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Glenn Youngkin is the Republican future The Virginian needs to pick his culture wars wisely

The new George Bush? (Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


November 28, 2022   7 mins

Clad in his signature red vest, 6’7” Glenn Youngkin cuts an inoffensive figure. I’ve heard the college-basketball-player-turned-Virginia-governor described as “a stretched-out Brett Kavanaugh”; both men have prep-school roots and friendly-jock demeanours. It’s an aesthetic that shouldn’t be underestimated in explaining the success of these two leading Republican figures. The future of the GOP depends on candidates who appear to be, above all, a safe pair of hands.

Youngkin took up residence in the Virginia statehouse in 2021, unexpectedly defeating (51% to 49%) the incumbent, Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, in a state that is increasingly Left-leaning. The election was decided by independents, who split for Youngkin 54% to 45%. There is a lesson here: the back-and-forth tendencies of the unaffiliated — usually driven by the desire to punish incumbents for failures in the run-up to the election — decide most American elections, which often come down to little more than a coin flip. Youngkin’s election therefore offers a blueprint for a Republican Party free from Donald Trump and trying to win over a nation that’s only getting more liberal.

Youngkin focused his campaign on education. He leaned heavily on the issue of removing “critical race theory” from classrooms and giving parents and local elected officials more control over public school curricula. Meanwhile, private-school graduate (and parent) McAuliffe handed him some excellent fodder for attack ads. The Democrat, who wanted to veto legislation that would have required schools to inform parents about sexual content in educational materials, told his opponent: “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and take books out and make their own decision
 I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” This blunder did not go down well with voters.

Since his victory, the liberal media has cloaked Youngkin’s success with a narrative: his privilege appealed to Virginia’s conservative elite. But this is a fiction. Youngkin may be rich (the former private equity executive is worth hundreds of millions), but he actually didn’t over-perform in the state’s wealthy northern counties — Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate who opposed Terry McAuliffe in 2013, fared considerably better in suburban Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun, three of Virginia’s five wealthiest counties. Youngkin’s campaign did, however, dramatically increase turnout in the southern and western corners of the state. For instance, he won 80% of the vote in southwestern Dickenson County, the poorest county in Virginia. Winning these areas by massive margins, partly by significantly increasing turnout relative to the 2018 midterm elections enabled Youngkin to more than offset his losses in the suburbs.

This is the Republican Party’s most viable plan for long-term success: swaying independents, or at least not driving them away, while also increasing turnout in poor rural areas. (The prosperous suburbs are likely lost forever, at least in terms of winning majorities and congressional seats.) Key to achieving it in 2021 was the delicate balance that Youngkin maintained vis-a-vis Trump’s legacy. Initially, he benefited from an event staged by Steve Bannon, at which Trump himself appeared via video. Youngkin thanked them for their endorsements, but later criticised the fact that attendees had pledged allegiance to a flag that had flown at the January 6 rally. Youngkin also found ways to dodge issues related to the propriety of the 2020 elections and whether he would certify its results.

Youngkin walked a fine line when it came to the classically Trumpist issues as well. After securing the nomination, he quickly pivoted from stressing his opposition to abortion (he supports banning the procedure after 15 weeks) and expanded handgun purchase limitations, as he had done during the primary. Instead, he emphasised education, even declining to fill out the candidate survey necessary to secure the formal endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

Crucially, though, he refrained from making these strategic moves in an obvious way. His team did not scrub abortion-related language from his website after he won the primary, as losing Arizona senate candidate Blake Masters’s did. He issued no ringing denunciations of Trump in the style of Wyoming Congressperson Liz Cheney or Utah Senator Mitt Romney. He merely segued from one set of advertisements that were intended to win over the base, to another set of advertisements that would appeal to independents (though he did, once safely atop the party’s ticket, acknowledge Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election).

Youngkin understands something that is overlooked by both good-government, establishment Republicans, such as Mitt Romney, and potential head-to-head Trump competitors, such as Ron DeSantis: you cannot drive up turnout from the base if you veer too far from their red-meat social issues and support for Trump, but you cannot win the general election if you fail to appeal to independents. Youngkin, according to University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, is sitting around 0% in the 2024 presidential polling; but he is playing a much longer game than either Trump or DeSantis — he is, as one might expect of someone with a background in finance, engaged in succession planning. 

