Glenn Youngkin from the Perspective of a Moderate

Photo+via+Wikimedia+Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Matthew Montgomery, Staff Writer

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Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned to be a leader for all Virginians regardless of political affiliation. While we are only a couple of months into the new administration, it is starting to become clear that Youngkin is not the moderate that he said he would be. On his first day in office, Governor Youngkin signed eleven executive orders, many of which were hyper-partisan. These included a ban on the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia’s K-12 Public Schools, a repeal of the statewide mask mandate for schools, and removing Virginia from the Reginal Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 

It took less than twenty-four hours for the new executive and his administration to be in hot water with Democrats and even moderates. Many political moderates were hoping that Youngkin would be able to break the mold of modern politics and offer new solutions for how to work together. Now many moderates, myself included, feel that we have been tricked. These new executive orders show a clear intention to govern from the right. 

Over the last year, critical race theory has become a rallying cry for conservatives across the county. Many on the political right including former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have called CRT reverse racism and therefore it should be banned from all classrooms. Putting aside the fact that CRT has not been taught in public schools according to WTOP, Governor Youngkin decided that his first act in office would be banning CRT from schools. This action has demonstrated Youngkin’s willingness and desire to pander to the conservative Trump base in Virginia, thus alienating moderates and Democrats. 

The other major point of controversy for the Youngkin administration is policies surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to no longer require masks in public schools has put the new governor in a precarious and unenviable position. Lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of the executive order. Due to a law passed by the General Assembly last year, Virginia’s public schools are legally required to offer instruction five days a week in person while following CDC guidelines. Well, the CDC says universal mask-wearing in schools is necessary to keep schools open and safe, and there is an argument to be made that the new executive order violates the Code of Virginia. Of course, the court system will render a judgment in due time, but again moderates and Democrats are feeling alienated by their governor. 

Another point of contention, particularly to those who are concerned about the environment, is Youngkin’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the next Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources. Wheeler was recently the head of President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, where he consistently rolled back regulations designed to protect our planet. This is yet another signal sent by the Youngkin administration that they intend to govern for the conservative base, instead of governing for all Virginians. 

That being said, I am a firm believer that there is plenty of time for a turnaround. There are several simple steps that the new governor can take to represent all Virginians. One step that Youngkin could take is to bring in folks that he disagrees with. Having conversations across the political spectrum would make Youngkin a more effective governor. Another step that the new governor can take is to come out of campaign mode and enter a governing model. Recently there has been pandering to those who voted for him, which leaves Virginia in a dangerous position. It is easy for moderates and Democrats to feel as if their new governor does not have their best interests in mind, and that he does not care about them. This is a fundamental problem that Youngkin faces, and until he does, the division will continue to ensue.