In light of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s Tuesday win against former governor Terry McAuliffe, Teen Vogue claimed conservatives are “actively building a movement around whitelash” and “incendiary race-baiting propaganda,” as Democrats abstain from “focusing on what actually makes them different” and fail to “make a compelling argument about why they should win,” blaming their losses on having not been progressive enough.
In the piece, published in Teen Vogue on Wednesday, columnist Lexi McMenamin argued that Democrats “need to prioritize a progressive future over reminding voters of our recent Trump-era past.”
— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) November 3, 2021
Observing that pundits have started “blaming anything from an ‘enthusiasm gap’ to (predictably) progressives” after a “rough showing for Democrats on the national stage,” she claimed that Democrats knew there was a “decent shot” McAuliffe would lose.
Republicans, too, were aware of the strong possibility of a Youngkin win, according to McMenamin, because “they built their 2021 — and ultimately 2022 — strategy around the incendiary race-baiting propaganda that’s fueling their attack on school boards.”
“The racial and class breakdown of which voters went for Glenn Youngkin shows high numbers of white women without a college education voting Republican, a holdover trend from the Trump years taken to new heights,” she said.
Attributing Youngkin’s win to “propaganda and rhetoric” on the part of Republicans, she accused conservatives of embracing “whitelash,” a term connoting backlash by white people against the success of black people and popularized by CNN anchor Van Jones in his description of Donald Trump’s election victory following former-President Barack Obama’s presidency.
“Conservatives have built and are actively building a movement around whitelash,” she wrote.
Stating “there’s nothing more historically American than racist dog whistles being used by white men to attain power,” the Teen Vogue columnist then claimed Republicans have “framed their fight as for a change from the status quo,” while Democrats abstained from “focusing on what actually makes them different.”
“Democrats failed to make a compelling argument about why they should win,” she argued.
Quoting a joint statement from social justice groups, McMenamin said: “This should be a wake-up call for Democrats: Give people something to vote for or watch yourselves become the very thing they resoundingly vote against.”
Noting the recent Virginia governor’s race came down to roughly 70,000 votes, she said it was “too close to leave it to a cheap, tired campaign message.”
“This is all on top of Democrats’ favorite way to shoot themselves in the foot: Blaming the left while explicitly trying to tank their candidates and campaigns,” she wrote.
However, McMenamin argued, wherever Democrats “didn’t waste their time getting in the left’s way, the left — and a more inclusive future — won,” noting that candidates who ran on “explicitly progressive policy platforms” were most successful:
Michelle Wu became the first Asian-American, first person of color and first woman mayor of Boston; Shahana Hanif became the first Muslim woman elected to New York City Council; [and] Abdullah Hammoud was elected the first Arab American mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, the “Arab capital of North America.”
McMenamin concluded by warning against blaming progressives for the recent Democrat loss.
“[D]on’t let this loss be blamed on progressives pushing for too much,” she wrote. “The Democrats have no one to thank for their losses but themselves.”
McMenamin, a contributing politics editor at Teen Vogue, has a history of controversial statements.
In September, she falsely claimed that “U.S. border agents on horseback are whipping at Haitian asylum seekers carrying plastic bags of food and clothing.”
In August, she argued that mask mandates in schools “don’t infringe on students’ freedom,” whereas supposedly racist and sexist school dress codes do.
“[D]ress code punishments are some of the more obvious — and normalized — examples of gender discrimination in schools,” she wrote. “Dress codes are disproportionately applied to and enforced on students of color and women-identified students.”
“The right for students to present themselves how they choose is one worth fighting for and defending,” she added. “The right to get others sick is not.”
In March, after Arizona Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema thumbed-down a provision for an incremental raise towards a $15 minimum wage during the COVID-19 relief bill vote, McMenamin argued that while misogyny is “openly baked” into Republican politics, the Democratic Party doesn’t “actually practice” progressive feminist politics.
“Electing women is supposed to be the real achievement for feminism,” she wrote. “However, the women whose humanity the Democratic establishment seem to most care about preserving are privileged white women, which hardly differentiates them from their legislators across the aisle.”
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein