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Bernie Sanders Wants to be America’s First Twitch Streamer President

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Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has started a Twitch channel. He is the second 2020 U.S. presidential candidate to have a presence on the games streaming platform, following 2020 Democratic candidate and Venture for America founder Andrew Yang.

Sanders’ Twitch channel was set up by his campaign’s digital communications director Josh Miller-Lewis as part of a push to start broadcasting more live content related to the candidate. On the docket for now are livestreams before and after this week’s first round of Democratic debates where staffers will discuss Sanders’ message and performance at the event.

“We’re moving toward doing a lot more live content on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook, tapping into an audience where there’s not a lot of political content already,” Miller-Lewis told Recode, from the parallel universe he inhabits where there is no political content on YouTube or Facebook. Stay there, Josh, you don’t know how good you have it.

Sanders’ Twitch presence is an easy lay-up for jokes (“Feel the Bern-out Paradise,” maybe. I don’t know, that’s just off the top of my head) but presidential campaigns have historically lived or died by their ability to adapt to new media platforms. John F. Kennedy famously outperformed the far less camera-friendly Richard Nixon in 1960’s televised debates, and Barack Obama’s successful 2008 campaign relied heavily on a bespoke social network designed by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The decisive weapon in 2015 was Twitter, where Donald Trump gained an edge by communicating directly with his millions of followers unfiltered, to the frequent dismay of his handlers but to his own eventual benefit.

Establishing a presence on Twitch and leveraging the increasing popularity of livestreaming is not going to be sufficient to win a presidential election, but it has the potential to be a powerful tool for Sanders, especially if he doesn’t have to compete with too many other candidates on the service. While he’s there, perhaps he could stream some Dead Cells, the game produced by a self-described “anarcho-syndical workers cooperative” with no bosses where every employee is paid the same. That seems up his alley.

Bernie Sanders previously made gaming news headlines last week, when he supported the ongoing push to unionize games development.

The Democratic presidential debates occur tonight and tomorrow, with each event featuring 10 of the 20 candidates. Sanders will be participating in Thursday’s debate along with frontrunner Joe Biden. The U.S, presidential election isn’t until Nov. 3, 2020. God help us.

Patrick Lee
Patrick Lee is a writer, illustrator, photographer, designer, and serial arsonist from Toronto. He has written for The AV Club, and for his personal website, About Face.

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