The Young Turks’ Hasan Piker: ‘The way young people have resisted Trump so far has been amazing’

In an interview with The Tab, Hasan Piker explains the power young people have in Trump’s America

Depending on how you measure it, Hasan Piker could be one of the biggest commentators in American politics. The Young Turks’ dashing hotshot averages millions of views just on his Facebook page, and he has hundreds of thousands of adoring fans. Meet the hottest name in progressive media.

Hasan Piker

So what have you been up to recently?

Oh you know, just fighting a possibly authoritarian government, one day at a time. Trying to combat racism every which way I can. How about yourself?

All good thanks. You’ve spoken a lot about millennials being lazy and entitled. How can they resist the Trump administration?

I think young people are already resisting the Trump administration. If you look at the demographic makeup of who and how people voted for Donald Trump, you’ll see that millennials voted heavily in favor of the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. And I separate those two because there were a lot of progressive millennials that were Berniecrats. Bernie Sanders motivated a lot of youth to come out of the woodwork and that was incredible and revolutionary. And then a lot of millennials still voted heavily in favor of the Democratic Party. And now we’re taking it to the streets. Any time there’s a controversial executive order, we resist. You see it’s leaving its mark, when the Donald Trump administration will take back certain parts of their executive orders. This is somewhat unprecedented. Donald Trump is an unprecedented president but our reaction to it is also interesting to watch.

The reaction that you see from millennials, and people from all walks of life, against the Trump administration has been amazing so far. Unfortunately Congress is entirely red at the moment. They are basically corporate lackeys who never put Donald Trump in check, which is their most important constitutional right – to curb back executive powers whenever need be – the final bastion of our democracy will be the voice of the people. And that’s exactly what millennials are doing right now, they’re posting about it on social media, they’re talking about it, they’re more aware of what’s going on. It’s remarkable and it’s promising. It’s like this beam of light into the incredibly grim picture that we’re seeing painted by the Trump administration.

We mustn’t forget mobilization of the populus is the strongest thing we have in our hands. It’s not guns, it’s not a militia overturning a tyrannical dictatorship because our police force is so heavily armed, any sort of militia is not going to be able to combat that. That’s the way it is currently. But because we’re still a democracy, we have our voice – that’s the biggest power we have in our hands to enact any sort of change, and we’re using that right now.

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An accusation that a lot of progressives hear is that they’re special snowflakes who can’t deal with ideas they dislike. But often it seems like the right can be just the same. Are those on the right the real snowflakes?

You’re spoon-feeding me that question, man. It’s obvious. If you want me to be super objective about this, I think there’s snowflakes on both sides of the political aisle. It’s just that for the most part, it’s the conservatives that hypocritically will say the left are snowflakes, or thin-skinned or they don’t understand the joke.

What’s interesting to me about this statement is that these are both incredibly vocal yet also very small minorities on the two opposite ends of the political spectrum. You’re talking about the alt-right, which is extremely conservative, and you’re talking about the social justice warrior left, which is extremely progressive. And both sides are doing the exact same thing – pointing the finger at the most extreme liberal, for example within the right, and saying: “Look! This is representative of all the things liberals represent.” They don’t care about the fact there’s income inequality, or that I’m poor and I don’t have access to affordable healthcare, they only care about the 39 different gender pronouns assigned to each individual sexual identity.

And that’s an exaggeration but we do the exact same thing on the left. We point the finger at the alt-right and say every conservative is racist, everyone that voted for Donald Trump is racist. That’s just not true. Everyone that voted for Donald Trump isn’t racist.

And do you get sent a lot of unprintable fan messages?

Absolutely. It’s funny because I was talking to a friend about this. Recently I more than tripled my Instagram growth in a very short period of time. And in that period, almost every single person that followed me would accompany that with a DM. And usually it’s something like: “Oh, Tomi won’t DM you but I will.” Or the most frequent one is “daddy”, “slay me,” and there are some very creative ones as well. Yes, for the most part it’s unprintable, specifically the nudes that I get.

So on my Snapchat, I experienced an influx of nude photos being sent to me. And I was confused, so I addressed it on my Snapchat story and it turns out there are entire Facebook groups dedicated to sending me nude photographs, and they talk about it. Thousands of people are talking to one another about sending me nudes, which is flattering. It’s an interesting use of people’s time, but whatever.

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Posted by Hasan Piker on Friday, January 27, 2017

What’s the most creative message you’ve received?

I’m looking through them as we speak. I should have something good for this, for whenever people ask. There’s a lot of praise or people thanking me for sticking up for them, which is great. I really love those, I really appreciate them. A really funny one I got recently sent. This girl asked me to go to prom with her. I didn’t respond, obviously I’m not going to because she’s 17-years-old, I think.

He reads the message:

“Hey Hasan, I got rejected from prom by this kid I liked for three years because he knows he will be able to get it in with her [her being the senior]. Wow. At least he is honest. You should go to prom with me because we will be poppin’ at prom and just look great and that’s the kind of revenge I need. Please respond before May. Thanks!”

Take her to prom!

I’m assuming because it’s high school prom, she’s underage. I would probably not do that.

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Posted by Hasan Piker on Thursday, February 23, 2017

And one final question, can Bernie Sanders still win?

It depends on what your definition of winning is. I think Bernie Sanders is already winning. He showed a massive chunk of the American public, and even the world, that you can stray true to your ideals as a politician and advance all the way up to the primaries. And in that sense, then Bernie Sanders has won and is continuing to win because he spread this message of hope. But if you mean in a very literal sense in 2020, then absolutely not. One of the biggest criticisms of Bernie Sanders was how old he was. Ironically, Donald Trump is almost as old – he’s the oldest president. But no, Bernie Sanders will not have a chance in 2020. Given that the Democratic establishment is still very reluctant to even consider the more progressive side of its party, that’s another reason. We’ll see.

Conversation edited for length and clarity.

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