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Q&A with YouTube star Tyler Oakley about politics and early voting

Tyler Oakley QA
Tyler Oakley speaking to UNC students about the importance of exercising their right to vote and voting early.

YouTube personality and author Tyler Oakley visited the UNC campus Friday to encourage students to participate in early voting. Oakley has been traveling around the country to campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and encourage young people to vote in the election. 

Assistant State & National Editor Kent McDonald sat down with Oakley to discuss the 2016 election and how social media has influenced contemporary politics. 

The Daily Tar Heel: You're here in Chapel Hill today to help promote early voting. Why was visiting UNC important to you? 

Tyler Oakley: I'm traveling all around — this is I think my fourth stop as far as states go — but North Carolina is special to me because it's a really important state and a lot is at stake in the election. So, we're here to celebrate early voting, we're here to talk about how people can vote, where people can vote and the fact they can do it before Nov. 8. 

DTH: North Carolina is considered a swing state by many political analysts and has received a lot of national attention due to controversial state policies like House Bill 2. Did this influence your decision to visit UNC? 

TO: Totally. I mean, things that are important to me are important to people outside of my bubble and especially knowing how important local politics are. When I think about my audience, I always think about somebody who's younger, who might not necessarily be comfortable with who they are yet, but they're observing their communities and their state and how they vote and how they voice their opinions. I want those younger people to see people standing up for them. So that's why North Carolina's really important to me, and a lot of these swing states, because there are a lot of people that are very outspoken that will be loud against those kids and their identities and so, it's personal. 

DTH: You have been very vocal about your support for Hillary Clinton. Why are you supporting Clinton to be the next president of the United States? 

TO: Her values are aligned with a lot of what I believe in. Not only is she the most qualified candidate in the race, she's a good human. I think there is a stark difference in your choices in this election and I want somebody who's not only qualified and thinking about everyone, but also somebody who I would be proud to have represent me. 

DTH: You have built your career through online platforms like social media and creating your own digital content. How do you think social media and online content have influenced politics and campaigns? 

TO: There's an opportunity there to reach so many more people, in a much more intimate way and I think young people who are savy on the internet can see through what might have been the norm 20 years ago and how to reach people. Their connections, because they're through social media, are a lot more honest and unscripted and I guess, authentic. And so, when I see the convergence of politics and social media, I think there's an opportunity for a politician to really be a human whereas I think before there was this distance where they didn't feel so close. Now you can literally tweet at somebody who could be running the country and interact in that way. I think that's great because now it feels more personal, the whole process. 


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