I recently spoke with Stony Brook College Republicans President Sara Adcock about her thoughts on the upcoming midterm elections.
Adcock optimistically proclaimed her prediction for the election outcomes. “I see already, a big push, and people trying to help towards that ‘red wave,’ and I think that we might really be seeing it this fall.”
As someone who tends to sway liberal in her beliefs, I was amused by Adcock’s use of the term “red wave.” I (incorrectly) thought it was ridiculous — New York is a blue state — and I brushed off her comment without a second thought.
I did not think about the conversation again until the morning of Oct. 23, when I read a Politico article revealing that Lee Zeldin — a Republican — has a solid chance at replacing Kathy Hochul, New York’s current Democratic governor. Upon reading this news, I realized that Adcock’s use of the phrase “red wave” was not some preposterous buzzword, but a fair reflection of the current state of New York politics.
Democrats make up 49.8% of registered voters in New York, while Republicans only make up 22.2%. Knowing these statistics, the “red wave” sounds implausible. However, there is evidently a quiet group of voters creeping over to the other party. This change comes not as a result of complete view shifts, but out of an increase in single-issue voting — when voters choose a candidate solely based on one stance or belief — in light of unprecedented rates of inflation.
It is this quiet shift that poses the largest threat to Democrats’ reign over New York politics and jeopardizes women’s rights in a state known for protecting them. Zeldin, for example, is notoriously known for voting for restrictions on abortion rights. Although Zeldin recently explained in an ad that he “will not change, and could not change New York’s abortion law,” his track record and actions suggest otherwise.
Zeldin voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which protects reproductive rights and makes abortion care accessible. He also told anti-abortion group New York Right to Life that he would support their efforts to get rid of the Reproductive Health Act, which “provides a fundamental right to choose contraception and the right of a female to determine the course of a pregnancy” and “decriminalizes abortion.” If Zeldin becomes the governor of New York, he could wage a war on reproductive rights.
Nevertheless, financial issues are voters’ top concern this election. New York, like the rest of the country, is suffering the financial repercussions of the pandemic. Inflation rates this month are nearly double what they were last year. Employment rates have increased in recent months, but New Yorkers are still feeling the strain of inflation, making promises of economic recovery inherently appealing. Zeldin’s plans to cut taxes and stimulate the economy come across as a glimmer of hope, adding to the GOP’s allure.
This “red wave” comes at a very unfortunate time for women. Voters must look beyond financial issues — the single issue that some voters are choosing to vote based on — and prioritize the protection of abortion rights.
With the way this election seems to be trending, it is unlikely that New Yorkers will come to their senses and vote in favor of women. The only thing that supporters of reproductive rights can do is brace themselves for the storm.
If Zeldin takes office and his policies directly infringe on abortion rights, we have to be prepared to fight — nonviolently, of course — not just for the right to choose, but the right for women to speak for themselves. We have to inform those who don’t understand the severity of this situation so that we never find ourselves in this position again.
The entirety of this Roe v. Wade disaster represents how little this country values the women who live in it. For New Yorkers who pride themselves on living in a state that supports women, Zeldin makes the realness of the digression and dismissal of women’s rights unignorable.