Governor Youngkin’s victory had marked a sharp red dividing line in pandemic politics. Democrats were already aware of public dissatisfaction, especially among mothers of children, and were trying to juggle their commitment to a COVID security state with the “COVID Moms” who had enough. After letting teachers’ unions get away with shutting down schools, they tried to pivot to a reopening.
The pivot was sincere in that it was motivated by genuine political fear. Some of the union leadership seemed to try and get with the program. Randi Weingarten had a splashy profile claiming that the unions were the ones who always wanted to reopen schools.
(And Al Capone was a saint who was actually fighting corruption.)
But the unions doubled down again. They cried wolf some more and forced school closures by setting the triggers very low or demanding mental health days.
The teachers’ unions made it all too clear that they were having fun and weren’t going to stop.
State Democrats forced to choose between their political fortunes and some of their biggest backers decided that the only way to save their careers was by dismantling the COVID security state.
They knew better than to try and directly take on the unions. But with the state of emergency over, the unions would have little pretext for widespread school shutdowns.
Given a choice between two impossible demands, they chose to wave the white flag and move on.
Would they have done it if the teachers’ unions hadn’t been so greedy and abusive? Probably. But not as quickly and with the same degree of panic.