 in the state.
Yes, my fellow conservatives on the fiscal side. Those “dumb culture war” issues do indeed matter. Let’s stop bickering amongst each other as to whether these battles should even be fought and instead join together in fighting them. Virginia just confirmed we can win them. Now let’s get to doing it in other states, too.