I read the piece that Betty quoted below, and it’s pretty good. The author, Magdi Semrau, is right that running away from race is a losing position, and that turning the conversation away from amorphous sloganeering about CRT to questions like “should kids be allowed to call other kids the n-word in school” is the smart way to handle Fox nonsense dogwhistles.
Still, in my mostly white suburban neighborhood, where the Republicans were able to take back the town board by running thirty-something white women who seemed like competent non-ideologues, there’s something going on that’s based in fear. Most of the people who live in my suburb chose it because of the quality of the schools. Specifically, they chose it because they didn’t want their kids to go to an urban school that has an under-50% graduation rate and lots of violence. If I were running as a Democrat in a county-wide election and wanted to be sure that I went down to a flaming 60/40 defeat, all I’d need to do is to advocate a county-wide school district, where students would be placed by lottery, thus ensuring that more than a few would be bused to inner-city schools. If I called these moms racist for not wanting to send their children to schools full of black and brown kids, I’d probably increase that margin to 70/30.
Are these moms afraid of their kids interacting with other races? Maybe some of them are, but most of them are simply afraid of their children sharing classes with poor and lower-middle-class kids, because those kids tend to bring more baggage to school. Never mind that the baggage those kids bring is due to economic inequality that is the product of structural racism — suburban Moms who want kids who ace their SATs are not interested in their children taking part in what they believe is a social experiment, no matter what they believe in the abstract about racial justice.
If we’re going to craft policy proposals and messaging to counter the next round of Republican fear-mongering about schools, we need to understand that fear-mongering works when it appeals to real, visceral fear. Other than illness or injury, the possibility that little Jason or Jennifer won’t ace the SATs because they went to a school with lower standards due to socio-economic integration is one of the biggest fears of suburban moms. That’s just the ugly truth as I’ve observed it.
One more thing: as Josh Marshall points out this morning, one of Youngkin’s strengths was that he kept most of Trump’s stink off of his campaign. I’m pretty sure that Trump’s gross misogyny hurt Republicans in the suburbs. That’s something that we need to exploit, since Trump is clearly still in charge of the Republican Party.[I framed this post as “suburban moms” but obviously “suburban dads” have the same issues.]