Tracy Compton, a mother of two in Fairfax, Virginia, had voted for Democrats for as long as she can remember, until the COVID-related school closures. “I tried and went to apply to work with the Democratic Party. I was told I was not allowed to become a member of the Democratic Party [in Fairfax].”
A recording of a reorganization meeting showed fellow Democrats deeming Compton too ‘anti-school’ to be part of their political efforts.
What made Compton anti-school? She wanted the public schools to fully reopen.
When Compton worked to collect signatures for a recall petition for the local school board, she was welcomed out of the rain by a Republican party tent, even after telling them she was a Biden voter.
In contrast, when Compton offered the petition to those inside the Democrat party tent, she was yelled at.
Now? Given a hypothetical matchup between Kamala Harris or President Joe Biden vs. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, she said she’d vote for the Republican in a heartbeat.
Compton lamented how she got here, now supporting a political party with whom she felt very little in common with until COVID hit.
She told me, “All the things that Biden and Kamala believe in; and what the Democratic Party believe in… I still believe in it. But I have to look at what’s happening in my family and with my children right now.”
Bethany Wagner (above with family) said the ‘schools issue’ proved to be a gateway into seeing the world through another set of eyes.
Wagner (above with children) went from a casual viewer of CNN and MSNBC to seeking out Fox News clips about the ‘schools issue’ on YouTube because they were the only ones covering it.
“They’re being hurt by not being able to be in school, and not in school normally. My focus has to be on making sure that they’re going to grow up and prosper and be the good citizens that they need to be.
“So that they can protect the environment. And they can go on to do all the things that are important to me… I’ve got to put my attention on the thing that’s yelling at me the most.”
She went on, describing how she’ll vote in the future, “Until [Democrats] can present someone that’s logical, I’m going to have to make choices. Right now, my choices are very much based on my children and my children getting an education.”
“If that can be solved, then I can worry about other things that are important to me, like gun control, the environment, and universal healthcare. I can’t do that until I know my kids are good.’
Compton isn’t alone, she’s part of an army of Virginia parents who swung the gubernatorial election towards the Republican Glenn Youngkin, who just took office this week.
Compton was active in her community’s efforts to open schools, as was her friend Bethany Wagner, a mother of two, also living in Fairfax.
For Wagner, the ‘schools issue’ proved to be a gateway into seeing the world through another set of eyes.
She realized early in the pandemic that it was conservative sites that were reporting on the impact of school closures and concerns she had over curriculum.
She went from a casual viewer of CNN and MSNBC to seeking out Fox News clips about the ‘schools issue’ on YouTube because they were the only ones covering it. Soon, she did the unthinkable: She just turned on Fox News itself. And she realized, “It’s not what CNN claims it to be.”
Neither women see themselves as Republicans, but for the time being, they will be voting for them. Compton and Wagner are just two names behind a widespread shift towards Republicans over the course of the last year.
Ashley (a pseudonym), a mother of three from Central New Jersey, fumed, “I hate when Democrats like Biden get all defensive and say that 95% of schools are open right now. They are being willfully ignorant and not paying attention that even though schools are ‘open’ they are NOT NORMAL.”
Gallup reported a remarkable shift in the way Americans identify themselves politically. Strikingly, the most pronounced shift away from Democratic party identification came in the third and fourth quarter of the year, coinciding with the fall as children returned to school.
- In the first quarter of 2021, 49% of U.S. considered themselves to be Democrats. By the third quarter of 2021, self-identified Democrat (and Democrat-leaning individuals) dropped to 42%.
- For Republicans it went in the opposite direction. 40% self-identified with the GOP at the start of 2021, and 47% put themselves in the Republican-camp at the end of the year.
- That’s a 14-percentage point swing from a nine-point Democratic advantage to a five-point GOP edge, and among the largest advantages the GOP has ever held in Gallup polling.
- Strikingly, the most pronounced shift away from Democratic party identification came in the third and fourth quarter of the year, coinciding with the fall as children returned to school.
Why might parents have snapped in the fall when their kids finally went back to school? Ashley (a pseudonym), a mother of three from Central New Jersey, fumed, “I hate when Democrats like Biden get all defensive and say that 95% of schools are open right now. They are being willfully ignorant and not paying attention that even though schools are ‘open’ they are NOT NORMAL.”
