I teach political speech writing. My students know that earlier this year I served on a committee that wrote the University of Virginia Statement on Free Speech and Independent Inquiry, calling it “all views, beliefs, and points of view to be clarified.” and should be heard free from interference.”
I’m also a conservative, having recently co-taught the 2020 election class with a liberal aide – and we both managed to survive. In my class, predominantly liberal students know they can talk openly about what’s important to them. It is important to be open about your political views – but also to listen liberally to the views of others.
He wrote speeches about climate change, denigrating the police, voting reform, Texas abortion laws, misinformation on social media, the electric car, education policy, the oil pipeline, critical race theory, the oppression of China’s Uighurs, a universal basic income Huh. And even that requires taking more naps during the day.
Across the board, they want to hear all sides of an argument and make their own decisions. They don’t want to be told who to believe. They are taking up speechwriting because they want to learn how to make a good case in front of a hostile audience.
And what I heard for the November 2 elections was that students are worried about the job market and the economy they’ll run in upon graduation; They are concerned about the rising crime rate in Charlottesville, where they attend college; And they wonder if they will be able to freely express their opinion – left or right – here at the university.
So it came as no surprise to me that this week’s Virginia voters’ exit polls showed the economy and education were voters’ top concerns, just as they are for many of my 20-something students.
Old Playbook, New Circumstances
No matter what topic my students are writing a speech on—from critical race theory to electric cars—they want to take on all sides of an argument.
Similarly, many voters wanted to hear the views of both candidates on “kitchen table” issues – such as expanding job opportunities, ensuring public safety, and improving education – in the final weeks before the election. But that’s not always what voters got. Instead, they were often presented not with issues, but with overwhelming political support.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe brought one Democratic star after another: President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all made appearances for the former gubernatorial Got it done
On the one hand, McAuliffe’s playbook has worked for others in the past. Research by Rob Mellon Jr. and Kathleen Searles in presidential campaigns during the midterm elections between 1986 and 2006 has shown that campaigner-in-chief visits can boost polling and campaign donations for candidates – but only if When the President is popular.
The problem in Virginia was that a majority of Democrats no longer want Joe Biden at the top of the ticket in 2024, according to an NPR-PBS Newshorse-Marist poll that came out the day before the election. Add to that Biden’s crumbling approval rating, which, according to Reuters, plummeted every week in October.
It seems McAuliffe didn’t realize the effect Biden was having on his candidacy. Or right now there is a distance between the voters and the stars who are campaigning with them.
Unlike McAuliffe, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin early and often spoke out about his “day one game plan”, which focused on the specific actions he would take on the economy, public safety and education – issues of quality of life. Voters wanted to hear about. He hit the airwaves with TV commercials and made his best case, comparing his policies with McAuliffe’s record.
McAuliffe also faced a problem unique to Virginia that diminished his chances of success. Virginia is the only state in the country that legally bars governors from serving a second consecutive term. Virginia law changed in 1851, after several governors – including Patrick Henry – had served two consecutive terms in office. So since 1851, the state has only had one-term governor—with one exception, in 1974, when former Democratic governor Mills Godwin waited four years and returned as a Republican.
McAuliffe, who held the position of governor from 2014 to 2018, was trying to be the second exception. There’s a reason why former Virginia governors Chuck Robb, Mark Warner, George Allen and Tim Kaine all later became U.S. senators from the Commonwealth instead of returning as governors for a second term. Virginians are like a fresh face in the office of governor, and this election was no exception.
The last time Virginia had a Republican governor was in 2009, and a decade of one-party control over the governor’s mansion has fueled a growing sense of dismay among voters—including suburban independents who turned away from Democrats this week – Worried about stagnation. Changes in parts of Virginia’s economy, perceived lack of police support, and educational curricula in Virginia’s K-12 schools.
Rather than making a strong case for addressing these issues, the McAuliffe campaign preferred to bring Trump into everything. In fact, at a McAuliffe rally in late October, Joe Biden mentioned Donald Trump 24 times in a single speech.
That strategy, overall, did not address the concerns of working-class voters—from truck drivers dealing with a gas tax hike to urban residents worried about a 20-year high in homicide rates to parents. Disturbed is what’s going on at Loudoun County schools, where USA Today reports that school board meetings have “increased in violence, allegations of sexual assault of students have been in the headlines, and some parents have taken the district.” The school board has been sued over the equity initiative of.”
The turning point came when McAuliffe startled debate audiences with her statement, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what to teach,” not realizing that there are far more voters who are themselves. parents first – and members of a political party second. There was no going back when he failed to reject a Justice Department memo labeling parents as “criminals” at school board meetings. His silence sounded loud to all who watched.
These days, it takes courage to speak up for what you believe in.
My understanding is that there are an increasing number of Americans who are willing to stand up and boldly challenge the era in which we live. From what I have been seeing and hearing in just one college class, there is no doubt that more brave young people on both sides of the aisle will stand their ground for positive change in the years to come.
Isn’t it all about the election?
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