The “red wave” that never was is in part thanks to Gen Z voters, who turned out in record numbers in the midterms and voted overwhelmingly Democrat. The Gen Z results are devastating and cost Republicans several key races, but they aren’t surprising considering Republican leadership had no strategy to win over young voters. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer, and the Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel willfully neglected Gen Z.
What is most upsetting about the Democrats’ triumph — with youths preferring that party over Republicans by a whopping 28-point margin, according to exit polls — is that unique from most cycles, Republicans had one important advantage with young, particularly college-aged, voters: Democrats had spent the last two years uniquely torturing Gen Z with ineffective and abusive Covid policies.
Unfortunately, neither McConnell nor McCarthy did anything to capitalize on the incredible circumstances. They had zero plan for recruiting Gen Z voters, opting essentially to hand 10 percent of eligible voters to Democrats, which the left took full advantage of.
In the lead-up to the midterms, Democrats did weekly college campus door-knocking events at dorms and apartments. Democrat candidates visited and spoke to students. Democrat grassroots organizations publicized mail-in-balloting (which is very attractive to the convenience-driven generation). Most importantly, savvy leftist consultant groups taught Democrat candidates how to effectively campaign to young voters via social media and particularly TikTok.
This election cycle was a lost opportunity for Republicans who had a chance to remind young voters that Democrats violated their bodily autonomy and mentally enslaved them for two years. Covid posed virtually no threat to young people. Yet Democrat leaders pressured left-wing university bureaucrats into forcing healthy students to take experimental Covid shots that were not only ineffectual but caused now-verified cases of vaccine injuries, such as heart issues and irregular menstrual cycles.
Students who did not comply with the Covid shot mandates were punished in a whole host of ways, including campus officials disabling their university WiFi, barring them from campus, restricting them from attending in-person learning, and preventing them from registering for classes. Some were even expelled.
For over a year, leftist administrations defrauded students of their tuition dollars by subjecting them to inferior remote learning. When classes finally resumed in person, colleges required students to wear masks, which continued even when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted they were utterly useless.
Even worse, as University of Chicago student Declan Hurley wrote last year, “In addition to being epidemiologically indefensible, this policy is cruel to deaf and hard-of-hearing students like me” because it “[bars] us from reading people’s lips, muffling people’s voices, and inhibiting effective communication.”
Universities shuttered campus indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, which was not only detrimental to students’ mental and physical health but also anti-science, since being fit is a crucial safeguard against the worst Covid outcomes for those with comorbidities.
Some schools, like the one I attended, forced students to sign documents pledging to follow anti-science Covid mandates. My school’s “Required COVID-19 Attestation” forced students into mental submission as well, making students “agree” to claims such as, “COVID-19 poses a serious public health risk” and “my failure to follow the [COVID-19] requirements,” like wearing a cloth over my mouth, “may endanger myself and/or others.”
Schools were caught targeting and surveilling unvaccinated students, and some institutions are accused of installing security cameras in the hallways aimed at residents’ doors to make sure students weren’t visiting one another.
Perhaps most disturbing was the universities’ anonymous Covid-19 violation reporting systems, where students were encouraged to turn in their peers to university authorities for doing things like standing closer than six feet apart or wearing a mask improperly. Covid violation punishments could be as severe as putting students’ class registrations on hold, kicking them out of student housing, and even suspending or expelling them.
While it is true that most college students were compliant with the Covid mandates, that doesn’t mean they liked them. Many young adults figured out quickly that Covid posed no real threat to them. They knew Covid wasn’t dangerous when they tested positive with mild symptoms. They dutifully showed up to class with their masks on but knew it was all for show because they took their masks off for weekend frat parties. They realized the “vaccines” were worthless once they got Covid after their first jab. They also knew the mandates were unjustified and unethical and that lockdowns in particular caused them to suffer from increased rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Even when they were back in person, social interactions were policed and limited.
How did universities get young people to comply, then? The answer is fear (and not fear of the virus). As UChicago sophomore Eden Negussie said in 2020, “The hysteria around COVID restrictions has bred an environment of such extreme judgment and fear that we cannot even function as normal human beings without being on edge.”
Standing up against Covid tyranny meant social and professional consequences. It meant you could be labeled a “grandma killer” or a “fascist.” It could damage your reputation or cause you to lose friends or student housing. You may even lose an internship or job opportunity. Understandably, students submitted instead of gambling their careers before they’d even started.
Just because students were coerced into compliance doesn’t mean they enjoyed colleges’ mandates. The GOP leaders could have formulated a plan to emphasize how Republican governors from conservative states were able to stop university vaccine mandates and point out how students from liberal states were less fortunate. They could have reminded students of how miserable they were during lockdowns and brought out the incriminating vaccine and mask data that proves Democrat-fueled mandates were not only pointless but harmful.
They could have exposed the lies, corruption, and hypocrisy of the politicians and government health bureaucrats who came up with the authoritarian Covid policies. They could have promised to launch investigations that would bring justice to people like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci. They could have assured students that what Democrats did to them over the last two years was un-American and unethical and that Republicans plan never to let it happen again.
Republicans might not have had a chance at winning Gen Z, but they certainly had a chance at tightening the unprecedented gap by which Democrats won them over. Covid is one of many issues Republicans could have run on (unsustainable grocery, gas, and heating bills are undoubtedly another issue they should have emphasized more to young voters).
Unfortunately, Republican leaders decided to do absolutely nothing. They handed Gen Z to Democrats on a silver platter. Perhaps a misguided Gen Z strategy could have been forgivable, but no strategy is inexcusable — and yet another indication that the old-guard GOP leadership needs to go.
Evita Duffy is a staff writer to The Federalist and the co-founder of the Chicago Thinker. She loves the Midwest, lumberjack sports, writing, and her family. Follow her on Twitter at @evitaduffy_1 or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
8 total views, 2 views today