Over the course of five decades of public life, Joe Biden has confronted nearly every hot spot in American racial politics, from school desegregation to crime suppression, with varying degrees of success, that has disproportionately affected communities of color. When he ran for president last year, he pledged to “heal the soul of our nation,” which was fired up by Donald Trump.
Now, less than a year after his term expires, Biden is facing a growing furor over education and critical theory of race, an academic structure that has existed for decades that has become a catch-all term for anything Republicans don’t like about diversity initiatives, including how schools teach US history and other ripple effects of last year’s calculations of racial injustice caused by the assassination of George Floyd.
This question poses a number of problems for the president and his party. Supported by a right-wing media ecosystem capable of amplifying and distorting the debate, it echoes the whites’ grievances that have a tradition of electoral success. Democrats may hesitate to intervene, but ignoring controversy opens them up to criticism for being unaware or neglecting parenting – a sentiment that Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, used in his successful campaign for governor of Virginia.
So far, Biden has answered questions about critical race theory briefly.
“I think the whole answer is to just tell the truth, tell where we are,” he said at the White House last week. Biden tried to refocus attention on his broader economic agenda, which took a significant step forward on Friday when the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill worth more than $ 1 trillion.
Democrats view the conservative orientation of critical racial theory as part of a long line of racist dog whistle politics, a tactic that often puts their multiracial coalition-backed party on the defensive.
Cornell Belcher, a Democratic sociologist, called it “the latest, greatest and most eloquent version of the southern strategy,” referring to the political restructuring during the civil rights movement, in which Republicans urged white racists to withdraw Democratic votes. Party. “This is the latest iteration of the welfare queen, buses through town, invasion of the southern border, abandonment of the police.”
Jeff Rowe, a Republican strategist who worked for Yangkin, denied that talking about a critical theory of race was a whistle.
“Just because Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat defeated by Youngkin, says he’s a racist doesn’t mean he is,” Rowe said. “Nobody thinks so, except Democratic operatives.”
In the end, McAuliffe’s attempts to accuse Yangkin of racism did not resonate with enough voters for the former Virginia governor to reclaim his old job. Nor has he attempted to portray Yangkin, a former wealth manager who has never held public office, as “Trump in khaki.”
Political analysts said McAuliffe did not do enough to create a positive opinion about his track record or his goals for the next term as governor. Voter turnout increased, but it rose more for Republicans than Democrats – a sign that McAuliffe’s message “was not enough for a Democratic base,” said Amanda Wintersick, a political scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Biden campaigned with McAuliffe on October 26, but schools were not at the center of his speech, and he did not address critical race theory. Instead, he echoed McAuliffe’s message about Yangkin’s ties to Trump.
“I opposed Donald Trump,” Biden said. “And Terry runs against novice Donald Trump.”
Yangkin’s calls were particularly resonant in families still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.
David Winston, an opinion poll who advises Republican leaders in the House and Senate, said talk of racism – such as attempts to change school names – seemed deaf to some parents after the coronavirus affected their children’s education.
“Why are we talking about all these problems when their children are a year and a half behind?” he asked.
Winston said the issue gained momentum during the campaign’s closing debates when McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should tell schools what they should teach,” providing Youngkin with an argument that crosses the party lines.
“The idea that you want parents to play a major role in defining or discussing your child’s education is not a particularly biased discussion,” Winston said.
Adrianne Shropshire, the BlackPAC chief executive who supported McAuliffe in the Virginia race, acknowledged that the Republicans have developed a compelling message.
“I don’t think they’re wrong about the parents, and the parents want a better opinion,” she said. “They definitely want to be involved in school decision making.”
But, according to Shropshire, this conversation elicited a different response. Republicans, she argued, have gone from “saying white children should not sit in close proximity to black children to saying white children should not sit in close proximity to curriculum that speaks of the role of racism. in this country.”
Virginia was not the only state in which elections raised a critical theory of race, based on the idea that race is organized in society and that racism has historically been an integral part of the country’s legal and governmental systems.
The candidates who denounced him lost the races of local school councils in states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Connecticut. But after Yangkin’s victory in the state, which Biden won double-digit only last year, Republicans are likely to take advantage of similar messages in the upcoming midterm elections.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who has denounced critical racial theory in the past, said his faction will issue a Parents’ Bill of Rights to preserve the party’s emphasis on education, which has traditionally been considered stronger. question for Democrats.
Rep. Steve Scalise, a Los Angeles-based Republican, and another faction leader, said the election showed parents “worried about things like critical racial theory being thrown down the throats of their children in an attempt to teach hatred of America.”
The controversy over education and race has a particular resonance in Virginia, where some public schools are closing rather than facing integration following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Taxpayer funds were diverted to “segregation academies” reserved for white students only.
This cycle of racial progress and backlash continued after the murder of Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, when the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on communities of color. According to Hassan Kwame Jeffries, professor of US history at Ohio State University, the ensuing protests involved millions of white people, especially young whites who suddenly had questions for their parents.
Before the protests, “Kylie didn’t come home and say, ‘We have a systemic problem of racism,’” Jeffries said. “And now mom says, ‘What the hell is this? “”
As talk of race changed, parents suddenly got a closer look at their children’s education when schools closed during the pandemic, turning their lives upside down.
Some parents didn’t like what they saw or thought the remedy had gone too far, and right-wing figures branded such concepts as critical racial theory. The solution, Republicans argued, was to remove this theory from schools, even though it was not actually part of the curriculum.
“Republicans are lying. They are dishonest, ”White House First Deputy Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said last week. “They don’t tell the truth about where we are. And they are cynically trying to use our children as political football. “
But some say Democrats underestimate the power of racially charged messages.
“Many liberal political insiders tell themselves that racial dog whistles are obvious and only refer to racist people,” said Ian Haney Lopez, author of Dog Whistles and professor at UC Berkeley Law School. “It’s not like that at all”.
In the end, he noted, Trump received more votes in 2020 than in 2016, and he increased his share of non-white voters. Republicans have also nominated a wide variety of candidates in Virginia, including a black woman for Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Hispanic for Attorney General Jason Miyares. They all won.
Selinda Lake, a Democratic opinion poller who worked with Biden’s campaign last year, believes Democrats can effectively respond to arguments for critical race theory by saying, “We want our kids to learn the good and the bad so that they had a bright future, and I do not repeat the mistakes of the past ”.
Next year, she said, Biden “enjoys great trust, he has a lot of consolation, he has a lot of experience.”
Biden developed strong relationships with black communities early in his political career, but he does not easily qualify as a racial justice issue.
He participated in civil rights protests and worked as a lifeguard in the predominantly black area of Wilmington, Delaware. As a senator, he opposed federal support for school integration programs that included bus transportation and pursued a tough crime-fighting policy that increased the number of prisoners.
He later became a loyal wingman of President Obama, serving eight years as vice president of the country’s first black commander in chief. Last year, he won the Democratic presidential nomination and election thanks in large part to the support of black voters, even though some surprise remarks sparked controversy along the way.
Heather McGee, who studies the role of racism in American politics and previously worked for politicians and Democratic organizations, said Biden could succeed as her party’s ambassador by intertwining populist messages with talk of race.
McGee added: “You can be honest about the role of racism, and you can also expand the circle of people who feel they can be on the right side of the story by explaining that this is not a zero result.”
Megerian and Logan reported from Washington. This was announced by Mason from Los Angeles.