Alex Mohajer is a political writer and commentator best known for his criticisms of the 2016 American Presidential Election and its aftermath for the Huffington Post. He is also the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Bros4America, a progressive political advocacy group (and podcast!). He is a frequent target of the alt-right and was named one of OUT Magazine’s 100 Most Eligible Bachelors of 2017.
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How would you describe your youth?
My childhood was difficult. My mom was a single mom, immigrated here from Iran, raising four kids, trying to make ends meet, and my father wasn’t around. Looking back, my mom absolutely is and was my hero but at the time, there were a lot of trying and painful milestones that mark my young years. So I escaped into film and television, was more drawn to prime-time dramas that my mom would watch than cartoons like the other kids, because of the intricate story-lines and plot details. I was able to disappear in them. This is really when I started writing. I was always drawn to the art of storytelling, taken with how music scoring might complement a scene or how an actor’s line delivery changed the entire dynamic. As I grew older that evolved into a passion for finding the emotional truth in things. Really story-telling was a life saver for me, and I was lucky enough to have a good friends with good fathers who were de-facto father figures to me. I owe them a lot as well.
Do you remember your first crush?
The earliest I can remember is probably my supervisor at the movie theatre I worked at, who was a 30-something management professional and I was in high school, maybe 16 years old. I tried so hard to be cool and hang out with the older kids, to try and make an impression. “I’m not like the other high school kids,” I insisted. “I’ve seen some things.” Which was true and I had, but I was still so young and naive in matters of the heart. I was pretty full of myself and was very heart-broken when I bought us concert tickets as a surprise and I had to be told in no uncertain terms that it was NOT going to happen.
What advice would you give to your adolescent self?
Believe in yourself. I mean, it may sound trite, but really. BELIEVE. IN. YOU. Your potential to do great things and big things is absolutely limitless and you’re actually pretty fucking smart and talented. When people tell you that, believe them. They see it in you and they want you to shine. This asshole facade you’re putting on to protect yourself is actually just going to be a roadblock to that greatness. Lead with kindness and love. Oh, and therapy is a good thing.
Where did your passion for politics stem from?
I have often talked about being seven years old and being put in front of the television by my mom to watch Bill Clinton’s first inaugural address to the nation, in which he specifically addressed young people. I was sure he meant me, when he “challenged a new generation of young Americans to a season of service.” It really did shape my formative years and my interest in politics. Bill Clinton is championed for his economic successes and maligned for his moral leadership, but his private transgressions overshadow a real voice of authority when it came to our obligation to others. Because we’re human. More than 10 years after he gave that speech I got to meet him as a Berkeley student when he was on campus speaking, and I have never been more starstruck in my life. The only time I’ve ever been more charmed by a celebrity or politician was when I met his wife Hillary 10 years after that, while campaigning to elect her president.
What was your relationship with health and fitness growing up?
I really respected and was grateful for Michelle Obama’s initiatives to promote health and fitness when she was in the White House because there wasn’t really the same kind of light being cast on America’s problem in this area. Healthy foods are far too expensive and difficult to come by, and so is access to education about weight management and health eating and living. If you grow up poor, like I did, it becomes a road block. I didn’t have a good relationship with diet and or fitness growing up. The health and education classes I was offered once I got into school were fine, but they’re not really important parts of the curriculum and I didn’t really understand it’s value or importance. I spent the entirety of my 20s needing to lose 80lbs. Which I eventually did. Now that I am an adult, I would like to see health and fitness become a core part of the American education system, and for policies enacted that make access to healthy foods, fresh produce, and health education far more accessible to those who need it.
“The Politics of Grief and is based loosely on my feelings of disappointment and grief following the presidential election last year, with my own experience serving as sort of a launching point into a broader sociological study on why we normalize abnormal political events and how it resembles our cultural predisposition to stifle back grieving during personal tragedies or heartaches.”
Tell us about BROS4AMERICA?
