The Virginia election, COVID vaccines for children and other top columns – USA TODAY

From Youngkin’s victory in Virginia to botched abortions, discrimination, and defunding the police, here are some of our top opinion reads you may have missed.

In today’s fast-paced news environment, it can be hard to keep up. For your weekend reading, we offer you in-case-you-missed-it compilations of some of the week’s top USA TODAY Opinion pieces. As always, thanks for reading, and for your feedback.

— USA TODAY Opinion editors

1. My heart is for Glenn Youngkin. But my vote is for Terry McAuliffe as Virginia governor.

By David Mastio

“My head knows that Republicans are a threat to our democracy, without which we can’t fix our problems, but my heart understands that Democrats are making our problems worse. For now, Democrats have my vote, but pulling the lever for them breaks my heart.”

2. ‘It was time to fight back’: My journey from the Republican Party, through grief, to advocacy

By Rachel Vindman

“This period lasted for almost a year. Only in looking back at it now can I see how awful it was; we were going through the stages of grief and we could only speak to very close family and advisers. Thankfully we had each other, but the isolation took a heavy toll. A few weeks into my husband’s retirement in the summer of 2020, I heard about another journalist – one I have followed for a long time – whose life and family were being threatened. That was my moment. I remember where I was when I heard the story and I made the decision right there: I would no longer be silent.”

3. Virginia governor: Youngkin win shows voters will reward Trump’s dangerous Republican Party

By Jill Lawrence

“But the chief task before Democrats must be saving America from former President Donald Trump’s incendiary brand of corruption, lies and threats to democracy. And they aren’t instilling much confidence so far, in either Congress or Virginia.”

4. Elections in Virginia and New Jersey send Democrats a clear message – get the job done

By The Editorial Board

“Yes, local issues helped drive voters to the polls in both states. Virginians who elected Glenn Youngkin were animated in part by concerns over the teaching of critical race theory in schools (where, in fact, it isn’t on the curriculum). And New Jersey voters  languished in a state economy with high unemployment. But both contests played out against the backdrop of a national Democratic Party seemingly frozen and unable to govern at the national level. President Biden’s approval ratings began to slide in Virginia, New Jersey and across the country when he fumbled his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.”

5. Doctors must be honest with parents about unknown risks of COVID-19 emergency vaccine

By Dr. Vinay Prasad

“Emergency use authorization was granted in this age group on the basis of a pivotal trial that is ongoing but has a relatively small sample size (4,700 children). This sample size is too small to document new or known adverse side effects (called safety signals) that have been noted at other ages and at other doses. For instance, myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can reduce the heart’s ability to pump or beat correctly, occurs in about 1 per 5,000 cases of vaccinated boys ages 12-15. If myocarditis occurs in boys ages 5-11 at the same rate as in boys 12-15, a study of this size would not be able to document that. We are flying blind on a side effect that parents need to be informed about.”

6. How Zillow could skew housing prices – and push younger homebuyers out of the market

By Aron Solomon

“Amid the 2008 housing market crash, NPR’s “This American Life,” in conjunction with NPR News, produced a special episode explaining the housing crisis. Called “The Giant Pool of Money,” it has weathered the past 13 years remarkably well, standing as the foremost national artifact about the cause of the crash.”

7. I never discriminated against anyone. Still, I was fired: Former Black fire chief

By Kelvin Cochran 

“After a years-long legal battle, my freedom of speech was vindicated in 2017 – a win not just for me, but for all government employees who want to live and speak out their faith and still thrive in their career. Despite our differences of opinions, Americans share a history of tolerance and a belief that those differences should not disqualify anyone from pursuing the blessings America has to offer. However, that view is rapidly, radically changing.”

8. Tearing down Thomas Jefferson: Black leaders of past wouldn’t agree with removing statue

By Jonathan Zimmerman

“I hate to admit it, but it’s true: Donald Trump was right about the monuments. Not about monuments to Confederate traitors like Robert E. Lee, whom Trump labeled “a great general.” Nor was he correct in claiming that military bases named after Confederates were “part of a Great American heritage.”

9. Criminologist, ex-cop: We’re all for police reform. Minneapolis measure wouldn’t have done it

By Thaddeus L. Johnson and Natasha N. Johnson

“Like many reform initiatives, the referendum, frequently labeled a “defund the police” measure, was more symbolic than substantive. The proposal would not have eliminated the force. Instead, it would have removed decades-old language mandating minimum police staffing.

And while there is a need for mental health professionals and other service providers in public safety, police would still have carried the bulk of the workload, since an overwhelming number of police service calls don’t involve a mental health or substance use crisis.”

10. Virginia Republicans showed they’re the party of equality. And voters rewarded them for it.

By David Mastio

“In the aftermath of the apparent Republican sweep of top elected offices in Virginia, I’m reading a lot of takes on what this means for President Joe Biden, who won the state by 10 percentage points, and his rival, 2020 loser Donald Trump. But don’t read too much into it – Virginia has a record of booting the party in the White House from the governorship, regardless of the personalities in Washington or on the ballot.”

11. My great-grandmother died from an illegal abortion. Her story could be one you know soon.

By Carli Pierson 

“It was 1936 when my great-grandmother, Joyce Hubbard, found out she was pregnant again. She was 25.

Before the 1929 stock market crash, the Hubbard-Millar family from Clinton, Missouri, had been well-off cattle ranchers. But seven years later, they could barely feed their four kids and were experiencing homelessness. Joyce decided to have an abortion, which was illegal at the time.

12. Let’s help our brave children through this pandemic by getting them vaccinated, again

By Connie Schultz

“Nearly seven decades ago, polio was the most feared disease in our country because of its high infection rate among children.

Just in 1952, nearly 60,000 children were infected. Images of children in iron lungs keeping them alive terrorized parents, as did reports of the thousands who were paralyzed. More than 3,000 children died that year.”