Something is happening out there. It looks for all the world like a punch-drunk fighter rising to his feet, shaking off the cobwebs and decking his opponent.
Republicans in Virginia swept all statewide offices and flipped the House last Tuesday. The folks at CNN and MSNBC were on the verge of hysteria. They channeled enfant terrible climate activist Greta Thunberg shouting, "How dare you!"
In New Jersey, a political neophyte truck driver apparently defeated the state Senate president. It may not be over, because Edward Durr, the Republican who spent only $153 on his primary campaign and $5,000 overall, was only 2,000 votes ahead of Stephen Sweeney, longtime fixture of the Democrat machine.
Sweeney initially would not concede, saying more ballots were turning up. Of course they were. This is a state where Jimmy Hoffa votes early and often from wherever he is. In the governor's race, Republican Jack Ciattarelli shocked incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a million registrants. They were tied until the wee hours, when more votes came in for Murphy, who claimed a paper-thin victory.
A similar scenario seemed to be unfolding in Virginia, where Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin was holding a four-point advantage over Democrat Terry McAuliffe. His lead dwindled as late returns came in from the Democrat stronghold of Fairfax County. Counting stopped mysteriously in Fairfax because of technical reasons, we were told, as Youngkin's margin shrank.
For some, it felt like the 2020 election. That's when counting stopped in several battleground states and Donald Trump's wide margins disappeared by next morning, buried under a highly improbable Biden ballot avalanche. Anyway, the Virginia race ended with Youngkin hanging on to a 51-49 percent victory. It should have been far more, given the mess that Democrats are making, but a win is a win.
"The Left never goes away – win or lose, they just keep working; whereas Republicans tend to go home, attend to their families and their businesses, and think all is well. Those days are over. This is a permanent war of values. Republicans now understand that they have to start sending more candidates to the polls, more poll watchers. They have to examine and tighten election security. They understand they're in a war for their children." (Columnist Robert Knight, in an interview with American Family News)
Worse for Democrats, minority Republicans won the other two top Virginia offices. Winsome Sears, a black woman and former Marine, will be lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares, a state representative of Cuban parentage, ousted Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring. Having a Hispanic take out a white guy who at one time wore blackface really messes with the Democrat message that Republicans are all racists.
Throughout the campaign, McAuliffe played what he thought was a Trump card, tying Youngkin to the former president. The Democrats ran TV ads showing Jan. 6 and Charlottesville rioters interspliced with footage of Trump and Youngkin. This propaganda technique, called "bracketing," conveys guilt by association. But it didn't work.
McAuliffe's ads also repeated the lie that Trump had called white supremacist rioters "very fine people." Trump had been talking about both sides in the cultural debate over toppling statues. He roundly condemned racists and neo-Nazis in the same speech. Youngkin did not fall for any of the boo bait, refusing to respond in kind, staying on a positive message of empowering parents, replacing Critical Race Theory in the schools with the Three Rs, and lowering taxes. Some of his best ads did carry McAuliffe's devastating debate comment, "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
Other results were also bad news for progressive Democrats. The ballot measure in heavily Democratic Minneapolis to disband the police department went down in flames. Question 2 had been endorsed by Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar, nine city council members, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the ACLU, but common sense prevailed in the crime-torn city.
In Buffalo, voters rejected openly socialist Democratic mayoral candidate India Walton and re-elected independent incumbent Byron Brown, who ran a write-in campaign after losing the primary to Walton. On Long Island, Republicans surged in Suffolk and Nassau counties, snaring many offices. In Houston, conservative challengers unseated several leftwing school board members.
Looking at the damage, some Democrats opined that American voters were disillusioned because Congress had not governed even more radically. A tone-deaf Nancy Pelosi, in light of the Virginia results, vowed to stuff even more leftist social items into spending bills.
Americans want the insanity to stop, but Democrats are not listening. As Afghanistan fell, and China rattled its sword, Democrats gleefully unveiled the first transgender, four-star admiral. Pelosi and Biden are actually pressing for $450,000 payments to illegal aliens separated from families during processing at the border.
The real reason for the upheaval is that Americans are tired of seeing their beloved country morph into a crime-ridden, Weimar Republic version of Drag Queen Story Hour.
There is no single issue that awakened the voters, just a mind-boggling string of Democrat-spun catastrophes: roaring inflation, especially in food prices and at the gas pump; the open border disaster; Afghanistan; unconstitutional COVID vaccine and mask mandates on private businesses; the LGBTQ agenda gone wild, and the sense that we're on a runaway train toward a socialist cliff. Also, parents got a good look during the pandemic at how Democrat-run schools are sexually corrupting their children and obsessing on race.
Loudoun County, Virginia, played a key role in the political earthquake. The Democrat-run school board suspended a Christian teacher for refusing to lie to children about their gender. They also covered up the bathroom rape of a 15-year-old girl by a "gender fluid" boy in a dress, transferring him to a second school where he sexually assaulted another girl. The first girl's father was muzzled at a school board meeting and arrested. The Democrat district attorney went out of her way trying to jail the aggrieved dad. A parents' revolt ensued. These events went national.
It's not always about the economy. Cultural issues powered the Republican tide. Americans – even many Democrats – crave a return to normalcy. They want crazy time over.
Turnout matters. A Central Virginia election official told me that her county ran out of ballots in every precinct and had to print more. Several people had never voted but said they did so this time out of fear over where the country is headed.
That's a good sign for 2022 and beyond.
A version of this column ran originally in The Washington Times.
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