The consequences of the Republican Virginia win have started pouring in, as the newly elected governor Glenn Youngkin signed eleven executive orders on controversial matters right after assuming office.
Just like he campaigned, he mobilized education bureaucracy right after coming to office, which is likely to ban the Critical Race Theory (CRT), as he specifically mentioned the subject matter in his executive order.
Glenn Youngkin Mask Policy: Making Educational Decisions Controversial After Coming to Office
The far greater threat is his mask and vaccine policy, as he has also directed removal of the mask mandate for schools statewide at a time when data is showing that hospitalization among children is increasing due to the omicron variant.
The even greater threat is that he can go toward the authoritarian style of power in denying the compulsion of masks in Virginia schools, as an executive order does not bring school boards under any legal jurisdiction of accepting those orders.
Thus, many school boards have refused to accept Youngkin’s demands of leaving the choice of the mask to the parents, which is likely to encourage the governor to use his all-out powers, which he already indicated he would do in his campaign.
Despite being a not-so-experienced politician, Youngkin played a double game in winning the Virginia off-year elections.
He mobilized Trump’s supporters to their core by questioning the election integrity and vote transparency claims; however, he often tried to distance himself from Donald Trump. The purpose was obvious, i.e., to win votes from all segments of the Republican party.
But now, once he is in the office, he is showing the true colors of Trumpism, the prominent example of which is his audacity to wrap up the school mask mandate. As many school districts refused to bow in front of the governor, his executive order will face legal challenges ahead.
Schools in counties that house almost seven million of the state’s population have announced a rebellion against the governor’s orders.
Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin Walking Florida Governor Path to Practice Autocracy
Glenn Youngkin seems to be the big fan of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is already perpetuating Trump’s ideology in his state.
DeSantis warned that schools that will not comply with his orders of not mandating masks would face a funding cut. And Youngkin has already suggested that he would go to any lengths to empower parents in deciding whether or not their children would wear masks.
He pledged to utilize every resource available at his disposal to do it and is expected to move this route soon.
For the time being, Youngkin is painting school districts officials as power-mad bureaucrats who want to have more authority on their side. But by all laws of the state, school districts are empowered enough to reject Youngkin’s mandate.
On the other hand, Youngkin’s ambitions seem to go the autocratic route.
The current law of Virginia, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the former governor, mandated school districts to follow guidelines for children that are recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And as the CDC recommends masks for school-going kids, school districts have incentives to drag the incumbent governor’s executive order in the court.
Not following Trump’s ideology and going on a relatively moderate route was one of the campaign promises of Glenn Youngkin.
If he sticks with this narrative, one of his approaches could be similar to that of the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, who did not force any school district to accept or deny the mask mandate but left this question to local leaders.
If Youngkin adopts this strategy in Virginia, he can also leave the decision to the school boards to do the same. But by now, he seems to be more of a DeSantis than Hogan, and if he continues to do this, his many executive orders could be challenged in various courts.