The Detroit-based democratic socialist filmmakers behind New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's viral campaign ad have produced a new video for Hawaii state representative Kaniela Ing, a progressive who is running to represent the state's 1st Congressional District.
"It's time for a new era of Democratic leadership... The people of Hawaii demand housing for all, Medicare for All, a green new deal, free college, and student debt cancellation now. The majority of people in Hawaii and across the nation support these ideas, but big donors don't," Ing says in the video, which has quickly garnered the attention of progressive leaders, reporters, and voters.
A Hawaii for the many is possible, but we have to take it, together.
On August 11, this movement can make history, but I need your help.
— Kaniela Ing (@KanielaIng) July 25, 2018
"Watch this video—it will give you a hopeful chill down your spine," responded 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. Urging his followers to donate to Ing's campaign, McKibben added, "He's going to be an important leader on this planet."
"This video is like political poetry, weaving histories of resistance with a radical clarity about the situation working people face today," concluded Ella Mahony, a national political committee member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and an assistant editor for Jacobin magazine.
Recalling stories his grandmother told him about his ancestors, Ing says:
They preserved our environment and took care of each other. She told me how our people were exploited by colonizers, and forced to work on plantations. The people of Hawaii have come together and risen up before, and we can do it again. If my great-grandparents didn't stand up to the corporate establishment of their time, I would still be on the plantation.
"Let's send a working class, Native Hawaiian, democratic socialist to Congress," declared DSA's Honolulu chapter.
"Kaniela's from a new slate of politicians who take the approach that people should be able to live quality lives—not that they should be 'given the opportunity to' or 'given access to'—but that they should have housing, healthcare, education, community," tweeted Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig.
Several viewers were quick to draw comparisons to the video and broader platform of Ocasio-Cortez, who shared Ing's ad on Twitter and offered her support for the candidate:
.@KanielaIng + I both lost our dads at a young age, 2 coasts apart.
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That threw each of us into working multiple jobs to keep our families afloat.
We’re both running campaigns championing economic dignity, free of lobbyist influence.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) July 25, 2018
The Post's Jeff Stein noted that Ing's video addresses several key themes that propelled Ocasio-Cortez to her primary victory, including housing and Medicare for All, a refusal to accept money from corporations or lobbyists, and a clear message to constituents that not all Democrats are the same.
Stein highlighted one of Ing's lines from the ad, which points out the role that Democratic elected officials have played in pushing through policies that are failing constituents: "It's easy to blame Republicans, to blame Trump, for our problems. But we have to look in the mirror: who controls this state?"
Responding on Twitter, Ing wrote:
We’re saying the taboo. But it’s true. The same corporations who give to Trump give to Democrats. So it’s triple win when D’s and R’s poke each other in the eye. Both sides get votes, while the donors get paid out. https://t.co/KKb6REqMRv
— Kaniela Ing (@KanielaIng) July 25, 2018
The video was produced by Naomi Burton and Nick Hayes, DSA members who founded their Michigan-based media company Means of Production following the 2016 election. The pair, as CNN reports, "were paid less than $10,000 for the Ocasio-Cortez ad. After it exploded on social media, they reached out to Ing on Twitter, pitched him and—for about $15,000 this time—were off to Hawaii a few weeks ago to start filming."
Ing, who is also a member of DSA and has been endorsed by the group—along with many other progressive organizations, politicians, and activists—expressed his appreciation for the filmmakers after the video's release, tweeting, "Nick and Naomi are two of the most genuine, caring people I've met."
The vote for Ing's primary race is scheduled for Aug. 11.