by Kellen Squire
Earlier this year, I opined on Ted Cruz – perhaps the perfect example of selling one’s honor and self-worth at the altar of obsequiousness – being the poster child for the continued emasculation of the American right. And while I still believe that to be a hundred percent correct, one data point does not a hypothesis make. And what kind of ER nurse would I be if I didn’t advocate for evidence-based research and follow-up case studies?
So today, we’re going to discuss Glenn Youngkin, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and his contribution to the further emasculation of the American Right.
At a campaign event with congressional candidate Yesli Vega – who justified her views on a total abortion ban by suggesting that women who are raped physically cannot get pregnant – the topic of the heinous attack on Paul Pelosi came up. At about the same time Mr. Pelosi was undergoing brain surgery, Glenn quipped “Speaker Pelosi’s husband had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There’s no room for violence anywhere,” he said, giving the barest lip service to disclaiming what had happened, before attempting to joke “but we’re gonna send her back to be with him in California. That’s what we’re going to go do.”
When I heard he said that, I was wholly and completely unsurprised; it totally fits in everything I’ve known Glenn Youngkin to be.
Here’s something I need to explain to those of you outside of Virginia: Glenn Youngkin was actually a perfect candidate for Virginia Republicans, because as I noted shortly after he won the Republican convention and was named the nominee for the gubernatorial ticket:
… it doesn’t matter how much of a ‘blank slate’ Glenn Youngkin appears to be, even though that’s a huge plus for him, as competent consultants could mold him like a ‘build your character’ screen in a video game.
I knew I was right then, but dang, I didn’t realize how right. Glenn Youngkin is the very epitome of the phrase “empty suit”. A problem we run into frequently with candidates is that they Have A Vision (TM) for how they’re going to run a campaign. Now, having a vision is fine… but as anyone who has worked on campaigns before knows, often, there’s a right way, a wrong way, and the candidate’s way – and whether it’s smart or not, strategic or not, that last is often the way that’s insisted on, damn the torpedoes nonetheless.
Now, Glenn would never do that – because he stands for absolutely nothing other than himself. So he’ll do and say only exactly his consultants tell him to, because he has no policies, no legislative agenda he wants to accomplish himself. He has no desire to move the Commonwealth forward or to protect her people, no desire to do anything but gain one political office in order to use it to pursue a different one. His only desire is him.
And that’s how he eked out 50.5% of the vote in the same place Donald Trump could only crack 44.0% in. Turns out being an empty suit and paying millions for the best consultants money can buy can win you an election in the right circumstances.
But now that we’ve established what Glenn Youngkin is not, we have to establish what he is. And the question of what Glenn Youngkin is points directly at one of the reasons the modern Republican Party is run by emasculated white men like him: they cannot exist in a meritocracy, and so have to do everything they can do destroy one.
Really, I think that’s the crux of modern Republicanism right there, and why you see the rise of toxic and completely emasculated man babies like Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Tucker Carlson, and Glenn Youngkin. They’ve never worked a hard day in their life, and would never be able to, so they need to create a system that doesn’t reward hard work. It goes hand in hand with the way Christianity in our country has sadly blended into Republicanism; the teachings of Jesus Christ are damn hard to follow (or, as those of you who also attended Sunday school remember, “Being a fan is easy; being a follower is not!”). Traits like kindness, grace, and humility are not easy to espouse. So better to create a system where those qualities are detriments, rather than assets, or else the current leadership of the Republican party wouldn’t have been let within a light year of being in control of anything.
This is also why you see the calculated cruelty, on everything from Glenn Youngkin attacking trans kids, to the “hurr durr Paul Pelosi got hammered” jokes any Republican that wants to be on a bigger stage is making right now. It’s also why admitting any wrongdoing is instantly disqualifying. So, no surprise that not only did Glenn not apologize or “revisit” his statement, even when given the opportunity to do so in the most softball environment possible, he seemingly doubled down on it. I saw that personally earlier this year when one of Glenn’s appointees went after my kids and family, and it took weeks before that person suddenly “found work elsewhere”. But notably, Glenn Youngkin strenuously denies ever making a mistake in appointing that person in the first place. Being cruel is hideously easy; if you’ve never worked a hard day in your life, why spend the time and energy to be anything else?
I guess you have to give the Republicans sardonic credit here; they stopped trying to pretend to themselves and everyone else they wanted to work hard, that they could win in a meritocracy, and so openly decided instead to create a system where they didn’t have to try hard and merit was never a consideration.
Even the media knows this is true; that’s why Republicans and Democrats have different standards for what they’re held accountable for. If the spouse of a Republican speaker had been brutally attacked, and I said what Glenn Youngkin said, or made jokes about them “getting hammered”, every media outlet in the entire country would be ablaze with apoplectic, spittle-flecked screaming Republicans claiming every Democrat from school board to Joe Biden was personally responsible for what I’d said. Because the media recognizes that, as a progressive, I value hard work and meritocracy; so to them it’s okay to hold me- and anyone tangentially, theoretically, or imaginarily related to me- accountable for that.
Republicans, on the other hand – even elected Federal officials who have openly said Nancy Pelosi deserves to be murdered – apparently can’t be blamed or even expected to pretend to be saddened by an attempted assassination attempt on the Speaker of the House. Heck, did you know the perp who did it once said something nice about Ralph Nader? Ignore all his GamerGate, QAnon, Trump-loving, Pelosi-hating posts, he was obviously a leftist, amirite? Again, knowing that Republicans cannot exist in a meritocracy, the media has baked this narrative into their reporting, which is why Republicans get the kid gloves and Democrats are personally responsible for everything.
So, what do we do about this? Call them out on it directly. In these terms. Because there are lots of voters out there who do work for a living, and work damn hard- but in the media environment, in the few snippets of politics they pay, they don’t get that they’re supporting politicians who openly despise them. Oh, there are plenty who know that and simply don’t care – the worrying increase in support of fascism is proof of that- but there are hundreds of thousands, millions more who we can reach by showing if they want real toughness, real hard work, and an actual meritocracy where those values are rewarded…
… that candidates like Glenn Youngkin will never be able to give it to them.
Kellen Squire is an emergency department nurse from Charlottesville, Virginia, running for the Virginia House of Delegates! Donate today, and help us flip the bluest district the Virginia GOP still holds!