Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the impact of social media and campaign technology.
To some, she’s a dangerously effective new version of the millennial MAGA politician ready to tear down the institutions of government in pursuit of an ultraconservative revolution. To others, she’s something more, the vanguard of a potentially significant turn in American politics. Luna is less a politician who parlayed her seat in Congress into a huge online following—like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—than the other way around: the first social media influencer to parlay an online audience into a seat in Congress.
Part of Charlie Kirk’s job is to live on the internet. The pro-Trump activist and podcast host created Turning Point USA with the goal of creating an army of influencers to combat what he saw as the left-wing tilt on college campuses and in popular culture. One day in 2018, Kirk was struck by an Instagram video of a ferocious Latina immigration hawk. “It was literally a rant on how the news was full of it and they weren’t being transparent about what actually happens at the border,” Luna says. But the clip caught on like wildfire. “I saw that she was a natural talent from Day One,” Kirk says. He thought Luna had the same kind of magnetism he saw in Candace Owens, his first big discovery. “I realized she really had a spark.”
Kirk called Luna to offer her a job heading Turning Point’s Hispanic outreach operation. Luna was intrigued, but there was one problem. She was about to leave for medical school in Grenada. Kirk, a prodigious fundraiser, told her not to worry. He would reimburse her for the costs.
“That’s where I changed paths,” Luna says.
Besides the homegrown “talent” at Fox, with their choice of guests they were making people who used to be fringe characters into powerful media stars. One of the first prototypes out of their laboratory was a woman named Michele Bachmann.
After the GOP takeover in 2010, she demanded a seat on Ways and Means. Boehner politely declined.
Her response to me was calm and matter-of-fact. “Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox,” she said, “and Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made it possible for the Republicans to take back the House.”
I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now.
She was right, of course.
He assuaged her with a seat on Intelligence.