There is precedent for this, particularly within the Republican Party, and particularly after the departure of a conservative whose rhetorical style set the tone for an entire decade. When then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was preparing to run for president in 1988, he had to fill the shoes of Ronald Reagan, a man who defined the priorities of an increasingly conservative, family values-oriented GOP.

Bush’s similarities to Youngkin are striking but unsurprising — tall, soft-spoken former college athletes with elite pedigrees tend to have political instincts that incline them to moderation. And the course Bush took to victory in his first presidential election mirrored Youngkin’s approach to winning Virginia last year. During the primary, Bush tacked to the Right, noting that he had repudiated his Seventies-era support for Keynesian economics and now backed the idea of a Human Life Amendment that would have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. Lacking Reagan’s endorsement, Bush finished third in the Iowa caucus, behind centre-Right Senator Bob Dole and far-Right televangelist Pat Robertson. It forced him to curry favour with moderate New Hampshire governor John Sununu, whom he would reward with an appointment as chief of staff following his victory in the general election, while running even harder to the Right to peel the base away from Robertson, who had shocked the political establishment with his strong Iowa performance. Thus was an initial polling deficit in the New Hampshire primary turned into a resounding victory for Bush, the momentum from which carried him to the nomination. 

During the general election, Bush faced Michael Dukakis — Massachusetts’s longest-serving governor and the ostensible architect of the “Massachusetts Miracle”, one of the fastest service-driven economic turnarounds in the history of the rapidly deindustrialising United States. Bush quite astutely ran towards the centre during the general election, hammering home a pledge to oppose tax increases — popular with independent voters, as this was the part of the Reagan legacy that resonated most strongly with them. He paired this with extremely effective attack ads tied to Willie Horton, a convicted felon from Massachusetts who raped a woman while on furlough during Dukakis’s administration, to paint the centre-Left Dukakis as dangerously soft on crime.

He also seized on Dukakis’s opposition, while governor of Massachusetts, to a law that would have required all students to recite the US Pledge of Allegiance — another issue that polled well at the time with independents and painted Dukakis as an extremist and Bush as the patriotic centrist. In one of his most famous campaign speeches, Bush called for a “kinder, gentler nation” in dealing with discrimination, illiteracy and even the environment (a speech derided by Trump in 1990, a mere two years after Bush gave it). The result was a resounding victory in the electoral college, where Bush won the popular vote in 40 of 50 states.

Bush offers Youngkin, and any aspiring Republican leader, a useful model. He took the popular language of activists and ideologues and finessed it, in order to move the party back towards the centre sufficiently to win over independent voters. The base will always be there, as long as they’re not infuriated by your criticism of their supposed backwardness. But you can increase their turnout if you focus your attack ads on subjects that relate to the nature of governance, but demand minimal expense or executive follow-through to deliver on once elected. Attempting to rewrite the public school history curriculum, which members of both parties have been doing since the early 20th century, is relatively cheap, for instance, compared to issuing pronatalist family subsidies such as those those championed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. But thunderously condemning that curriculum can pay dividends at the ballot box.

Youngkin is going to have to maintain this balance until he can run neither alongside nor against Trump. At the moment, he is having less success than many had hoped during this year’s midterms. In perhaps his worst gaffe of the campaign cycle, he told the audience at a congressional campaign rally for former Latino police officer Yesli Vega that her election could help “send Nancy Pelosi back” to be with her husband Paul, who had been attacked inside their house in California. This kind of tough talk might elicit laughter were it coming from Donald Trump, but from Youngkin — whose relaxed Southern prep-school bonhomie can lapse into something akin to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s sad exhortation to “please clap” — it came across as odd and off-putting.

In a closely-watched congressional election, incumbent Virginia Congressperson and centre-Left “Blue Dog Democrat” Abigail Spanberger withstood a fierce challenge from Yesli Vega. This defeat was cited as a failure of the Youngkin model, but not only was Spanberger — a former CIA officer — arguably the most moderate Democrat in the running, she actually underperformed relative to Terry McAuliffe in her own district, suggesting the tide is still swinging in Youngkin’s direction. 

