There are many different philosophies and religions out there, but most of them hold as a central or important tenet that our lives should be judged by our ACTIONS – what we DO (or fail to do), as opposed to what we believe or whatever. For instance, as this rabbi explains about Judaism:
Yes, the Jewish ideal is right action coupled with right attitude and hopefully right belief. However, at the end of the day, we are measured, in this world and on high, by what we do, not merely what we believe.
Or take Hinduism, which believes:
“One fundamental principle of the religion is the idea that people’s actions and thoughts directly determine their current life and future lives.”
“One of the fundamental creeds of Islam is about the Day of Judgment. All humans who have lived on earth are accountable and answerable on that day for their beliefs and willful actions.”
This could go on all day, but you get the point: that in most major religions and moral codes, our lives are very much defined by the totality of our actions – the choices we make – for good or for ill. This year, for instance, we all faced the choice of whether or not to get involved in the fight for our democracy (against the forces of authoritarianism, Trumpism, etc.): whether to stay on the sidelines, or whether to actively work to undermine and/or destroy our democracy. The stakes were high and the choice was clear, so nobody can really claim ignorance. So what did the governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, CHOOSE to do? Let’s look at his actions, which speak louder than any words he might say to try to justify what he did.
Here’s a brief summary of what Youngkin did in 2022: went around Virginia and the country, working relentlessly to elect election deniers, extremists and enemies of our democracy such as Yesli Vega (“celebrated her July 4th with a notable insurrectionist who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021“), Jen Kiggans (wouldn’t say that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 elections, literally running away from a reporter who asked her!), Hung Cao (After the January 6th insurrection, Hung Cao defended violent insurrectionists saying “these are my people, set them free”) in Virginia; Paul LePage in Maine (“met eight times with members of the sovereign citizen movement between January and September 2013″); Tudor Dixon in Michigan (“in a May 2022 debate, when asked ‘do you believe Donald Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan?,’ Dixon responded ‘Yes.’”), Derek Schmidt in Kansas (“brought Kansas into an unsuccessful lawsuit after the 2020 presidential election seeking to overturn the results in battleground states as Trump and other Republicans spread baseless claims of widespread voter fraud”), Heidi Ganahl in Colorado ( “refuses to denounce John Eastman, former CU professor and author of the fraudulent legal memo used to justify the Jan 6 plot), Tim Michels in Wisconsin (said “that illegally decertifying the 2020 presidential election will be ‘on the table’ if he becomes governor, and wouldn’t say whether he would certify the 2024 election”); Kari Lake in Arizona (“repeatedly pushed the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen – even going further casting doubt on the 2022 elections“); etc. Sensing a pattern here?
So fortunately, the vast majority of the far-right extremists Youngkin campaigned for lost their elections (hopefully, that will include Kari Lake, who currently trails Democrat Katie Hobbs) – and thank goodness, or our democracy would be in truly grave danger. But that doesn’t even come close to absolving Glenn Youngkin of personal, moral and practical responsibility for doing everything he could to try and elect these anti-democracy extremists.
Now, sure, part of why Youngkin did this was out of cynical, calculated political ambition, namely his burning desire to be president (which is highly unlikely to ever happen), and his awareness that the only way to accomplish this goal is to win the nomination of a radicalized, Trumpist Republican Party. But the fact is, Youngkin COULD HAVE made another choice, such as the one Rep. Liz Cheney made, which was to stand on principle and specifically to stand up for American democracy, our constitution, our values and ideals.
In the end, disgracefully, Youngkin’s cynical, ambition-driven calculations led him to the course of action and conclusion that somehow it was worth throwing our democracy, constitution, etc. into the trash heap in order to advance his own political career. And yes, in its own way, Youngkin’s amoral, craven approach is even more appalling than if you actually BELIEVE the “Big Lie,” as the Amanda Chases of the world truly appear to do. But regardless of what he actually believes, the fact is that Youngkin relentlessly campaigning against our democracy in 2022 was a conscious CHOICE he made, even as he was strongly urged by Liz Cheney not to do so. And no, that choice should never be forgotten – or forgiven – EVER.