Democrats try threading needle between TikTok concerns, desire to court youth vote

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

The Biden administration is adamant that the president takes the security risk of TikTok seriously, even though he appears on the app and hosts content creators from the platform in the White House.

It truly is a case of two Bidens, and indeed two Democratic parties, when it comes to the Chinese-owned social media giant frequently accused of collecting untold amounts of data.

There is the legacy-media-facing versions of Biden and the Democrats — exemplified by the likes of National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby and moderate Virginia Sen. Mark Warner — who push for a crackdown on TikTok, bemoan its many security and potential mental health risks, and offer assurances that President Joe Biden is as concerned as anyone.

Already, 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators have endorsed a bipartisan, Warner-co-authored bill that would empower Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to ban foreign technologies and companies from operating in the United States if they pose a threat to national security.

More are expected to join from each party and the so-called RESTRICT Act is also quite popular in the House.

“[They’ve] actually united Republicans and Democrats out of a concern of allowing the CCP to control the most dominant media platform in America,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), chairman of the Select Committee on China, said during an appearance on ABC.

However, Republicans have taken to pointing out discrepancies in Democrats’ public statements.

Kirby was called out on CBS’s “Face the Nation” for stating that Biden has “legitimate national security concerns over TikTok” when the president also makes ready use of the platform for his messaging.

Then there are people like Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.),  progressive Democrats who are positioning themselves as staunch defenders of TikTok.

“Let’s not have a dishonest conversation,” Bowman said at a press conference last week. “Let’s not be racist towards China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok, because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people.”

Bowman, who has a TikTok account, was recently revealed to have received a $150,000 donation from TikTok’s parent company, but his motivation for rallying to TikTok’s defense is not only a matter of effective lobbying.

Rather, Bowman speaks to a profound underlying worry for Democrats — curtailing access to TikTok could mean a massive loss of young votes.


Raimondo, the person who would be tasked with curtailing TikTok in the United States (it’s already banned in its home nation of China), said as much earlier this month in an interview with Bloomberg.

“[Passing a law to ban a single company is not the way to deal with this issue,” Raimondo said, later adding, “the politician in me thinks you’re gonna literally lose every voter under 35, forever.”

Raimondo, like others in the Biden administration, also promised to “work with Congress to figure out the right way to legislate to protect America from these concerns.”


And therein lies the problem for the left.

Democrats can strike a blow for American security, and in the process be accused of censorship, racism, and jingoism from the left while also risking the loss of a mass of young voters.

Or, they can strike a blow for freedom of choice, and in the process be accused by the right (and potentially the left) of allowing another government of spying on Americans while also risking the loss of a mass of older voters.

It’s an unenviable position to be in to be sure.

Many Democrats view option two as the more viable. During an appearance on MSNBC, Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher, said it would be a “problem” for Democrats to land on the side of a nationwide TikTok ban.

But it’s another problem if Democrats do nothing. Beyond the fact that a sizable portion of the American voting population is concerned about TikTok, U.S. intelligence agencies are also on alert.

As first reported by Reuters, NSA cybersecurity director Rob Joyce told a conference that TikTok was akin to giving the Chinese Communist Party a “loaded gun” with which to influence the American people or suppress information that is unfavorable to the CCP.

“Why would you bring the Trojan horse inside the fortress?” Joyce asked.