If Youngkin is experiencing growing pains, no matter: he is a youthful 55-year-old amid the gerontocracies controlling both parties. Like Bush in 1988, he has a long road ahead of him, but issues he has championed, such as school choice, have major support behind them. On the subject of Covid vaccines, lockdowns and employment mandates — towering issues over the past three years — his middle-of-the-road positions, coupled with recent data suggesting that school lockdowns had a negative impact on educational attainment, suggest he’s comfortably on the winning side of the current national consensus. And so far he’s resisted spitting the excessive venom that could cost him votes from independents. 

If Youngkin is to challenge the likes of DeSantis for the party’s throne, his admittedly thankless job will be to carefully guide the Republican Party back to the centre. As he does so, he needs to pick his culture wars wisely, focusing on issues that offer the greatest return on investment from a marketing cost and the least post-election investment in their fulfilment.

This might seem cynical, but politics is a game played by cynics, or at least by practical operatives — and if Republican leaders generally fail to think like this, the party is in danger of splitting in two. Imagine a nationalist wing for Trump and DeSantis and another, smaller, pro-business wing for Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney. That sort of shock therapy might be what many diehards sorely want, but it isn’t what they — or the party — actually need, at least if they’re planning to win elections over the next decade or so. It is certainly not in the best interest of the independent voters splitting their tickets and budgeting their inflation-ravaged paychecks, for whom a flourishing, bipartisan civil society is preferable to civil war. 


Oliver Bateman is a historian and journalist based in Pittsburgh. He blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at his Substack, Oliver Bateman Does the Work

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Buena Vista
Buena Vista
1 year ago

Youngkin may well be the Republican nominee in 2028 or later, but for now he doesn’t have anything remotely close to the recognition and accolades of Desantis.
Youngkin currently does not have a fully-cooperative state legislature–the Dems control the state senate–but that could change in a year. The ability to actully pass legislation and roll back the damge done by Ralph Northam and co. will hopefully cement Youngkin’s legacy. As I am a Virginia resident, I hope it turns out that way.
Yesli Vega actually ran a pretty good race against Abigail Spanberger, but she was a lackluster candidate and the RNC didn’t give her nearly the help she needed. Given the political makeup of the district (Virginia 7th), I’d say the final tally–52 to 48 in favor of Spanberger–was better than expected, and this was due to frustration with the Dems in general. Youngkin had nothing to do with it.
And why would Unherd ask a guy from Pittsburg to comment on Virginia politics? I’m feeling a textbook case of Gell-Mann amnesia.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
― Michael Crichton

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yep. Oliver Bateman is a reliable example.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I am proud to say that I was red pilled by Covid to the point where I just assume international news is a pile of BS as well. I mean who really knows what is going on in Ukraine – we are literally being fed wartime propaganda. Same with China and their current unrest. There are massive protests in Brazil we don’t hear about (because they are over allegedly stolen elections by progressives) and Dutch farmers are in huge protests which we don’t hear about (because fighting global warming by destroying modern agriculture is necessary 
 or something).

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yep. Oliver Bateman is a reliable example.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I am proud to say that I was red pilled by Covid to the point where I just assume international news is a pile of BS as well. I mean who really knows what is going on in Ukraine – we are literally being fed wartime propaganda. Same with China and their current unrest. There are massive protests in Brazil we don’t hear about (because they are over allegedly stolen elections by progressives) and Dutch farmers are in huge protests which we don’t hear about (because fighting global warming by destroying modern agriculture is necessary 
 or something).

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

Youngkin is a hedge fund manager with no track record. The man hasn’t successfully governed anything, let alone stood up against the hurricane of the elite press trying to destroy him.
DeSantis has stood in that gale for at least 3 years and not just defended his territory but gone on offense to make their lives harder. He has driven real legislation against the strongest opposition of all of media and corporate America.
Those of us who want a Trump alternative need to make sure we don’t have no many. Youngkin may get there someday, but 2024 isn’t his year.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

It is laughable to read what Mr. Bateman thinks about who should lead the Republican party. Perhaps Tucker Carlson should write the next article on who should lead the Democrat Party.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
― Michael Crichton

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

Youngkin is a hedge fund manager with no track record. The man hasn’t successfully governed anything, let alone stood up against the hurricane of the elite press trying to destroy him.
DeSantis has stood in that gale for at least 3 years and not just defended his territory but gone on offense to make their lives harder. He has driven real legislation against the strongest opposition of all of media and corporate America.
Those of us who want a Trump alternative need to make sure we don’t have no many. Youngkin may get there someday, but 2024 isn’t his year.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Buena Vista

It is laughable to read what Mr. Bateman thinks about who should lead the Republican party. Perhaps Tucker Carlson should write the next article on who should lead the Democrat Party.

