Feb 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tutors Dems on mastering social media

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is seen on a TV monitor as she beams into a congressional hearing.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who captivated millions this week with an Instagram Live monologue about her Capitol siege experience, shared her social media savvy Wednesday during a master class with her fellow Democrats.

Why it matters: One of the party's best digital practitioners is trying to help the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in particular, become stronger, more sophisticated and prolific so it can better shape policy in the 117th Congress.

  • Progressives are feeling emboldened, and admit that the Democrats' control of the House, Senate and White House gives them fresh bandwidth to blast out their message.
  • Ocasio-Cortez specifically urged focusing individually on key elements of the COVID relief bill, because “it’s too much to message in one week.”

Driving the news: The New Yorker spoke virtually during a Zoom call with more than 140 people, including CPC members and staff. She said President Biden's inauguration was a turning point for the type of messaging Americans want to see from Democrats.

  • "We are now in the era of receipts. People now want to see the actual clips of legislation. They want to hear less about our stances."
  • Axios was able to independently monitor and take notes on the meeting.

Inside the virtual room: Ocasio-Cortez acted as a creative director, of sorts, for Democratic colleagues who, by and large, are unfamiliar with how to project authenticity on social media.

  • She pitched a video series that Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) could launch to better share her personality with constituents, and talked about how the streaming platform Twitch can be used to mimic a more engaging town hall.
  • “We’re just mere mortals and we rely on our staff to do all this,” Frankel told her.
  • Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) asked what type of content is bet to put out on Twitter versus Instagram.

The big picture: Democrats aren’t just trying to figure out their best message as a party; they’re desperate for strong messengers who can reach more voters by meeting them where they are — online.

  • The Zoom meeting signals a shift within the party.
  • Progressives who are natives on social media have been criticized by colleagues with the familiar refrain that “Twitter isn’t real life.”
  • Now, they’re in the driver’s seat, teaching their colleagues how to lean into their personalities to push progressive policies like the Green New Deal.

What they’re saying: Rapid response is Democrats’ biggest opportunity to improve and compete with Republicans, AOC said.

  • Republicans “want to bully you out of using your strongest resource. That’s what they do with our party and that’s what they do with our policy as well," Ocasio-Cortez added. "They try to get us to back down before the fight.”
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