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People Are Saying This Guy ‘Single-Handedly’ Won Virginia for the GOP

Anti-“critical race theory” activist Christopher Rufo has been taking a victory lap following Democrats’ devastating election losses this week.

SO WHAT

Has Rufo handed the GOP a powerful new political weapon?

THE FANFARE

Conservative luminaries have credited Rufo, a 37-year-old writer and researcher at the Manhattan Institute, with laying the groundwork for Tuesday’s Democratic defeats, from Seattle to Virginia.

Tucker Carlson introduced Rufo on his Fox News talk show Thursday as having started a national conversation about critical race theory, or “CRT.”

“Thank you very much for what you’ve done,” Carlson told Rufo.

  • What did Rufo do?: “I’ve shown through original-source-document reporting that critical race theory is absolutely taught in dozens of schools,” Rufo said, citing one of his recent revelations, that elementary schools’ were teaching a picture book that portrays whiteness as a pact with Satan.
  • What is CRT?: “If you look at the academic literature of critical race theory, the idea is to break down whiteness — so removing people’s white privilege, putting them into a stance of humiliation and defeat and concession in order to redistribute wealth and property along racial lines,” according to Rufo, who has suggested the academic concept informed the left’s racial ideology.
  • What happened Tuesday?: “Average people rose up. They have nothing to lose. They want to protect their kids,” Rufo said. “God bless all of the parents and activists in Virginia who made this happen and tell people once and for all, critical race theory has no place in our schools, no place in our public institutions.”

Rufo has been the toast of the populist right on Twitter, too, particularly thanks to Republicans’ shock takeover of the Virginia governor’s mansion.

  • Megyn Kelly, a former Fox News anchor turned podcaster, said to Rufo Tuesday, when it became clear Republican Glenn Youngkin would be Virginia’s next governor, “You’ve been so crucial to [CRT’s] exposure and parents everywhere owe you a debt of gratitude!”
  • Ben Shapiro, the founding editor of the Daily Wire, congratulated Rufo Wednesday for doing “the journalism the media wouldn’t do in VA.”
  • Sohrab Ahmari, an editor at The American Conservative and a leader of the “new right,” offered “KUDOS Wednesday to my friend,” Rufo, “who first exposed the cancerous spread of CRT — and then formulated a strategy to counter it.”
  • J.D. Vance, the “Hillbilly Elegy” author turned GOP Senate candidate in Ohio, said Thursday “let me add my voice to the pro-[Rufo] chorus. A great guy who transformed the debate over the last couple of years. A testament against defeatism!”

Winsome Sears, Virginia’s lieutenant governor-elect and an instant conservative  hero, in a Twitter exchange with Rufo Wednesday, crowned him “the based King.”

Richard Hanania, a political scientist and critic of wokeness, tweeted at Rufo, “You’re the most important conservative activist in the country since who? Phyllis Schlafly maybe?”

  • Glenn Greenwald, a dissident leftist reporter, added, “Rare to see a new activist campaign, spearheaded largely by one person, come to fruition so quickly.”

THE PEANUT GALLERY

Mainstream liberal commentators have also seen Rufo’s hand behind Democrats’ election losses, but not in a good way.

  • Nicole Wallace, an MSNBC host, said on air as the Virginia results came in Tuesday that “critical race theory, which isn’t real, turned the suburbs 15 points to the Trump-insurrection endorsed Republican” — and many of her colleagues declared GOP candidates and voters racists.
  • Noah Smith, a former Bloomberg Opinion columnist, tweeted Tuesday of the election, “This was the Chris Rufo Election. Chris Rufo-ism was what won this election. What are Dems doing — heck, what are progressive activists doing — to make sure that 2022 is not the Second Chris Rufo Election?”
  • David Weigel, a Washington Post national correspondent, said in a thread Wednesday, “You don’t have to like Chris Rufo to appreciate that he explained this: Conservatives are on the lookout for crazy-sounding education proposals and seminars and will call them ‘critical race theory.'”

OK, BUT

While exit polling has indicated opposition to CRT indeed motivated voters in Virginia, some analysts have questioned the extent of the issue’s electoral influence.

  • The skeptics have instead pointed to public dissatisfaction with Joe Biden’s presidency and the economy and to the cyclical nature of American politics.
  • Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics’ senior elections analyst, told the New Yorker Tuesday night: “If we had seen a massive swing in Loudoun County, which was ground zero for the critical-race-theory issue, that would suggest the Republicans have an issue they can latch on to and use to really pound the Democrats in the midterms. But, for now, it looks like if Republicans are going to win, it will be by virtue of not being in power, rather than having some agenda the public is lining up behind.”

Rufo, meanwhile, has continued to rally his more than 260,000 Twitter followers against the powers that be.

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