The October 13 premiere of The Bachelorette season 16 was a lot of things: chaotic, hilarious, sexy (cc: Dale Moss). After night one of seeing 31+ pieces of eye candy parade across our screens trying to woo Bachelorette Clare Crawley with their inventive albeit cheesy entrances, getting into catfights over who’s there for “the right reasons,” and competing for their spot as the next Bachelor, Bach Nation fans may have a few questions about this season’s contestants. Like, who truly *is* there for the right reasons? Why did that one guy dress like Christian Bale in American Psycho? Was it as apparent to the rest of the men on night one that Dale was already going to win? Oh and also, who do these guys vote for?
If you’re perplexed by the last question, you really shouldn’t be. The United States is hurtling towards the November 3 presidential election, and this year’s is poised to be one of the most important in the country’s history. There’s a lot up for debate and a lot at stake depending on who’s elected, with many Americans feeling like they’re fighting for their rights. So what does that have to do with Bachelor Nation? As it turns out, quite a bit actually.
Bachelor Nation is growing more vocal about politics
In an election year like 2020, it’s almost impossible to separate politics from pretty much anything going on, so it’s no surprise that celebrities are speaking out by encouraging people to vote (and in the case of Michael B. Jordan’s sexy shirtless selfie, vote early), as well as revealing exactly which candidate they’re voting for in the upcoming election. And as we’ve learned, these comments by celebrities—whether it’s specifically endorsing Democratic nominee Joe Biden or Republican president Donald Trump or just encouraging fans to register to vote—have a massive impact on voter registration and engagement, especially with young voters. In 2018, country singer Taylor Swift came out and publicly supported the Democrats in the mid-term election, marking the first time the musician had spoken publicly about politics. Her post led to a spike in voter registration. And in September of this year, Kylie Jenner encouraged her 198 million Instagram followers to register to vote, sharing a link to Vote.org’s online tool on her Instagram along with a series of bikini photos, leading to a 1,500% increase in users over the previous day.
And with reality stars like those in the Bachelor franchise having ascended to actual celeb status (both Tyler Cameron and Mike Johnson have dated legit celebs, after all), it’s no surprise that Bachelor alum would similarly publicly endorse their chosen political parties—because they have fans who are actually looking to them for guidance on their own voting plans.
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While Bachelor alum have long hinted at their political leanings through comments and posts on social media before the most recent election ramped up, Bach Nation *really* started openly conversing about politics in June when The Bachelorette season 14 lead Becca Kufrin’s now-ex Garrett Yrigoyen posted in support of Blue Lives Matter, a countermovement to the Black Lives Matter protests in support of police.
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I’ve been pretty tore up the past week about everything going on. I’ve listened, learned, helped, supported, and grown. With so many friends and family in law enforcement I couldn’t sit back and not support them and the hundreds of thousands of men and women of all races that represent this Thin Blue Line as well. It’s important for me to recognize the ones who stand in the gap and put their lives on the line each and every single day for humans of different race and ethnicity, including those who hate them. The Thin Blue Line represents each officer protecting protestors, properties, and businesses while being threatened, attacked, shot, shot at, hit with vehicles, and other forms of brutality. There have been over 300 injured, shot, or killed in just one week. They are suffering the consequences over an act they didn’t commit. They continue to put in overtime away from their families, stay silent while being threatened, hated, and assaulted. We can’t judge an entire group of people by the actions of a few. We can’t judge the peaceful protesters by the actions of the few violent protesters, and we sure can’t judge all cops by the actions of a few bad ones. Remember when they put on the badge they’re still humans, with raw emotion, the more brutality they face the more on edge they become, they make mistakes, they have compassion, and no matter how terrible they are treated or whatever negative is said to them, they still show up for us when we need them! Remember these men and women who hold this Thin Blue Line; strangers, friends, family, neighbors, or your enemies. They will always be out there protecting us, no matter what! #thinblueline #antiracism #antibrutality
Yrigoyen has long been openly conservative, but for many online, the post came as a clear indicator (along with his several posts about hunting and gun ownership) that the Bach alum is Republican. On the other side of the aisle, Kufrin has posted about supporting Joe Biden and voting as a Democrat.
Since starting Date Card Podcast two years ago, Portland-based comedians Jenna Vesper and Danika McClure have been covering all things Bachelor, and that includes the franchise stars and their politics. While the pair say that they’ve covered obvious political affiliations in the past (like James Taylor from JoJo Fletcher’s season), Vesper says that during the most recent off-season, when filming of the franchise was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent that you really couldn’t just look away from this aspect of Bachelor Nation. “This is arguably the most important election of our lives, peoples lives literally depend on it,” Vesper says. “You add in the fact that there is no new Bachelor content to distract us because of a global pandemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of people, and it’s hard not to draw parallels between the fandom we like to dissect and what is happening around us.”
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And some of their political views and affiliations might surprise you
It’s Vesper and McClure’s dissecting of Bachelor Nation’s political views that’s led to *a lot* of interesting revelations. Because while some alums *are* vocal about their politics, others aren’t so much. Which is, of course, entirely their prerogative. But some of the political affiliations of your faves may surprise you. As Vesper and McClure pointed out on Instagram, a whole lot of people within the Bachelor franchise are Republican, including host Chris Harrison.
