Redefining Community Outreach: AOC and Ilhan Connect with Young Voters on Twitch
This week Senators Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar joined forces with several very popular Twitch Streamers and streamed a session of Among Us. Among Us, on the off chance you’ve never heard of it, is a game that involves very human components like teamwork, deduction, and deception, and it is all the rage in quarantine gaming circles. The human factor of the game is no doubt why it’s been so popular while we all lock ourselves away in isolation from the rest of the world. It fills that need for human interaction that for the last few months, many of us may have found overwhelming.
If you have no idea what this game is about, it’s a game about teamwork, yes, but it is also centered around manipulation, dishonesty, and murder. You and your nine closest friends are crewing a spaceship. For your mission to be successful, you must complete various navigation and maintenance, mission related tasks. The one caveat is that there is an imposter Among Us — See what we did there? That imposter is only pretending to help while secretly sabotaging and killing the rest of the crew. The game is played in silence until a body is found or someone calls an emergency meeting by pressing the big red button, at which point the crew must try to find the killer and vote in order to determine whether or not to throw someone out the airlock.
In today’s politics, taking part in a public run-through of a game like this may sound like political suicide. A politician would risk seeming inept, out of touch, or perhaps as many of us have felt while playing this game with our significant others, a little suspiciously good at lying. Of course, all of these are things that could potentially turn off voters. In that sense, it was remarkably courageous of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar to participate.
The stream of this game has quickly become one of the most popular in Twitch history. Which really shouldn’t be surprising. Politicians don’t do this. As far as I’m aware, nothing like it has ever been done. Its popularity serves as evidence that young voters want to connect with politicians, but they want to do so on their own terms. They want politicians to get outside their comfort zone, to show they’re human, and to be genuinely vulnerable.
Perhaps one of the reasons this tactic was so successful is that AOC and Ilhan didn’t make it all about politics. Yes, they made the same canned joke about voting early more than once, but it still felt genuine and fun. And I mean, come on, if you’re playing with AOC, whether you’re streaming or not, she’s probably going to make that joke. Also, AOC, if you’re reading this, I can’t believe I didn’t notice the spaceship is still running on fossil fuels until you pointed it out! The point is they didn’t go to Twitch to push their politics down anyone’s throat; they came to spend time with young voters on their own terms in their own (digital) community.
Even when our streamers gave AOC a couple of minutes at the end to explicitly talk about politics, she didn’t push a partisan agenda, she pushed an American one. Get out and vote! AOC encouraged young Americans that their voices matter. She told us to make a plan to vote, something older and younger Americans alike may have never even considered, despite statistics showing those who make a plan are way more likely to vote. She provided a tremendous, common sense resource( IWillVote.com) for making a voting plan.
When politicians talk about community outreach, most of them are thinking in terms of doors, phone banks, and maybe even townhalls. Why though? Why not try something different? What better way to reach out to young voters than to meet them on their own terms in their own space? Even if that space isn’t exactly tangible. By hopping on Twitch for a few hours and playing Among Us, AOC and Ilhan taught us that community outreach can be creative, dynamic, and genuine, and they may have just changed the way politicians connect with our community.
One final thought, if you have not yet done so, please make a plan to vote. As AOC mentioned, IWillVote.com is a great resource. Please at least pop over and check it out. Don’t just trust that you’ll figure it out on the day of. If you’ve already made your plan, encourage your friends, relatives, neighbors to make theirs. Also, if watching Ilhan savagely murder twitch players as AOC puts on her Sherlock Holmes hat in order to solve these murders has piqued your interest in Among Us, and you want to learn more, then the answer is elementary, my dear reader. You might just want to head on over and check out our in depth article on different playing styles, how to win as the imposter, and general tips, which is located here. AOC is such a Super Sleuth, by the way! Ok, go make your voting plan today!