The following is part of an interview with Link Lauren, a new media journalist and TikTok sensation, and Federalist Staff Writer Evita Duffy-Alfonso. The two discuss how the GOP should message to Gen Z, TikTok, climate insanity, and more. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Evita Duffy-Alfonso: Hi, everyone: this is Federalist staff writer Evita Duffy-Alfonso, and I’m here talking with Link Lauren, a new media journalist who has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok and is currently covering the GOP primaries. Today, we’re going to discuss with him what the GOP can do to reach out to Gen Zers and a number of other topics. So, Link, thanks for being here and talking with me today.
Link Lauren: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to talk to you.
ED: Tell me a little bit about who you are, how you got into this realm of new media journalism, and why you think you’ve really struck a chord with so many people on social media.
LL: So I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and then I went to college at NYU, the most liberal school on Earth. NYU really went on lockdown during the pandemic, like really shut down. So, I was in my apartment, doing school online, and I decided to start covering cultural stories and news stories. And that’s where I started growing my following. The mainstream media sometimes can be a little skewed — they have their own agenda. And I would just look at news stories from a common-sense perspective. I’d look at something and say, “Okay, what do I think about this?” I’d say what makes sense, put it out there, and it turns out common sense isn’t that common.
ED: So you started by bringing common sense to regular people on social media, and then you amass this giant following. What kind of advice do you have for the GOP going into the primaries and then into a general election to reach out to Gen Z? Because the numbers for the midterms were abysmal for Republicans.
LL: I feel like for any political party, stop focusing on pushing candidates and speak to what young people are going through. What I hear from young people is that financial stress is the number one issue they have going on in their lives. So reach into the hearts and minds of young people and tell them how you’re going to relieve their financial stress, how you’re going to help them pay for their first house, their first apartment, college, their car, gas, food, health insurance. If you can offer solutions and show solutions on social media to those things, then you can really bring young people into your coalition who will probably stay a lifetime.
There’s also this real struggle right now between mainstream media and alternative media and social media. I think everybody’s figuring it out, so everyone deserves some grace and everyone deserves a pass. But I do wish politicians and political parties would embrace social media influencers more because they might have more reach than someone on CNN, you know what I’m saying?
ED: Absolutely. I’m somebody who’s on TikTok. I’ve gotten a lot of flack for it, even from people on the Federalist staff, and we’ve had debates back and forth on our site about whether or not it’s appropriate to be on TikTok or use TikTok. I have my opinions about TikTok, I think that you have to be where the young people are if you want to enact any change in this country. What are your thoughts on TikTok, and how do you justify your use of TikTok to the older generations?
LL: Well, like you said, Evita, you have to find people where they are. So if the young people are on this platform, that’s where you have to go. I mean, look at back in the day when people were on MySpace, and then they went to Facebook, then they went to Instagram, you’ve got to evolve. You have to go find them where they are and jump into it.
ED: I don’t want to downplay the threat that China poses to the United States and the CCP’s use of TikTok. Obviously, TikTok and its creators and the people who run the app are beholden to the CCP, which is a problem. But I think about our own social media companies and the way that American social media companies have targeted conservatives, silenced speech, and partnered with the Biden administration to shut down opposition media, and I have to say I’m not as worried about TikTok as I am worried about American companies that are beholden to our own government. TikTok poses a threat, but I think they all pose a threat. And if we’re going to be on one of them, we might as well be on the one that has the most Gen Zers.
LL: I understand that people have concerns, they feel it’s not safe, or they feel like they’re being watched or surveilled. I totally get it. You’ve got to do what you’re comfortable with. But it’s a fallacy to think that these other social media companies aren’t garnering our information or watching us.
ED: You know, Gen Z seems somewhat politically homeless. There are some people who are strident conservatives like myself, but I know that there are a lot of young people who pick and choose parts of the party platforms that they like. Some candidates that they like, some aspects of those candidates that they don’t like, and there doesn’t really seem to be one party speaking to Gen Z. What do you see happening as more and more young people start to vote? Do you see the two-party system continuing? Maybe the two parties evolve differently to accommodate Gender Z’s unique perspectives and beliefs. How do you see that playing out in the years to come?
LL: Well, I feel like young people are much more independent than either Republicans or Democrats realize at this point. I mean, you even have people defecting from the Democratic Party like Tulsi Gabbard and others to become independent. So I think we’re gonna see a lot more independents. You’ve also got the Green Party, this No Labels party, so I think young people are just trying to figure out where they stand. We even see that with LGBT stuff. You see so many more people who are nonbinary. So I feel like there’s always this thing with young people where they don’t want to fit into any binary or be put in a box. I just think young people are much more beholden to policy than they are to political parties.
ED: Is there any advice that you have closing out? For any candidates, any of these political consultants, or grassroots organizers trying to reach out to Gen-Zers?
LL: Honestly, what I said at the beginning, reach out to young people and what they’re going through, it’s really that simple. And you know, sometimes the simplest answer is the best answer. If you offer solutions to things that are going on in their lives, they just might join your party.