In addition to Harrison, users who dowloaded Joe Biden’s “Vote Joe” app were also able to find out that former leading man Peter Weber is *also* reportedly Republican. (And also a super voter, which is good, I guess). (Vesper and McClure found this out by searching through the contacts section. “Find one of your existing contacts that has the word ‘search’ next to their name,” Vesper says. “That means there isn’t enough information to find them. Click on that and clear the name out, then add the info you have for the person you’re searching. Name, age, and location.”)
And one look at the comments on Weber’s latest post about voting shows that regardless of whether or not he is Republican, people that vote for Trump do follow and love the former Bachelor, with tons of “Vote for Trump!” and “Trump 2020” comments littering the post.
And not only that, but several *other* Bachelor Nation faves (and a few relative nobodies) have been noted as potential Donald Trump supporters, with the Date Card Podcast hosts (who are truly doing the lord’s work) noting that several of the men from Crawley’s current season follow the 45th president and some of the people in his orbit on Instagram. And yes, these people are entitled to follow and vote for whomever they’d like, but let’s be honest—who these people follow says at least something about their beliefs. Which is problematic when the people they’re following are spreading misinformation. Take for instance the fact that beloved Grocery Store Joe (a.k.a. Joe Amabile) follows Candace Owens, while Lauren Lane (née Bushnell) follows Ben Shapiro, the latter of whom has said some incredibly problematic (not to mention medically inaccurate) things about women’s vaginas.
It should be made clear—and Vesper emphasizes—that no one knows with 100% certainty that Harrison or people like Hannah Ann Sluss (who follows Trump) have voted for the current president. “It is true that people can follow the president and not vote for him,” Vesper says. “But when you stack up the context clues for Harrison and add in the voting registration, it becomes pretty clear. ”
But, they’re being called out for it
Thankfully, many in Bachelor Nation, not to mention the people who report on it, are saying something when it comes to their faves’ political affiliations. Especially when said affiliations are harmful. Take for instance another problematic Garrett from the franchise, Garrett Powell. The golf pro from Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette started popping all up in Garrett Yrigoyen’s comments on Instagram mid-summer, touting pro-gun speech and telling Yrigoyen not to listen to the haters commenting on his posts. It was a social media presence that people might have been unhappy with, but could deal with for the time being. But then, Powell decided to come for the sweetest man in Bach nation, Mike Johnson. On October 5, and in response to the first presidential debate in which President Trump refused to denounce white supremacy, Johnson tweeted: “Woke up at 3:30am in a pool of sweat. I had a nightmare I was kidnapped by the Proud Boys and KKK. And worst was the leader of our country didn’t condemn them when he was directly asked during the debate last week. You don’t rock with me if you rock with him.”
Woke up at 3:30am in a pool of sweat. I had a nightmare I was kidnapped by the Proud Boys and KKK. And worst was that the leader of our country didn’t condemn them when he was directly asked during the debate last week. You don’t rock with me if you rock with him.
— Mike Johnson (@MikeJohnson1_) October 5, 2020
Which honestly seems like a fair statement. Johnson doesn’t want to associate with anyone who supports white supremacy—because why would *anyone* want to be affiliated with that, let alone support it themselves, right? In a series of now-deleted tweets, Powell came for the Bach Nation favourite, tweeting that Johnson—who competed on the same season as Powell and with whom he is reportedly friendly—should stop hounding people he “doesn’t rock with” to buy his book in the group chat, before stating that Trump *had* in fact denounced white supremacy during the debate. (FWIW, he did not). Johnson has a self-help book, entitled Making The Love You Want, and Powell was seemingly implying that Johnson was asking his friends to buy his book.
Not only is Powell just a shitty person for putting Johnson on blast for privately promoting his book (I, too, would hound every single person I know if I was publishing a book), but he’s also making quite clear that he supports Trump, a president who, instead of condemning white supremacy, told a far-right, white supremacist group to “stand back and stand by.” Take from that what you will.
Because it’s important to know where public people stand
So, what does all this mean and also, why does it even matter? Yes, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are just reality TV shows, but they also have a far-reaching audience and a large impact on pop culture and society. And whether we like it or not, these contestants, leads and even the host of the franchise, have an influence on their followers. (Why else do you think they all get hired to hawk Revolve clothing and “flat tummy” teas?) So knowing where they stand politically becomes a matter of public interest and adds context to what they post and encourage their followers to do. For Vesper, making Bach Nation fans aware of the stars’ political leanings is part of arming them with knowledge, so they can make their own informed decisions about who they choose to follow.
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“This is a trash show full of people doing trash things,” Vesper says. “But they are real people. And thus they matter. Their vote matters. And to us, it matters to know where they align.” Vesper points to the concept of conscious consumerism. “Following numbers are important to these people, and we think it’s important to expose this facet so that Bachelor Nation can make a conscious choice to follow or not,” she says.
Not to mention the fact that this *is* a big election. For all the support that Vesper and McClure do get from their followers and listeners, there are those who are less than happy with the political leanings of the podcast itself. “A lot of [the negative] comments focus around ‘why are you dragging someone for a difference of opinion?’” Vesper says. “And to that we say: We are not speaking on opinions. We are not talking about what pizza toppings you like versus what I like. We are talking about civil rights, human rights [and] our global warming future. So yes, we are dragging people for supporting policies that undermine those things.”
So search for your Bachelor faves—and while you’re at it, check out your favourite A-list celebs too.
FLARE has reached out to Chris Harrison, Peter Weber and Hannah Ann Sluss. The article will be updated with their responses.