THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS EDITORIAL BOARD
On Nov. 2, Glenn Youngkin was elected as the first Republican governor of Virginia since 2014. According to the Virginia Department of Elections, Youngkin won with 50.82 percent of the vote, only 2.42 percent ahead of his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe. Rather than being upfront about his platforms, Youngkin’s campaign was purposely vague and capitalized on fears about human rights policies, such as abortion and transgender rights, in order to gain a larger following.
Youngkin advertises himself as a businessman, not a politician, but his debate on Sept. 16, 2021 against his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe reflects the same rhetoric and political slander as we have seen in past elections between politicians. In the Sept. 16 debate, Youngkin claims “He’s the most extreme pro-abortion candidate in America today” about his opponent in order to demonize McAuliffe and attract voters who don’t support abortion. However, McAuliffe’s take on abortion is not radical; he only supports a woman’s choice to terminate a pregnancy through the second trimester, as stated in the Sept. 16 debate.
Just because Youngkin claims that he’s not a politician does not mean that this statement is true. He campaigned to be the governor of Virginia, and he was elected, therefore his job is to control and decide on policies. If that doesn’t make someone a politician, what does?
In regard to his platforms, Youngkin being elected as the next governor of Virginia poses a serious threat to transgender people. In order to gain conservative support, Youngkin used the sexual assault of a female high school student to push an anti-trans agenda, even though the perpetrator was not genderfluid nor transgender, according to Politico.
In his “Day One Game Plan,” Youngkin fails to mention reproductive rights, but he highlights his plan to ban critical race theory in schools. Critical race theory is not even part of the K-12 curriculum in Virginia. As Tyler Kingkade states on an episode of NPR’s Fresh Air, “opponents are using critical race theory as really more of a catchall to include anything teaching students about systemic racism … the definition that they’re using has expanded to include anything related to equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Critical race theory includes the discussion of race and the implications racism has on America’s history, but Youngkin views this as teaching children “to view everything through a lens of race,” according to Fox News. Youngkin doesn’t want race to play a role in how we learn about history, even though it is essential to learning how to be anti-racist in the future.
Regarding abortion, Youngkin identifies as pro-life. In his first debate with McAuliffe on Sept. 16, 2021, Youngkin refused to give a definitive answer as to whether or not he would sign a fetal heartbeat bill that respected the exceptions of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is in danger, and he changed the focus to allude to the idea of supporting a pain threshold bill.
On the other hand, McAuliffe dedicated his platform to enshrining Roe v. Wade in Virginia’s constitution, which he noted in the same debate. He stated his support of a “woman’s right to make her own decision through the second trimester,” and he cited his past gubernatorial history of blocking anti-abortion bills.
With Youngkin being pro-life and representing vague opinions in his debate with McAuliffe, it is hard to say what the future of abortion looks like in Virginia. However, as Youngkin appeals to conservative values as a Republican candidate, the future looks bleak for women’s reproductive rights.
In wake of Youngkin being elected, it is hard to know what is going to happen with a politician who refuses to call himself such in office. His focus revolves around conservative values, and therefore it seems that we know what the next four years will look like in terms of reproductive rights and social justice policies.
In response to the election results, The Blue & Gray Press uploaded an Instagram story asking how students felt about the election results. Many students responded “:(“ or “sad.” Out of 21 responses, 20 of them expressed disappointment in the election results.
“I worry that Youngkin doesn’t have any clear platform on LGBTQIA rights, reproductive rights or any big social issues that can affect minority groups having equal rights,” said Emma Bradley, a junior religious studies major, who responded to the poll. “I didn’t like McAuliffe, but even if I didn’t like him, I knew he wouldn’t take those rights from me.”
Bradley makes a compelling point, indicating the lack of solid plans Youngkin presented in his campaign. This leaves the 48.4 percent of people who voted for McAuliffe uncertain about the future protection of their rights.
“[Youngkin getting elected] means a setback for trans rights, environmental issues and abortion access,” said Wyatt Spage, a fifth-year history major who responded to the Instagram poll.
Again, Youngkin promoting a vague vision of his gubernatorial term leaves us with more questions than answers, which is daunting in light of extreme bills such as Texas’ Senate Bill 8. Although Youngkin did not support this bill, this is not to say that his conservative agenda will not infringe upon women’s right to choose here in the state of Virginia.
In all, having the first Republican governor since 2014 is bound to sway Virginian policies, but our voices still have power, and we mustn’t let them falter in light of who is in office.
This staff editorial was led by Norah Walsh.