Buena Vista
Buena Vista
1 year ago

Youngkin may well be the Republican nominee in 2028 or later, but for now he doesn’t have anything remotely close to the recognition and accolades of Desantis.
Youngkin currently does not have a fully-cooperative state legislature–the Dems control the state senate–but that could change in a year. The ability to actully pass legislation and roll back the damge done by Ralph Northam and co. will hopefully cement Youngkin’s legacy. As I am a Virginia resident, I hope it turns out that way.
Yesli Vega actually ran a pretty good race against Abigail Spanberger, but she was a lackluster candidate and the RNC didn’t give her nearly the help she needed. Given the political makeup of the district (Virginia 7th), I’d say the final tally–52 to 48 in favor of Spanberger–was better than expected, and this was due to frustration with the Dems in general. Youngkin had nothing to do with it.
And why would Unherd ask a guy from Pittsburg to comment on Virginia politics? I’m feeling a textbook case of Gell-Mann amnesia.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago

This article was quietly disturbing for a number of reasons (besides the raw gaslighting) – he’s trying to lump Desantis with Trump, while differentiating Youngkin as a “reasonable centrist”.

He also has the fantasy that there is a Romney-Chaney “wing” of the Republican Party (both of who are extremely unpopular among the great mass of Republicans) that must be catered to (to do what exactly?

It struck me as a left wing guy wishing that Republicans were more like Democrats- who have gone over to the nutty left.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

The article is a complete joke. As if Tucker wrote about who should the Dems’ elect.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

The article is a complete joke. As if Tucker wrote about who should the Dems’ elect.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago

This article was quietly disturbing for a number of reasons (besides the raw gaslighting) – he’s trying to lump Desantis with Trump, while differentiating Youngkin as a “reasonable centrist”.

He also has the fantasy that there is a Romney-Chaney “wing” of the Republican Party (both of who are extremely unpopular among the great mass of Republicans) that must be catered to (to do what exactly?

It struck me as a left wing guy wishing that Republicans were more like Democrats- who have gone over to the nutty left.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

This seems like the wishful thinking typical of establishment liberals whose bias always shows in their attempts to convince themselves and everyone else that whatever the current incarnation of ‘liberal’ happens to be, (nevermind that liberal today means something quite different than in 1980 or 1880) it’s right on the verge of taking over as the dominant worldview and allowing them to accomplish all their utopian fantasies. First off, Youngkin isn’t a moderate. As the author points out, he was the Trump supported candidate in the primary, which he won. He was not expected to win the general election, or even come particularly close, but he did win. The establishment types love Romney, Cheney because they are basically no different than the Democrats. They were for big government, against personal choice and states rights, favored open borders and free trade, supported internationalism, etc. They were just more coastal elites who lowered taxes and pretended to care about guns, abortion, and other pet issues of the right. They made reliable governing partners who agreed on the big issues and thus, were acceptable. They were easy to deal with, easy to understand, and easy to beat in elections without much risk of the public seeing the actual endgame of neoliberal policy. As much as I personally loathe the man and think he’s a woefully incompetent grifter, Trump flipped a table that somebody needed to flip so that there could be a real opposition party. Unfortunately for the author and others in that boat, there is no way to undo what Trump did. The Republicans are now a true opposition party representing a very different constituency, and are likely to remain so. Either side might succeed in building a monopoly on federal power, though that would be tenuous and likely temporary, and it would breed resentment that might well be channeled into violence and secessionism. It is GOOD that there are two parties that represent different groups and ideas. It is GOOD that they are relatively balanced. If either of these things changes, it will be bad, regardless of how journalists feel about the matter. The author is right to fear civil war. He’s got the rest backwards. Romney, Cheney, and a bunch of moderates won’t save America. Outlets for political anger like Trump, DeSantis, etc. on the other hand, perform a valuable function. They serve as outlets for political anger that might otherwise build up into outright rebellion. I, for one, would rather live in a country with honest political disagreements and a barely functional government than a de facto one party state that ignores the views of most of its people.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

