Just a few weeks before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled off her massive upset primary victory, the team she worked with has now released a stunning ad that highlighted her campaign’s core message and drew national attention to her campaign.
Now the same team of filmmakers just made another powerful ad for yet another Democratic Socialist candidate, Kaniela Ing, who is running for Congress in Hawaii’s 1st congressional district.
The Detroit-based media company Means of Production — a nod to their Marxist roots — produced a 2-minute, 20-second ad for Ing in which he discusses his life growing up as a native Hawaiian, working on a pineapple plantation and watching as big developers and corporations took political control of the Hawaiian Islands.
“Our campaign was on their radar since we first started,” Ing said of the production company in an interview with Mic. “And they were insistent that they come out to Hawaii.”
The ad features a stark and unapologetically progressive message that emphasizes housing for all, Medicare for all, free college and bold action on climate change. The central message of the ad is that it is not just the Republican Party, but also corporate donors within the Democratic Party that are standing in the way of that bold agenda.
“It’s easy to blame Republicans, to blame Trump for our problems, but we have to look in the mirror,” Ing says in the ad as images of luxury hotel and condo development in Hawaii flash across the screen. “Who controls our state? Who controls our party?”
The ad also delves into the darker colonial history of Hawaii and alludes to the workers’ rebellions by native Hawaiians that took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“As a kid, I remember my grandmother telling me stories of my ancestors,” Ing says in the ad. “She told me how our people were exploited by colonizers and forced to work on plantations. ... If my great-grandparents didn’t stand up to the corporate establishment of their time, I would still be on the plantation.”
Ing, the only native Hawaiian running in the primary, said that he felt it was important to feature that part of Hawaii’s past.
“I just had to get in Hawaii’s history and share our vision,” Ing told Mic. “You grow up in Hawaii and you’re taught to be nostalgic of the simpler time of the plantation. It’s revisionist history. ... People were shot and killed during the workers uprisings and we should really be nostalgic for that history of struggle.”
Ing faces an uphill battle ahead of Hawaii’s Aug. 11 Democratic primary. A May poll found him running in fourth place in a crowded field of five candidates, despite coming in first with voters under the age of 50. Since then, a sixth candidate, former Hawaii Congressman Ed Case, has entered the race.
Ing said he still feels buoyed by Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in Queens and thinks he can overcome the long odds through grassroots enthusiasm.
“I feel really good about the movement we’ve built,” Ing said coming off an all-nighter with his staff, who have worked overtime to try and build momentum.
“We have, by far, the most volunteers. We have people knocking on doors every single day, making phone calls and texts,” he said. “We have over 9,000 individual donors. The previous record for this district was 1,700. It’s unprecedentedly grassroots.”