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December 08, 2021 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily

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10 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com


arlier this month, Democrats lost unified
control of Virginia state government to

Glenn Youngkin, a mild-mannered, sweater
vest-wearing Republican who loves to talk about
schools. Leading up to the election, education was
consistently ranked as one of the most important
issues to Virginia voters. The Youngkin campaign
addressed education by constantly denouncing
critical race theory, which some, including Terry
McAuliffe, called a “racist dog whistle.” Critical
race theory, though, is not being taught in Virginia.
Or in any other public school. And in other policy
areas related to education and children, McAuliffe
and his fellow Democrats have specific plans and
superior records.

Take a look at Glenn Youngkin’s education

platform. Prior to his victory, his campaign
website offered a page titled “Restore Excellence
in Education” — it has since been removed. The
section had seven sentences. One of them reiterated
Youngkin’s desire to ban critical race theory, which
— again — is not being taught in Virginia schools.
The others included keeping schools open five
days a week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,
getting students ready for college, expanding
charter schools and increasing funding for special
education and teachers. Virginia schools are
legally obligated to offer in-person education, per
a law passed by the Democratic state government
last summer. Preparing students for college
is an admittedly noble goal (if vague), and it is
facilitated by the easy access to community college
provided by the “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back”
program passed by the Democratic-controlled
state government last year. This program makes
community college free for middle-income
students looking to work jobs in high demand.
And, of course, there is increasing school funding,
something McAuliffe also supports and actually
did when he was governor of Virginia from 2014 to
2018. Youngkin’s education plans, when not devoid
of detail, address issues McAuliffe and Virginia

Democrats have been working on for years.

Youngkin’s more expansive plan, found in a

press release that has since been removed from
his website, was slightly less vague. It included
another bullet point about critical race theory,
along with more vague goals, like “equip our
students to be the top-performing students in
the country.” Notably, neither his press release
nor his campaign website say how he intends to
accomplish any of these goals. Youngkin’s most
specific points pertain to school accreditation
standards, something McAuliffe adjusted as
governor to deemphasize standardized testing.
McAuliffe’s actions were bipartisan and stemmed
from opposition to high-stakes standardized
testing by teacher and parent groups. Youngkin’s
plan also includes a promise to “ensure schools
are never again closed unnecessarily for extended
periods of time,” likely a reference to school
closures last year, which were necessary to combat
COVID-19. Beyond once again offering vague
goals, Youngkin’s full education platform solely
focuses on critiquing McAuliffe and incumbent
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s records, even
when their records consist of bipartisan action or
life-saving pandemic responses.

McAuliffe’s education platform, found in

a six-page document linked to his campaign
website, emphasizes not only his past work on
education and issues in need of a solution, but
actual solutions. McAuliffe planned to address
teacher shortages, something plaguing Ann
Arbor as well as Virginia, by raising teacher
salaries above the national average. He planned
to include 3-year-olds in Virginia’s subsidized
pre-K program. He planned to expand existing
workforce training programs to allow Virginia
students to immediately enter the workforce
upon graduating high school. In addressing race,
McAuliffe argued in favor not of teaching critical
race theory, but of better integrating schools
and addressing gaps in funding correlated with
majority-minority schools. McAuliffe identifies
real problems and proposes reasonable ways to
address them.

Crucially, McAuliffe is not unique in his support

for effective education plans. Michigan Gov.
Gretchen Whitmer signed a $17.1 billion education
budget plan last summer. It contained provisions
to close funding gaps between Michigan schools,
along with an expansion of state preschool
programs. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed
a $123.9 billion education package, looking to
increase school presence in commwunities and
bolster special education programs, along with
expanding access to preschool.

When education is on the ballot,
Democrats are the best choice

Opinion Columnist

Maddie Fox/DAILY







t’s the most wonderful time of the year:
the holiday season is upon us. Streets

are adorned with gleaming lights, stores
play Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé non-
stop and your home is likely glittering with
decorations. I don’t know what your holiday
tradition(s) may be, but for me, it’s watching
almost every Christmas movie before Dec.
25. Each year, a few stand out — I can’t resist
Macaulay Culkin beating up Joe Pesci and
Daniel Stern in the “Home Alone” movies.

If you haven’t seen “Home Alone,” I won’t

spoil it. Go watch it right now. Here’s a brief
synopsis: a little boy played by Macaulay
Culkin is left alone in his suburban Chicago
house when his family goes on vacation and
learns that two robbers, played by Joe Pesci
and Daniel Stern, plan to break in. All hell
breaks loose as he tries to protect his home.
It’s hilarious, Christmassy and delightful.
The entire cast shines. However, this article
is not a “Home Alone” review. It’s about
politics. Because, these days, what isn’t?