This seems like the wishful thinking typical of establishment liberals whose bias always shows in their attempts to convince themselves and everyone else that whatever the current incarnation of ‘liberal’ happens to be, (nevermind that liberal today means something quite different than in 1980 or 1880) it’s right on the verge of taking over as the dominant worldview and allowing them to accomplish all their utopian fantasies. First off, Youngkin isn’t a moderate. As the author points out, he was the Trump supported candidate in the primary, which he won. He was not expected to win the general election, or even come particularly close, but he did win. The establishment types love Romney, Cheney because they are basically no different than the Democrats. They were for big government, against personal choice and states rights, favored open borders and free trade, supported internationalism, etc. They were just more coastal elites who lowered taxes and pretended to care about guns, abortion, and other pet issues of the right. They made reliable governing partners who agreed on the big issues and thus, were acceptable. They were easy to deal with, easy to understand, and easy to beat in elections without much risk of the public seeing the actual endgame of neoliberal policy. As much as I personally loathe the man and think he’s a woefully incompetent grifter, Trump flipped a table that somebody needed to flip so that there could be a real opposition party. Unfortunately for the author and others in that boat, there is no way to undo what Trump did. The Republicans are now a true opposition party representing a very different constituency, and are likely to remain so. Either side might succeed in building a monopoly on federal power, though that would be tenuous and likely temporary, and it would breed resentment that might well be channeled into violence and secessionism. It is GOOD that there are two parties that represent different groups and ideas. It is GOOD that they are relatively balanced. If either of these things changes, it will be bad, regardless of how journalists feel about the matter. The author is right to fear civil war. He’s got the rest backwards. Romney, Cheney, and a bunch of moderates won’t save America. Outlets for political anger like Trump, DeSantis, etc. on the other hand, perform a valuable function. They serve as outlets for political anger that might otherwise build up into outright rebellion. I, for one, would rather live in a country with honest political disagreements and a barely functional government than a de facto one party state that ignores the views of most of its people.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

The only thing I’m not convinced by in this article is the assertion that, “The base will always be there, as long as they’re not infuriated by your criticism of their supposed backwardness.”
Is it really that simple to hold the Republican base? My impression is many of them need a firebrand like Trump to motivate them to turn out and vote. I also suspect a successful Republican presidential candidate will have to be more moderate on issues such as abortion where many of the base hold strong views.
I very much hope the Republicans field a more moderate candidate in 2024. One who actually knows how to govern and implement a conservative agenda. The Republicans poor performance in the midterms, and Trump’s unwillingness to step back and become elder statesman, is not encouraging.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It was not the base asking Rick Scott to announce that he would destroy Social Security and Medicare or Lindsey Graham to declare that he would implement a national abortion ban if they took Congress. The party had even explicitly told their voters abortion would be left strictly to the states if Roe was overturned. Mitch McConnell made the decision to pull funding out of the races of populist candidates. Those were GOP establishment choices. When the Democrats were sabotaging Republican primaries by conducting false advertising campaigns about what the candidates they were voting for stood for, the Republican party could have raised hell and let all their voters know what was going on. They did not. Having no stated agenda for the American people, but hoping that just how unpopular their opponents were would bring them victory was a party establishment choice. Trump fundraising with candidates and then taking almost all of it for his personal campaign war chest… no wait, that one was all Trump.
The point is the Republican establishment is terrified. They own many of these screw ups. They are trying to put as much of the blame on Trump as possible, but the fact they are too afraid to even mention Dobbs or Scott’s comments is telling. As for Trump, his star is waning. It is rather impressive when you think about it. His own unchecked ego is somehow more dangerous to him than the entire deep state, Democrat party, and media establishment combined. Which is rather impressive when you think about it. I imagine both of them will continue to run into trouble since neither of them wants to learn any lessons.
I’m putting my money on DeSantis. Youngkin is just another name thrown out by scared neocon dinosaurs who cannot understand why hardly anyone has fond memories of the Bush administration or why most Americans have no trust in the big business wing of the party. Cheney, Haley, and Pence are pretty much toast and they have almost no one else to throw out there. The base does not trust them for good reason.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

