To the winners in Tuesday’s important election, we say congratulations. There will be plenty of post-mortem evaluations and assessments on why things turned out the way they did. Sadly, it was bogus “dog whistle” issues of “defunding the police” and “critical race theory,” more than programmatic plans for improving the lives of people, that dictated pro-GOP outcomes in the statewide races. Those non-issues compelled high voter turnouts among Republicans around the state, and in Northern Virginia they worked to erode the majority Democratic vote sufficiently to turn the outcome their way.
This led to unhappy outcomes, in our view, around the state, and a new sense of urgency among Democrats to fix whatever caused this before the midterms elections come upon us in less than a year now. What’s the fix? Everybody is weighing in, including Falls Church’s own Pete Davis, who has penned an original piece published elsewhere in this edition. Our general assessment is that too few Democrats were equipped to deal with the depths to which their GOP foes have proven willing to stoop to twist the truth and invoke primordial fears, including invocations to racist fears, to their advantage in the electorate.
Yes, there is a difference between the two major parties that cuts very deep. Since the GOP is rooted in support for “might makes right” anti-regulatory (regulatory being synonymous with public protection) policies, its electoral approach mirrors such policy preferences. Anything less might be the preference of an individual candidate or two, but as a social phenomenon, the GOP has become the face of Trump, more than vice-versa. Democrats should not counter that by becoming equally ruthless, although some argue for that. Instead, they will prevail whenever they can effectively call out lies and dirty tricks in the context of offering tangibly superior public policy alternatives. Sadly, it is true that the gridlock blocking Biden’s Build Back Better initiatives in the U.S. Congress played a big role in how the Virginia election turned out statewide.
Republicans offer dog whistles, Democrats offer results…when they can.
As for the City of Falls Church City Council and School Board races, we have nothing but praise for the decisions voters made. All eight winning candidates, four each for the Council and School Board, were those endorsed by this newspaper, and we are pleased that we played a role in this sound outcome.
The candidates who won are all level headed and responsible citizens who prevailed in an atmosphere some in the community sought to foment in the last year of anger and distrust, especially targeting the School Board. It was a tough year of pandemic and racial justice issues and no incumbent sought reelection. Still, those who would have exploited this to disrupt civility in the City were turned away by voters. Now, as an added plus, the majority on both bodies are women for the first time.
Falls Church will thus remain in very good hands.