Dong Fang via Wikimedia Commons

School choice, abortion, critical race theory, education reform — all put on the backburner as Youngkin pushes for $1 billion in tax relief.

So we finally shot down the Chinese spy satellite weather balloon. Interestingly enough, the Biden administration knew about the balloon and was prepared to let it go so as not to interrupt Secretary Blinken’s trip to China.

Unfortunately for the White House, the good citizens of Montana spotted it first and took it straight to the press, where an incensed public was seen to force the Biden administration’s hand.

Then there’s the flip side of the coin, where the convenience of a diplomatic row with China just before (1) the US announced the opening of four new military bases in the Philippines and the eve of a major Russian offensive in the Ukraine is perhaps notable. Signs and wonders. . .

Meanwhile in Richmond, sources are reporting off-record that the Youngkin administration staff have been and are quietly putting down both the 15-week abortion limit as well as Lt. Governor Sears’ marquee legislation on school choice (HB 1508) in committee.

School choice reform has been widely successful in the states where it has been tried, most notably Florida, Utah, and New Hampshire. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush took to the Wall Street Journal this weekend praising ESAs as a tool to broaden the tools necessary for a 21st century workforce — citing broad support among Americans according to Pew Research:

The pandemic accelerated that by shining a light on deficiencies in our education systems. A February 2022 Real Clear Opinion Research poll found that more than 72% of parents supported school choice, including 68% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans and 67% of independents.

. . .

Today, the U.S. economy is far more advanced, and new options for education abound. So rather than accepting an education system designed to teach to the average, parents are rightfully demanding a system that is individualized and empowers each student to achieve his full potential.

HB 1508 is expected to die a quiet death in committee on Monday.

The 15-week limit on abortion — hardly a ban and hardly a pro-life bill — has already met its demise at the hands of State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) who will be voting against the bill.

Despite these disappointments, Youngkin continues to reserve his political capital in preparation for a major fight with Senate Democrats on his budget which promises $1 billion in tax relief for Virginia businesses.

With Youngkin enjoying an approval rating of 56% and his eyes toward national office, Youngkin is fighting the battles he believes he can win.

More interestingly for the rest of us, such battles answer the question as to what Youngkin truly believes at core. Yet perhaps more wisely, they answer the question as to what his advisors believe can be practically accomplished in 2023 with this General Assembly.

Want better results? Pick better tools in November and give Youngkin a chance to show us what he really believes. Otherwise, politics remains the art of the possible — not the charging of windmills.

. . .though school choice is and remains an super easy layup where the Governor’s Office could have expended an nth amount of energy convincing four wayward votes.

Still time, too.

Making Patriots by Walter Berns
There’s a certain genre of book in which I am consistently interested, that being any book examining the American political environment between the Bush-Gore 2000 election and September 11th, 2001. If you can find them, the discussion about preserving the political in the face of ideologies enjoyed this brief eight-month renaissance where the shock of the Florida recount (HINT: Bush won) bumped against the need to divide the world into us and them. Berns writes on the purpose of an education and the need for a good politics in order to cultivate patriotism — the good sort. Why is it that self-interested individuals sacrifice themselves for abstractions such as democracy, patriotism, nationalism, etc? Berns attempts to address this question in a marvelous (and short) book well worth reading.

Rebel Brass: The Confederate Command System by Frank E. Vandiver
How did an agrarian and disorganized South consisting of 9 million souls fend off an industrialized and federalized North consisting of 27 million souls for five years? Vandiver explains how the very same supply nodes and routes that kept the South functioning in peacetime — the Mississippi River, railroads, and ports — also acted as the same pathways the Federals would use as they marched through Georgia and Virginia while isolating Southern port cities such as New Orleans and Wilmington. Fascinating read if logistics is your thing.