There is no difference between the establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats. They are both feasting off the public trough at our expense. That is why Trump resonated so well with many.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

There is no difference between the establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats. They are both feasting off the public trough at our expense. That is why Trump resonated so well with many.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A more moderate candidate? One who will cave into media pressure and sign onto the hard left progressive agenda, simply to “get along”? Further alienating the base. I suggest not. Why do Republicans have to be moderate, whilst the left is not?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You’re right, and this is why liberal writers should either move to Nebraska and live there for about five years or give up trying to write about and understand Trump and Trump’s supporters. They don’t get it and they don’t really want to. They don’t understand it and there is little that humans fear more than the unknown. They want to wake up tomorrow and all this Trump populist stuff is over so they can go back to peddling end of history utopian globalism. They’re in for a rude awakening.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

If Trump announced as a third party candidate he wouldn’t be able to win – but he’d take a lot of his base with him and destroy the Republican Party.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It was not the base asking Rick Scott to announce that he would destroy Social Security and Medicare or Lindsey Graham to declare that he would implement a national abortion ban if they took Congress. The party had even explicitly told their voters abortion would be left strictly to the states if Roe was overturned. Mitch McConnell made the decision to pull funding out of the races of populist candidates. Those were GOP establishment choices. When the Democrats were sabotaging Republican primaries by conducting false advertising campaigns about what the candidates they were voting for stood for, the Republican party could have raised hell and let all their voters know what was going on. They did not. Having no stated agenda for the American people, but hoping that just how unpopular their opponents were would bring them victory was a party establishment choice. Trump fundraising with candidates and then taking almost all of it for his personal campaign war chest… no wait, that one was all Trump.
The point is the Republican establishment is terrified. They own many of these screw ups. They are trying to put as much of the blame on Trump as possible, but the fact they are too afraid to even mention Dobbs or Scott’s comments is telling. As for Trump, his star is waning. It is rather impressive when you think about it. His own unchecked ego is somehow more dangerous to him than the entire deep state, Democrat party, and media establishment combined. Which is rather impressive when you think about it. I imagine both of them will continue to run into trouble since neither of them wants to learn any lessons.
I’m putting my money on DeSantis. Youngkin is just another name thrown out by scared neocon dinosaurs who cannot understand why hardly anyone has fond memories of the Bush administration or why most Americans have no trust in the big business wing of the party. Cheney, Haley, and Pence are pretty much toast and they have almost no one else to throw out there. The base does not trust them for good reason.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A more moderate candidate? One who will cave into media pressure and sign onto the hard left progressive agenda, simply to “get along”? Further alienating the base. I suggest not. Why do Republicans have to be moderate, whilst the left is not?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You’re right, and this is why liberal writers should either move to Nebraska and live there for about five years or give up trying to write about and understand Trump and Trump’s supporters. They don’t get it and they don’t really want to. They don’t understand it and there is little that humans fear more than the unknown. They want to wake up tomorrow and all this Trump populist stuff is over so they can go back to peddling end of history utopian globalism. They’re in for a rude awakening.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

If Trump announced as a third party candidate he wouldn’t be able to win – but he’d take a lot of his base with him and destroy the Republican Party.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

The only thing I’m not convinced by in this article is the assertion that, “The base will always be there, as long as they’re not infuriated by your criticism of their supposed backwardness.”
Is it really that simple to hold the Republican base? My impression is many of them need a firebrand like Trump to motivate them to turn out and vote. I also suspect a successful Republican presidential candidate will have to be more moderate on issues such as abortion where many of the base hold strong views.
I very much hope the Republicans field a more moderate candidate in 2024. One who actually knows how to govern and implement a conservative agenda. The Republicans poor performance in the midterms, and Trump’s unwillingness to step back and become elder statesman, is not encouraging.

Garrett R
Garrett R
1 year ago

Youngkin does not have the pedigree or the national profile of DeSantis. At the end of the day, he is a PE man worth hundreds of millions like Romney who had the luck to run in 2020 against one the worst run campaigns in the nation. You can be sure that Democrats will ruthlessly expose his investment record and his cozy connections at Carlisle and DC power like they did to Romney in 2012. For DeSantis, it is very, very easy to lean into the Dem attacks about Youngkin being a DC insider. DeSantis will also come across as far more relatable to poor and rural areas with a younger family and wife he just supported through cancer.

