Alex Pearlman is not a happy man. The thirtysomething TikToker from Philadelphia went viral last week for a fiery three-minute rant that savages his own party, the Democrats, for tone-deaf messaging, economic hypocrisy and failure to deliver core party goals. The video was viewed more than 530,000 times on TikTok, with popular commentators from Jonah Goldberg to Glenn Greenwald lauding it on Twitter.
For Pearlman, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs abortion ruling was the kindling, and some poorly timed Democratic fundraising appeals lit the match. “I’m not going to shut up about this,” Pearlman thunders into the camera, “because I can’t yell at the Republicans. They’re not going to change. . . . But I can yell at the Democratic Party, and I can tell them where they can at least make one f–king small change to stop pissing me the f–k off every hour right now. . . . Stop sending me fundraising requests right now. Okay?”
He goes on to note that Republicans patiently executed a plan over decades to repeal Roe v. Wade and a Supreme Court leaker gave them five weeks’ notice of the Dobbs ruling. The Democrats thus had plenty of time to hatch plans to counter these moves. But no: “Your response after five weeks of careful study and planning and thought has been to send us nonstop fundraising emails,” Pearlman roars before listing a handful of top lawmakers who have net worths in the multimillions.
In another video, viewed by almost 745,000 TikTok users, he notes the growing economic dread among Americans as gas prices rise, housing supply tightens and inflation soars. “Hi. So this is a message to Democratic leadership,” he begins. “If you are related to a Democratic f–king leader somewhere in this f–king country, can you reach out to them and tell them it’s f–king bad? It’s bad. It’s f–king bad!”
He then zeroes in on reasons the Democrats are facing steep losses in November. “Everything’s fine, gas prices are going up, buy an electric car,” he says sarcastically, mocking the party’s messaging. “We’re trying to keep the goddamned lights on. We’re trying to f–king survive out here. We’ve been screaming at you for years, ‘It’s getting worse!’”
The redheaded TikToker isn’t alone in these sentiments. Other TikTokers share Pearlman’s dour opinion of politicians who, for example, suggest that Americans concerned with surging gas prices should just buy an electric vehicle.
And recent polling confirms that Americans are feeling the pain of inflation. July’s Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that despite the heated public debates over abortion and guns in recent weeks, Americans still consider inflation to be “the most important issue facing the country today.” The economy and jobs come in second, with 71% saying that the economy is “on the wrong track,” and 88% saying either that America is in a recession or it will be in the next year. Only 40% approve of the Democrats’ handling of these issues. A June ABC News/Ipsos poll revealed similar findings: 71% of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of inflation, and 83% say that the economy is a top issue that will drive their voting decisions.
Prestige media, though, are fixated on the Jan. 6 hearings, even as a cheeky Vox headline admits, “The January 6 committee’s biggest task is getting people to care.” And it’s right: 63% of respondents in the same Harvard CAPS/Harris poll that identified inflation as a top issue said that Congress should spend its time focusing on other issues, and only 9% identified Jan. 6 as a top issue leading into November’s elections.
A left-leaning branding strategist speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last month worried that bread-and-butter economic issues would sway working-class voters more than abstract worries about the future of democracy. “I’m concerned and everything in my gut tells me . . . unfortunately, the gas prices and the bread is going to be more compelling,” Donny Deutsch explained.
Pearlman isn’t likely to switch to the GOP any time soon, as many on Twitter are predicting and as more than 1 million voters recently did. But if his frustration with the Democrats’ performance is representative, the party is in for trouble this fall. “The Democratic Party has lost the thread, completely,” he explains. “All leadership in the Democratic Party needs to be thrown out and replaced.” If something like that happens in November, Pearlman may go down as TikTok’s most disgruntled sage.
Nora Kenney is deputy director of media relations for the Manhattan Institute, whose City Journal first published this piece.