HBO host Bill Maher urged Democrats to not become complacent when it comes to the Virginia gubernatorial election, which, if the polls are any indication, could go to a GOP candidate for the first time in more than a decade, primarily because of how each candidate in the race is handling the issue of education.
The show's panel discussion began with Maher saying that Terry McAuliffe (D) "should walk away with" the win since President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election and McAuliffe previously served as the commonwealth's governor.
But, as Maher noted, the governor's race is "neck and neck," with Republican Glenn Youngkin becoming more and more popular among voters due to his stance on education, an issue Maher previously warned could doom Democrats.
"I said this months and months ago that the issue in coming elections is going to be what's going on in the schools," Maher said. "Parents vote and they don't like what's going in schools. They feel like they are losing control and this became the issue in this election."
"Trust me, this is going to be a huge barometer-kind of election because if Terry McAuliffe loses, people are gonna understand, 'Yes. Oh, that's right. It is going to be about that,'" Maher continued.
He then slammed McAuliffe for a comment he made during a Sept. 28 debate, when he said: "I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions. I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
Maher called the Democrat's remark an "applause line" for teachers, not parents.
"Just on a political level, f---ing- excuse me," Maher said.
The "Real Time" host later emphasized the need to "start defining what ‘critical race theory’ means because it means something to everybody when they hear it."
McAuliffe has previously said that critical race theory is a "racist dog whistle" and that is not taught in Virginia schools. He has also refused to define it when asked by reporters.
Panelist Caitlin Flanagan, a staff writer for The Atlantic, argued that the ideology of critical race theory can be taught to children but "what you cannot do" is "set school policy by the findings of critical race theory."
"You can't rewrite a curriculum because of it and you really cannot treat children in a way that you're pulling them out by race and giving them different messages," she said. "And that's what you cannot do. It's happening."
Maher responded by saying that he cannot get behind the controversial doctrine if it requires telling white children they are oppressors and telling black children they are oppressed.
"If that's what critical race theory means, if it means separating 5-year-olds by race and telling some you're oppressors and the others you're the oppressed and giving up on a colorblind society and resegregation and racism is the essence of America- then I'm out. I'm out on that," Maher said. "But I'm in on Toni Morrison, I'm in on acknowledging racism still persist."
Flanagan, a Democrat, also called McAuliffe a "hack politician" who is "siding with the teachers union" because "that's where his bread is buttered."
"He's a rich man who sent all his kids to private schools and he's never in his life had someone tell him 'We're gonna tell your 8-year-old child something you don't want her to know and we're going to keep her for seven hours to do it and you have no control over that,'" Flanagan said. "So it's a big issue and if he loses it, then Democrats are gonna lose. Learn! Run some progressive candidates, run some people who stand for progressive ideas!"