The real question could be this: would DeSantis appoint Youngkin as a running mate or possibly to his cabinet? I think DeSantis likely picks a woman if he secures the Republican nomination, but we will see.

Garrett R
Garrett R
1 year ago

Youngkin does not have the pedigree or the national profile of DeSantis. At the end of the day, he is a PE man worth hundreds of millions like Romney who had the luck to run in 2020 against one the worst run campaigns in the nation. You can be sure that Democrats will ruthlessly expose his investment record and his cozy connections at Carlisle and DC power like they did to Romney in 2012. For DeSantis, it is very, very easy to lean into the Dem attacks about Youngkin being a DC insider. DeSantis will also come across as far more relatable to poor and rural areas with a younger family and wife he just supported through cancer.

The real question could be this: would DeSantis appoint Youngkin as a running mate or possibly to his cabinet? I think DeSantis likely picks a woman if he secures the Republican nomination, but we will see.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago

“Youngkin focused his campaign on education.”
Sort of. The issue found Youngkin. He did not proactively take up the issue.
Loudon County was the epicenter of a spontaneous rebellion–a rebellion by parents, by reliable Obama/Biden/Hillary voters situated right outside DC. The county swung 10 points from Democrats to Republicans between the 2020 election and the 2021 election that ushered in Youngkin and his posse of Winsome Sears (Lt. Governor) and Jason Miyares (Attorney General).
This trio was collectively running a vacuous campaign. The CRT matter erupted. The trio had the sense to nominally support the parents over the Loudon County school system. The ten-point swing accounted for the entire winning margin in the election.
Youngkin and his posse barely won. So far, they are still the path-of-least-resistance Republicans they have always been.
I get their campaign materials in my inbox. Vacuous stuff. All fluff and no substance.
Youngkin is not so much the Republican future. He is the Republican present. Republican Do-nothing-ism is nothing new and may very well dominate the Republican future.
I worked in a polling station in 2021 and 2022. I will work in a polling station in 2023 when a lot of seats in the state Senate will be contested.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago

“Youngkin focused his campaign on education.”
Sort of. The issue found Youngkin. He did not proactively take up the issue.
Loudon County was the epicenter of a spontaneous rebellion–a rebellion by parents, by reliable Obama/Biden/Hillary voters situated right outside DC. The county swung 10 points from Democrats to Republicans between the 2020 election and the 2021 election that ushered in Youngkin and his posse of Winsome Sears (Lt. Governor) and Jason Miyares (Attorney General).
This trio was collectively running a vacuous campaign. The CRT matter erupted. The trio had the sense to nominally support the parents over the Loudon County school system. The ten-point swing accounted for the entire winning margin in the election.
Youngkin and his posse barely won. So far, they are still the path-of-least-resistance Republicans they have always been.
I get their campaign materials in my inbox. Vacuous stuff. All fluff and no substance.
Youngkin is not so much the Republican future. He is the Republican present. Republican Do-nothing-ism is nothing new and may very well dominate the Republican future.
I worked in a polling station in 2021 and 2022. I will work in a polling station in 2023 when a lot of seats in the state Senate will be contested.

Michael W Enc
Michael W Enc
1 year ago

Good piece

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

If this man is already 67, how much of a “long game” can he realistically play?

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I think you’ve misread it – he’s 6’7″ (six feet seven inches tall), and aged 55. Or, possibly, you’ve ‘misunderstood it for comic effect’…

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well Joe Biden is 80 and talks of putting himself
forward for president in 24.
Joe Biden is incompetent and has dementia.
Youngkin is much younger at 55.
What’s your problem with Youngkin ?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Realistically, about 79 inches long.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I think you’ve misread it – he’s 6’7″ (six feet seven inches tall), and aged 55. Or, possibly, you’ve ‘misunderstood it for comic effect’…

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Well Joe Biden is 80 and talks of putting himself
forward for president in 24.
Joe Biden is incompetent and has dementia.
Youngkin is much younger at 55.
What’s your problem with Youngkin ?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Realistically, about 79 inches long.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

If this man is already 67, how much of a “long game” can he realistically play?