Glenn Youngkin, the governor-elect in Virginia who won a surprising victory Tuesday night, is, in many ways, a younger version of Mitt Romney. They both got Harvard MBAs and they both made fortunes in the financial world. They both have older male model good looks. They both are happily married with lots of kids. On policy, they probably agree on 98 percent of the issues. Youngkin is not, of course, LDS, but he is very open about his Christian religion.
But Glenn Youngkin is a much better politician. He understands that to be elected you need to build a large base of supporters, but you never should virtue signal to the left. The left will always hate you and other non-woke politicians. The left will happily use you (as they have used Mitt Romney for several years now, apparently without his ever catching on), but they will always hate you.
Mitt Romney allowed himself to be used viciously by the left during the Trump years. His naivete was obscene to watch, and it ended up with him getting booed at the state Republican convention in Utah.
Here is the thing that Mitt Romney never realized: he has absolutely nothing to gain by endlessly criticizing Trump. Trump acts like a petulant child, but he is beloved by 40-plus percent of the electorate. There are thousands of people in my semi-rural area of Colorado who STILL have Trump flags and signs on their houses today, a year after the 2020 election. Why would you trigger these people if you want to create a political coalition?
And, let’s be frank: the WORST way to deal with a petulant child is to become petulant and self-righteous, which is Mitt Romney’s default position.
Youngkin, by contrast, was endorsed by Trump but turned down Trump campaigning in Virginia. He was able to increase turnout in the conservative, rural areas of Virginia (areas filled with Trump supporters) and also to increase turnout in the suburban areas where Trump was unpopular. Youngkin successfully walked the Trump tightrope by not embracing the former president but also not criticizing him.
Note to Mitt: this is called building a POLITICAL BIG TENT. Ronald Reagan used to say that the 11th commandment was for a Republican never to criticize a fellow Republican. Focus your criticism on the real enemy, ie the other large political party and specifically the evil leftists in that political party.
Let’s remember that Mitt Romney lost the presidency in part because he was considered an unprincipled flip-flopper. And here is where Romney has stood historically on Trump: Mitt Romney sought Trump’s endorsement in 2012, and bragged about it when he got an endorsement. Then Mitt came out against Trump in 2016, and then went begging for a Cabinet position in 2017 (see photo above), then sought Trump’s endorsement when he ran for the Senate in 2018 (which Trump graciously gave), and then Mitt repudiated Trump in 2019 and ultimately voted for impeachment in 2020 and 2021. No reasonable person can look at this record and see a consistent policy of integrity on Mitt’s part. Unprincipled flip-flopper? Yes indeed.
I am sincere when I say that Mitt should look at how Youngkin handled the Trump issue and learn from it. Whether Mitt decides to run for reelection or not, people should always take in new knowledge. Youngkin’s success may help Mitt understand better why he lost in 2008 and 2012. A bit of humility is always a good thing.