Twitter Thinks Mike Pence Gaslit Voters During The Debate And They’re Right

The Oct. 4 vice presidential debate was more barroom brawl than a statesmanlike exchange of ideas, but both during and following the event, Twitter was rampant with charges that Pence was gaslighting voters regarding ticket-mate Donald Trump’s record. And you know what? Twitter was right.

Gaslighting, a term originating from the 1938 play Gas Light, is a form of emotional abuse wherein the abuser manipulates the victim into doubting their own sanity, most often seen in abusive relationships. The charges that Pence engaged in gaslighting during the debate stemmed directly from his repeated attempts to claim that Trump hadn’t said things he’s on the record as having said.

As the various fact-checks have and continue to arbitrate the statements and cross-talk from the two candidates, much of the damage may already be done. Pence’s willingness to convince voters that Trump’s most offensive statements are not only not Trump’s statements, but even worse, are products of an “insult-driven” political campaign — referring to the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — made his gaslighting all the more sinister. As if the Trump-Pence campaign was reaching for Kafka-esque levels of absurdity, as Pence was making this claim during the debate, Trump tweeted out an insult about Kaine’s appearance.

As the post-debate analysis continued to churn, it’s unclear if the GOP VP nominee will pay a price for his gaslighting technique — early polls and analyses already have named Pence winner.