In an election year unlike any this country has faced before, the face political activism has been completely transformed by the ongoing pandemic.
Leading the charge in reinventing how officials engage with their constituents is U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who recently entered the world of Twitch streaming in order to encourage voting among a younger, traditionally more apathetic audience.
Streaming to nearly 439,000 concurrent viewers alongside fellow U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and several popular Twitch streamers, AOC’s inaugural stream quickly became the third-most viewed in the platform’s history, behind only a collaboration of Ninja and Drake.
Rather than holding a rally during a pandemic, AOC engaged young voters in an environment where they felt comfortable, playing a game perfectly suited to impart a message about the importance of voting.
What could have been a cringeworthy moment of trying too hard to engage with voters was anything but for the 31-year-old congresswoman. Unlike other political Twitch channels, like those of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Biden campaign, AOC’s stream featured active participation with her audience; instead of bringing a stale, pandering message to the masses, she provided content that Insider called “authentic to the platform.”
A Millennial in a political system home mainly to Generation X and Baby Boomers, AOC understands the issues at the forefront of the public conscience and used the stream to engage with prospect voters on issues like healthcare and the importance of being politically active.
Speaking with British streamer Harris Brewis, known to most as "Hbomberguy," AOC highlighted the difference between American healthcare and the U.K.’s National Health Service, admitting she couldn’t “even imagine that interaction without a credit card or some sort of cash payment.”
“Healthcare doesn’t have to be this way,” activist group Fire Drill Fridays tweeted in response to a clip of the conversation.
Actively discussing with not just her own constituents but an international community of viewers, brings these issues to the forefront of the global conversation. Twitch, as a public forum, provides for a democratized exchange of ideas with instant feedback among viewers.
Through these meaningful interactions, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not only showcased her genuine nature amid a sea of political corruption and falsehoods but provided a glimpse into the future of campaigning. The world is changing fast and it’s time politics evolved with it.
AOC’s stream showed that her "radical" ideas for America’s future have attracted an audience that is willing to listen and interact with each other in a constructive manner. If this stream is any indication, young voters don’t want to be talked at by their leaders — they want to talk with them.
The future of political campaigning isn’t in rallies and larger-than-life figures in the media, but in making complex issues approachable by electing officials you could sit down and have a beer with. Or, in AOC's case, play a game with.
Domenic Purdy is a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Prairieville.