Earlier this week, the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) released a series of campaign ads for specific Republican Governor's races in the country. Modeled after the TLC Reality Show Say Yes To the Dress, the ads open with a young woman trying on a wedding dress named after one of the six GOP gubernatorial candidates running in targeted states. The young woman loves the GOP candidate named dress but her mother is pushing for the old fashioned dress which is supposed to be named after the the opposing Democratic candidate. The ad was part of a series of ads to woo younger women voters and appear "cultural relevant" says CRNC President Alex Smith. Really, they are just tone deaf and sexist.
The campaign ad named "Say Yes to the Candidate" assumes that all young women care about are wedding dresses and getting married. While many young women are still unmarried, that's a rather broad assumption. I'm a recently married young woman, (as are many of my friends and colleagues) while getting married for me was a joyous occasion, certainly my voting preferences and that of many young women cannot be reduced to what is the latest style of a wedding dress. Secondly, there are many young women who are not married and have no plans to get married (shocker) how would this ad resonate with them?
Simple researching and targeting would have painted a very different picture for anyone looking to write ads to appeal to younger voters. A Pew research center survey spells out just how much 18- to 34-year-olds have had to adjust from the Great Recession that started in 2008 and lingers. Almost half of us have taken a job just to pay the bills; almost a quarter of us have worked without pay to get experience; and more than a third of us have gone back to school because they couldn't find employment. And, almost one-third say they've delayed marriage or a baby because of the weak economy, so how does a campaign ad modeled on a reality show shot at very expensive wedding boutiques make sense in the lives of most young women today?
Today a generation of young women, worry about pay equity in an already rough economy, they find out their male colleagues will get paid more than they do for the same work. But the GOP has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act just as early as this summer. In order to postpone the baby, some young women are not ready to support economically they take birth control. But the GOP has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (over 54 times) that contains full cost coverage of birth control and even restrict further access to abortion in many state legislatures across the country. In this economy, young people today are crippled by the ever-increasing student loan debt from college that has grown over the years. But Republicans refuse to get behind legislation that would ease the interest rate on student loans whereas Democrats have actively proposed legislation like the Warren bill that if passed would help refinance student loan interest rates at a lower level.
To be sure, I know that there are young women in this country who watch TLC's Say Yes To the Dress, after all it's a popular show with many folks and I can see what prompted the CRNC to consider it. But given that we have a generation of women who dominate movie theaters with their attendance and according to research from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) prefers movies with that are splashy action flicks with"female superheores" like the Hunger Games series. This research translates to younger women's viewing habits on TV where they contribute to the high ratings of such shows like ABC's Scandal, 'Greys Anatomy', 'Revenge' featuring a diverse cast of empowered women or fantasy flicks like HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' where the most popular character is young Daenerys who is a walk through fire, dragon wielding, powerful woman claimant to a throne. One of these shows could have been a model for a campaign ad targeted to young women. However to insinuate that the only way young women can understand federal debt "$2 billion in taxes, $3.6 billion in debt, and 15 percent tuition increases" which are represented, by the old fashioned veil, sash, and necklace screams of such condescension of the abilities of the female brain to understand politics it's not to be believed.
You'd think with the report the CRNC released last year where they even acknowledge their party's brand has suffered with young people over the last decade, the CRNC would lead the way in pushing the boundaries for the GOP to enter the 21st century, heck the latter half of the 20th century. The report revealed independent young voters turned away from Republicans in elections due to among many things being : "closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned". Sounds like they forgot to add "sexist" to the list, because the GOP is still not getting it.
Atima Omara is the first African-American and fifth woman to be President of the Young Democrats of America. The nation's largest partisan youth organization representing young people ages 18-36 years old.