What does a brilliant holiday movie have

to do with politics? In this case, there is a
clear link between the original film’s sequel,
“Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” which
is almost as magnificent as the first, and the
nightmare looming larger with the passing
of every year — the 2024 presidential
election. The connection is that in both
“Home Alone 2” and 2024, history repeats


McCallister, the protagonist, replicating
the same mistakes from the first film. The
family forgets about him once again, there
is no way to reach him and Kevin’s mom,
played by Catherine O’Hara, is worried
sick for most of the movie. Except this time,
Kevin ends up in New York somehow, living
like a king while staying at The Plaza Hotel.
The two robbers, Harry and Marv, are
back too, aiming to steal the Christmas Eve
earnings of a famed toy store. McCallister
learns of their plan and aims to stop them
anew. The 2024 election will, similarly, be a
repetition of 2020’s election, except the plot
will be much, much worse.

No one wants to redo 2020. Literally no

one. Democrats want to win the election
without having to respond to claims of
fraud, moderate Republicans don’t want

to deal with those claims either and the
Trump wing of the Republican Party
wants to actually emerge victorious this
time. Nevertheless, the most likely scenario
is that we will see a facsimile of 2020, or
something more horrible. It is unlikely that
either candidate will win with a significant
majority of the popular or electoral college
vote. Republicans just showed they have
an impressive hand heading into 2022.
Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe
in the race for the governor’s mansion in
Virginia. Jack Ciattarelli outperformed
nearly everyone’s expectations in New
Jersey, narrowly losing against Democratic
Gov. Phil Murphy, who won a second term.
Other, less nationally recognized elections
illustrated the GOP’s current electoral
strength. If the circumstances don’t change
— for example, if President Biden doesn’t
manage to stop the country’s inflationary
trends — next year could be a bloodbath
for Democrats. And even if Biden does,
Republicans are still poised to win back the
House and Senate, just by a smaller margin.

But 2022 is not 2024. Trump will not

just make a short appearance as he does in
“Home Alone 2” — he is a fantastic tool to
make Republicans go out and vote for the
candidates he endorses (except in Georgia),
yet Democrats get energized when he’s the
one on the ballot. And there is no doubt in my
mind that he will run again and will become
the nominee. 2024, regardless of where the
country is politically — with Biden at a 30%
or 60% approval rating, we don’t know —
will be a close race. Closer than 2020.

With that in mind, think of this: the

“Home Alone 2” scenario in three years is
Trump declaring that he won, even though
Biden has been reelected by the skin of
his teeth. Trump supporters blare out
statements about election fraud. Republican

states seek to overturn the results. This
time, no one’s there to protect democracy.
Democrats are entrenched. Republicans are
entrenched. It’s a stretch to say that “Civil
War” could begin, but violence would ensue.
So how can this be avoided?

For the time being, Biden needs to get

moving. He has to become an LBJ-type
figure who controls the Senate, and he needs
to do so now. Implement the infrastructure
bill. Continue working with moderates like
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan
Collins, R-Maine; they’re the answer.

Extol the bill’s bipartisan merits until
November 2024. Curb inflation by hiking
interest rates — a necessary evil — while
publicizing the sinking unemployment
levels. Support the police by following
the Eric Adams model. Doing so means
focusing on taming crime, which can be
done by expanding the police force and
training them adequately. Stop talking about
taxing corporations and the rich. It may not
be socialism, but it certainly sounds like it
— and politics is all about communication
and marketing. Instead, talk about tax cuts
for the middle and lower classes. Laud the
progress this administration has made
on vaccines. Communicate openly about
issues regarding immigrants and the
southern border and don’t let situations like
the whipping of a Haitian migrant occur.
Finally, avoid blunders like the France-
Australia debacle.

In the long run — stop weakening

democracy. That goes for both parties.
Let’s not forget that Stacey Abrams, the
Democratic candidate for Georgia governor
in 2018, never conceded when she lost
against Brian Kemp. Did she have valid
reasons to speak out on election fraud?
Maybe. Still, she should have conceded.
Imagine how different the narrative would
be — how different Jan. 6 would have been
— if Trump had said that he believed some
“sketchy” stuff happened (it didn’t), yet
conceded anyway. Democracy wouldn’t
have suffered as much. Neither happened,
because neither party is currently willing
to accept that they lost. Democrats spent
four years throwing impeachments at the
wall — even if only two formally reached
the House — attempting to make one stick.
It’s hypocritical for Democrats to assert that
they’re the only party defending democracy
when they’re also assaulting its processes.
Trump was an awful president; he was not

So let’s learn from “Home Alone 2.” Let’s

not echo the errors made so far and replicate
the 2020 incubus. We don’t need to be
Kevin McCallister in New York. 2024 does
not need to be a 2020 redux. And if you’re
thinking that it’s too soon to be talking about
this, as Christmas begins, it’s not. A year
has already gone by; the situation hasn’t
changed. Talk to your family this holiday
season — especially those you never agree
with — and find common ground. If you
can, maybe the country can too.

What can “Home Alone 2” teach us about

2024? A lot, apparently.

Opinion Columnist

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