Noah Mitchell has a front-row seat to American politics.
Mitchell, 18, has lived in Washington, D.C. his entire life. This allows him unique access to political events that most only hear about on the news like the impeachments of Donald Trump, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony, multiple inaugurations and Congressional sports games.
“When I was younger, I wasn’t too interested in politics because everyone knows someone here, but later on in middle school and early high school as I met people from outside of DC I started to realize all the opportunities I had,” Mitchell said. “There’s only so much you can see on TV. I like to go to these events and take pictures, and I don’t have much of a goal at the end of the day other than learning more for myself and seeing if I can go to an event that hasn’t been reported on. My mom was a journalist so I’m caught between worlds where I’m really interested in politics and policy and journalism, and my Twitter feed reflects that.”
Mitchell’s Twitter account, @noahmitchell0, has a strong political focus, featuring on-the-spot videos of congressional officials past and present like Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) or former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), as well as selfies with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). His most noteworthy viral tweet is a video of him telling Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) “you’re a joke,” taken on Jan. 5, the day before the violent assault on the Capitol. He was blocked by Greene’s personal Twitter account until the block was lifted.
Guys I found MTG! pic.twitter.com/5ZM98ij0tO
— Noah Mitchell 🗳 (@noahmitchell0) January 5, 2021
“I was walking and talking to a friend on the phone when I saw Marjorie Taylor Greene,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know what to say, so I said ‘You’re a joke,’ but in hindsight I should have said something more policy related. A couple of weeks later my Twitter started blowing up and I found out that The Lincoln Project retweeted the video.”
Another one of Mitchell’s tweets went viral, this time of a photo featuring Rep. Mike Garcia (R- Santa Clarita) meeting with maskless “Stop the Steal” protesters, shot the same day as Mitchell’s video with Greene.
Mitchell, who was within earshot of the encounter when he snapped the photo, confirmed that the meeting was very brief and policy was not discussed. Mitchell was familiar with Garcia, aware of his predecessor Katie Hill and her subsequent resignation, and expressed shock that Garcia did not consider the optics and repercussions of the meeting protesters unmasked.
“He’s up for reelection in 2022. You have to look ahead to your next election because even talking to these Trump supporters, you don’t know how your district and the nation is going to view Trump and his supporters in a few years,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know if meeting with Trump supporters without a mask qualifies as an innocent photo. Whoever his opponent is is going to dig this up.”
Garcia addressed the photo during his telephone town hall with Santa Clarita residents on March 22, saying that this was only a brief 15 second meeting to greet some fellow Trump supporters who came to protest at the Capitol Building and that policy was not discussed.
“There are several protesters [outside the Capitol] on a day to day basis and…I take a concerted effort to go talk to everyone who is out there,” Garcia said. “Yes, I was not wearing a mask but we were socially distanced and we were outside, and that photo was used against us on social media like they oftentimes are.”
The photo has been deleted from Mitchell’s Twitter page, however he says this was not a conscious decision. He routinely removes tweets using tweet deleting programs.
Still, Mitchell views the increase in social media usage in politics as a double-edged sword. He finds the ease of accessibility to his location and posts to be stressful, especially since not everyone shares his political views, including potential employers.
“I was worried that people would see that I was on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 and associate me with the insurrection and luckily that didn’t happen, but that was so stressful,” he said. “I’m not a fan of how people idolize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, but I am a fan of how young people are becoming more interested and invested in politics. I don’t know if that’s just because of social media or if they’re realizing there are things wrong in their country or in their neighborhoods, but it is good that they’re getting involved.”
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Mitchell said that there is a palpable anger among residents of the Capitol that in addition to the newly erected fences and barbed wire, the security teams failed.
“We know there were people with guns and pipe bombs that day,” he said. “My friend lives on that block, that block is where my church is. We’re not mad just for political reasons, we’re mad because this is more than just the Capitol, it’s our home.”
Insurrection aside, since President Joe Biden has taken office Mitchell said that life in Washington, D.C. is much less exciting than during the Trump era.
“During the Trump administration you could find people everywhere,” he said. “I would go to Trump Hotel and I saw Rudy Giuliani, Ivanka Trump, Matt Gaetz, and Donald Trump himself. Right now with the Biden administration, you can’t find people everywhere because they’re not partying at some hotel that is trying to benefit the president. It’s less fun because I can’t go to Trump Hotel just to see who I’ll find but at least our country is in a better place.”
Mitchell said he sometimes forgets how unique it is to be a Washington, D.C. resident, where one can be so close to and freely talk to prominent politicians and easily attend politically significant events.
“Living [in Washington, D.C.] really makes you think about the news stories you see,” he said. “It might seem elite, but it’s really not. Members of Congress go home, eat dinner and go to work the next day. ‘House of Cards’ paints Washington in a very negative light and you don’t have the President going around trying to kill people.”
Currently, Mitchell studies political science at Northern Virginia Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Virginia to study media studies and foreign affairs. After graduation he plans to work in politics but start on a local level, since that is where he believes the most change is made.
“I’ve learned about politics so quickly just by being around all these politicians, and it’s like how people say the best way to learn a language is to go where people speak it,” Mitchell said. “People need to pay attention to politics, not just in election years. There are so many towns that the president isn’t going to know the name of. You’re going to affect more change working at a local level than nationally.”
Responding to Garcia’s comment, Mitchell said “the photo speaks for itself.”
“You have Mike Garcia not wearing a mask meeting with Trump supporters also not wearing masks; I don’t think you need much more than that to tell what’s going on,” he said. “I’m not sure how many people have died in your district, but I don’t think that’s the image you want to be showing to your constituents. Look at how many White House staffers [were] COVID positive. You don’t really need a whole backstory to see that it’s not just being used against him.”