by Jenna Bloom ‘21
In the build-up to the U.S. presidential election in early November, Gen-Z and those under 18 found a multitude of ways to get involved and have their voice heard without yet being able to legally cast a vote. Two TikTokers had the idea to both mobilize youth on TikTok, and voice their support for Joe Biden. The collaborative TikTok account @TikTokForBiden was created a few months ago by Aidan Kohn-Murphy (@politicaljew) and Brendan Radecki (@brendanisugly), with the intent of not only raising support for Joe Biden in the upcoming election but spreading awareness about issues that are important to members of Gen-Z.
“This election is not just about politics, it’s about decency and it’s about what we want in this country … Teens are realizing that our rights come from politics, for better or for worse,” 16 year old DC Native Kohn-Murphy said. The account has amassed 1.2M+ followers and has 493 members, and the iconic “Gen-Z for Biden” logo can be seen on countless profile pictures across TikTok.
Kohn-Murphy explained that while there are superPACs and organizations that involve members of Gen-Z, “there are no organizations created entirely by members of Gen-Z, and TikTok for Biden allows us to put out the content that we are passionate about.” With a link in the bio of the account to voting resources, poll worker sign-ups, educational tools, and more, the large team of teens across the US made it their priority to get people both registered and out to vote.
With a group as large as almost 500, the structure of the account is organized and simple. There are group leaders, who lead cohorts of 10-15 creators, and most of the communication occurs in these small groups. There is almost a constant stream of Zoom calls with the various leadership positions, to keep transparency and communication levels high. In terms of what videos go up on the account, there’s a mix. The content varies between compilation videos with some of the smaller creators and individual videos with the larger creators.
The night before November 3, the full TikTok for Biden team had a Zoom call to build hype and excitement. On this call, they featured Devon Bostick, who played Rodrick in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movie series, and Darren Criss who played Blaine on “Glee.” During the five days before major networks called the election for Biden, the account held live streams where different creators watched the news and updated their audience on what was happening.
Spearheading these efforts is no easy feat, but Kohn-Murphy proved he was up for the challenge. Being granted a leave of absence from his DC private school to take political action, Kohn-Murphy was able to dedicate a majority of his time to social media activism. When he started TikTok in March, he knew he wanted to make political content. He chose the username politicaljew because he felt it represented him well, but then began to see hate and criticism from all sides of the political spectrum for being Jewish. “People have a tendency to take their anger and hatred toward the current Israeli government out on American Jews, which is completely illogical,” Kohn-Murphy explained. “Judaism is never something you should be ashamed of, and antisemitism is a huge issue in today’s society that we need to fight against.”
Since the election, the TikTok for Biden account has renamed themselves to be @gen.zforchange, and the team still plans on using their platform to fight for issues they are passionate about.“Just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you can’t make change,” Kohn-Murphy explained. “I’m 16 myself and can’t vote, although I really really wish I could.”