Republicans across the country are happy today. Heck, even I’m happy today. Glenn Youngkin is no portrait in courage; save that label for Liz Cheney. But he is no Donald Trump, and as often as Terry McAuliffe tried to hang that albatross around his neck, Youngkin slowly backed away and slipped the albatross off, like my dog slips out of his harness when he walks the wrong way around a pole and I try to pull him back by pulling him the “wrong” direction for a couple of feet. (That analogy might not work for everyone but I haven’t had my coffee yet so cut me some slack, Jack.)
Youngkin ran on a platform of lower taxes, parental control over schools, and supporting tough-on-crime measures. In other words, he was a traditional Republican. And he was normal! Sure, he was reluctant to denounce Trump and Trump’s Big Lie. I hold that against him. But I’m also realistic. He did not embrace the Big Lie. He said things that are basically sensible and true. He clearly is not a big fan of Trump, and avoided pitfalls like having Trump come campaign for him, or showing up at mega Trump rallies where the media could tie him to January 6. He said the right things when asked about January 6.
Ultimately, my litmus test for a Republican is: would you support the next coup attempt? If you’re a senator, will you vote to object to a fair election? If you’re a governor, will you send an alternate slate of electors to Congress just because your preferred candidate lost?
I don’t think Glenn Youngkin would. I bet Ron DeSantis would.
Of course the Trumpists are going to claim this as a victory and misread the results:
You don’t say pic.twitter.com/bmd26BSOAX
— Patterico (@Patterico) November 3, 2021
Another misreading, in my view, is the notion that Ron DeSantis is Glenn Youngkin but potentially on a national level. In other words, if Youngkin can win in Virginia, then his twin DeSantis can win in 2024. I think this is wrong, because I don’t see DeSantis and Youngkin as the same type of candidate, at all. DeSantis is a far more transparent example of the “hey let’s enact dumb policies to make Trumpy populists go rah rah” style of pandering populist politics. He has signed blatantly unconstitutional restrictions on free speech, platformed blatant misinformation on COVID on the same stage he occupied, prevented businesses such as cruise lines from requiring vaccinations from their customers, and (here’s one people forget) telling Laura Ingraham the Chauvin jury voted guilty because they were scared of a mob. DeSantis has never failed to pander to the lowest common denominator in the GOP and I find him revolting. Glenn Youngkin he ain’t.
So yeah, people are misreading the results. But to me, this result provides some hope that sanity can prevail in Republican politics.
Frankly, as long as Donald Trump manages to avoid the myocardial infarction that his lifestyle seems to cheerfully invite, my hopes for a sane political future will always be tempered by the dread of another coup attempt.
But at least there’s some hope today.