It’s a line that President Biden repeated at his two-hour White House press conference on January 19.
“It’s always going to be the top of the news,” Biden said of the ‘schools issue.’
“But let’s put it in perspective: 95 — as high as 98 percent of the schools in America are open, functioning, and capable doing the job.”
He’s not fooling parents like Ashley.
Kids are masked, have no field trips, no extracurriculars, no sports (our town canceled winter recreation sports just for kids but kept adult recreation programming). Not to mention the constant threat of closures when cases rise. School might be mostly ‘open’ but it is not normal. Democrats should be paying attention instead of gaslighting me and telling me everything is fine.’
Now we’re learning that Biden wants to increase masking for children – not reduce it.
President of the American Mask Manufacturer’s Association (AMMA) told Reuters that the White House is interested in creating a U.S. manufacturing base for protective masks for kids.
“We are ready to provide protective children’s masks for American families,'”said President Lloyd Armbrus. I’m sure they are. But do parents want them, and do kids really need them anymore?
It’s not only in K-12 schools where the situation is critical.
On parenting boards across the country parents of young children in daycares and preschools are at a breaking point.
After a huge spike in cases around the holidays, and with holidays and then weather-related closures, many of these centers have been closed more than they’ve been open so far in 2022.
A single case can lead to a closure of 10-14 days, and several of those means no routine or steady childcare for parents of small children.
On supply chain issues, Biden asserted much of the same. Everything is fine, don’t believe your lying eyes.
Biden claimed, “The share of goods in stock in stores is 89% now, which is barely below the 91% that prevailed pre-pandemic.”
It’s a fascinating strategy, telling Americans that everything is fine when they are keenly aware of the reality.
It’s a strategy that isn’t exactly paying off for the President, with his approval numbers sinking faster than the Titanic.
According to new poll numbers from Gallup, Biden’s approval rating is at just 40%, with 56% of respondents disapproving.
Alongside a shift away from the Democratic Party, there was a similar shift away from the President, with his support dipping in the fall of 2021.
Gallup explains, “In the latest survey, 40% of Americans approve and 56% disapprove of the job he is doing, as the U.S. is plagued by the highest inflation in four decades and another surge of COVID-19 cases, this time fueled by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.”
But it’s not just that.
Read the President’s meandering answer when he was asked if school closures would become a potent midterm issue for Republicans.
To get the full-flavor of this alternatively dismissive, halting, and incoherent answer – you really have to watch.
(Problems with sound)
Here’s some of it from the official White House transcript:
Reporter question: Could school reopenings or closures become a potent midterm issue for Republicans to win back the suburbs?
Biden: Oh, I think it could be, but I hope to God that they’re — that — look, maybe I’m kidding myself, but as time goes on, the voter who is just trying to figure out, as I said, how to take care of their family, put three squares on the table, stay safe, able to pay their mortgage or their rent… You know, every — every president, not necessarily in the first 12 months, but every president in the first couple of years — almost every president, excuse me, of the last presidents — at least four of them — have had polling numbers that are 44 percent favorable… I mean, the idea that — the American public are trying to sift their way through what’s real and what’s fake.’
You can see why struggling Democratic parents have snapped.
In contrast, Republicans in Congress are vocally advocating for children. “Children are paying one of the greatest costs of this pandemic, despite being the least at risk to COVID-19. It’s time for the Biden administration to prioritize children’s well-being above junk CDC science, political donors and teachers unions,” tweeted Washington Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers on January 20.
Ashley warned, ‘I’m about as lefty as they come. I campaigned for Elizabeth Warren in 2020, Bernie Sanders in 2016, and Ralph Nader in 2000. Most of my views on specific issues haven’t changed… Now I don’t know if I can vote for any of them unless they reckon with what they did, and continue to do, to kids during this pandemic.’
‘I would even accept an apology, a mea culpa, a reflection on what they failed to do, and an effort to make it right. But I’m not holding my breath.’
Judging from Biden’s performance at the White House an apology or more importantly a change of course – is not coming.13