We’re more than a few weeks out from the 2022 midterm elections, and there has been considerable commentary and various reasons offered about why the results turned out the way they did. For all the talk of the “massive red wave” that was supposed to arrive with the force of a hurricane, what we witnessed was a red drizzle.
The surprising result prompted shell-shocked Republicans to immediately create a circling firing squad, levying blame at various individuals — in particular, former President Trump. The blame game is still taking place among many GOP factions, and the ongoing fragmentation is an interesting spectacle to watch.
Interestingly, but not entirely surprising, right-wing media have increasingly zeroed in on two groups of voters who they see as being part of their problems — young voters and single women. Gen Z, the age demographic that includes voters under 30, and unmarried women have garnered considerable ire among numerous conservative outlets for their overwhelming support of Democratic candidates in the midterm elections.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University estimated that young voters between 18 and 29 voted for Democrats over Republicans in House races by 28 points. Around 27 percent of the demographic voted in the midterms, down from 2018’s 31 percent, but the second highest percentage in the last decade. The poll also found that 72 percent of young women between 18 and 29 voted for Democratic House candidates.
Incredibly, some far-right pundits and conservative media outlets have suggested raising the voting age and possibly prohibiting unmarried women from voting, arguing these groups are being misguided by Democrats.
Media Matters, a progressive fact-checking outlet, cited the following examples: Fox News host Jesse Watters dismissed young voters as “totally brainwashed,” and claimed, “Once women get married, they vote Republican.”
Anti-Muslim extremist Brigitte Gabriel wrote on Twitter that we should “raise the voting age to 21,” and that “Generation Z is destroying the country at the ballot box.”
Conservative outlet RedState published a piece titled, “Don’t Blame Gen Z for Voting Democrat, Blame the People Who Told Them To.” The piece argued that “many of them don’t know any better. Their entire perspective on politics comes from people like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and whatever TikTok influencer they decided to start getting their information from.” The piece goes on to urge parents to “investigate your kid’s schools,” and encourage politicians to defund state universities “that preach anti-American values.”
Conservative propagandist and election denier Dinesh D’Souza argued that young people voted overwhelmingly for Democrats because college students are misinformed about conservatism. As a result, when that view is “challenged later, their minds are so hardened, so set, that they’re not even really listening.” D’Souza also said that uncertain economic futures partially created by large student loans push young voters toward “socialism” because it means “somebody else is going to foot the bill.”
Blaze TV host Steve Deace pushed the idea that Democrats have a “demonic agenda” that “survived the election because young unmarried women want to kill babies whenever they want.”
Appearing on “The Ingraham Angle,” Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo claimed young people voted for Democrats because they were offered “drugs, recreational drugs, abortion, [and] paid off student loans.”
The Telegram account for far-right social media network Gab called these voters “unmarried childless whores of Babylon” who want to “continue to slaughter their children.” It later called unmarried women “a civilizational threat.”
There were numerous other outlandish assertions that aren’t worth repeating. Actually, those weren’t either.
The fact is by attempting to pacify their audience with a barrage of nonsensical propaganda, the right-wing segment of the Republican Party gives further credence to their critics that they are disingenuous provocateurs who will engage in any sort of behavior, no matter how blatantly dishonest or reductive, in an effort to maintain power and control over their many racist, sexist, xenophobic, paranoid and misguided followers.
Such manipulative gaslighting is nothing short of abominable.
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.