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Opinion: The Republican party is failing to engage Gen-Z voters

Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, galivants across an Iowa State Fair stage mumbling the lyrics of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” with a rictus grin across his face.
Such an exhibition is an attempt at a final grasp for the relatability of the Republican party to a young voter base. However, their efforts are falling short.
The 2022 midterm election cycle was a surprising win for Democrats, with the Biden administration having one of the four best midterms for the party controlling the White House in the last century. This victory would never have been possible without a key player—Generation Z voters.
Generation Z voted at a higher rate than both Millennials and Generation X during their first midterm election and had the highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades. They also overwhelmingly voted Democrat in margins that have never been seen previously.
The fact of the matter is clear: to win elections, candidates have to win votes from Gen-Z.
Winning these voters over is no small feat. Top issues for Gen-Z voters differentiate vastly from older generations with their most significant concerns being common sense gun laws, women’s reproductive rights and the climate crisis.
This is where the modern Republican party has fallen short.
Generation Z has watched as the Republican party has not only opposed their hot-button issues but, in many cases, denied their existence.
This is most apparent in Republican presidential candidates’ stances on abortion bans in a post-Dobbs America. When asked at the first 2023 Republican presidential candidate debate, all candidates claimed to be pro-life, but few could answer where they would stand on a national ban on abortion and at what point the pregnancy would become too late to terminate. Their inability to take a firm stance destroys their chances of winning a Gen-Z vote with whom 72% believe that abortion should remain legal.
Gen-Z is a generation tainted by higher rates of school gun violence, making gun control an issue topping their list. However, NRA sellouts like Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott would rather have the blood of children on their hands than lose campaign donations from pro-gun lobbying groups.
The most infuriating Republican talking point amid the current political atmosphere is the denial of manmade climate change.
During last month’s first Republican primary debate, candidates were given the question from a moderator: “With a show of hands, who believes that human behavior is causing climate change?” Not a single candidate raised their hand.
Not only did these candidates deny the existence of man-made climate change, they proceeded to fight over who was better at spreading their misinformation.
Ramaswamy even went as far as to say, “the climate change agenda is a hoax.”
While the Republican party is very obviously failing Gen-Z voters, the Democratic party isn’t necessarily supporting them.
Of the issues mentioned above, the Democratic party has done very little in recent years to stir the pot and create substantial legislation on gun control or climate change, even when they held a majority in Congress and gained the presidency. It seems that Gen-Z voters are choosing the lesser of two evils rather than a party that fully supports their concerns.
The reality is that no matter how many TikToks Ramaswamy makes with Jake Paul or cringe-worthy memes Ron DeSantis posts to Twitter, they will never be able to win Gen-Z over with their decades-old Republican talking points.
Gen-Z voters will decide the 2024 Presidential election, and it is time for Republican politicians to adjust their rhetoric accordingly.

 

This story was originally published on Hayes Talisman on September 28, 2023.

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