Bros4America actually started as Bros4Hillary in January 2016 and was a direct response to the BernieBro phenomenon and the white nationalist, misogynistic overtures we saw gaining momentum during the 2016 presidential election. Our message was clear: our bros are all of us, man, women, gay, straight, black, white, rich, or poor. It paralleled Hillary’s campaign message of unity through diversity, that we are “stronger together,” and more importantly, served to represent a group of people that was otherwise totally ignored by the American news media: people ENTHUSIASTIC about Hillary Clinton. I often talk about the myth of Hillary Clinton’s unlikeability. There’s a reason that over a year has passed since the election and Hillary is still making headlines on a near-daily basis. People LOVE her. They still do. We really rankled people. Bernie Sanders support groups accused us of being child pornographers, of being paid subsidiaries, paid trolls. They couldn’t reconcile that people were supporting her because people loved who she was and what she stood for. After the election, we felt pretty unanimously that interventionism robbed her – and us – of the presidency. Even with the popular vote victory being as commanding as it was, it was clear that the will of the electorate was not reflected in the outcome. So the natural evolution was to take her platform and advocate for it on the national level, because she was the “people’s president” and these were the policies and that she would have championed. We felt we owed it to her and to our members to become a resistance group. And to serve as a watch dog on Trump.
Where did it originate?
It started in a little apartment in West Hollywood, CA with Nelson Melegrito and Rance Collins. We started as a few people in a Facebook group and by election day, we had 40,000 members across our various platforms, had formed an organizing partnership with Hillary for America, and ended in the Top 10 for Call Teams across the nation making calls to elect her. LGBTQ Nation named us to their Top 8 of people working to elect Hillary. We became a mini-political force. I was able to meet with Senator Cory Booker and her campaign manager Robby Mook. Last week, I was able to meet Hillary for the second time and she addressed me by name and asked how the podcast is coming along. That’s pretty fucking cool.
Who inspires you?
Do you really need to ask? Hillary. Obviously. More so in her loss (if you insist on calling it a loss) than anytime before. She exemplified the grit and grace that we deserved in a president, and the way she got back up after what was the most painful personal and professional moment in her adult life was nothing short of inspirational. It proved to me her commitment to American values and her selflessness. I struggled with my feelings of grief and disappointment in the aftermath of the presidential election. It took me some time to get back up after that defeat, and I am certain that I was able to do so because of the way she got back out there and started kicking ass.
You’re a writer, actor, singer, activist and soon to be author. What motivates you to try all these different disciplines or have you always been this dynamic?
And I have a law degree and a full-time job working in civil service advocacy! Honestly, this has always been something that has plagued me. I have always had a variety of interests and dreams wider than the sky and an insistence on not really giving any of them up. People have told me my whole life I can’t do certain things, whether expressly by saying I needed to pick just one interest and pursue that because we can’t have more than one life dream, or impliedly through their words and actions, treating me differently because I was middle-eastern or LGBT. But my stubborn insistence on proving everyone wrong is probably responsible for most of my accomplishments in life. I am sort of a contrarian by nature, I seek to poke holes in things and disrupt the order of things and the more someone tells me I can’t do something, the more I want to do it. But I like to think I am motivated by a deep yearning for expression and justice. That’s the common link between everything I do, as random and varying as some of those activities might seem. I believe music is most cathartic when it comes from a place of truth, for example.
Or, I don’t know, maybe I’m just an attention whore?
Your Go-To track for exercising?
God, this is embarrassing. Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been?” or “Into You” by Arianna Grande.
“Believe in yourself. I mean, it may sound trite, but really. BELIEVE. IN. YOU. Your potential to do great things and big things is absolutely limitless and you’re actually pretty fucking smart and talented.”
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
That I am not invincible. But that I am unbreakable. In a lot of ways this was the most difficult year of my life even as I had a good deal of success in terms of my journalism and my organization getting more mainstream attention. But writing about politics and leading political activism in 2017 has taken a tremendous emotional toll on me, personally, but also on all of us, on our morale as a country. Unlike any other political event or even era before it, at least in my lifetime. And I’ve lived through 9-11, Iraq War, the entire Bush Administration, and the recession. It is a terrifying political climate and an even more terrifying time to stand up and put your voice out there and fancy yourself a leader within your movement. I was not supposed to be leading charges of the resistance right now. I was supposed to be in Washington D.C. with a State Department appointment under President Hillary Clinton. I guess that’s the bigger lesson…life’s what happens when you’re busy making plans.
Fitness goals for 2018?
Now that I have lost all the weight, I’d like to tone up and get the summer bod they talk about in the fitness mags.
Do you have any future projects that you can tell us about?
I am finishing up my very first book! I hope to have it done early next year. It’s called “The Politics of Grief” and is based loosely on my feelings of disappointment and grief following the presidential election last year, with my own experience serving as sort of a launching point into a broader sociological study on why we normalize abnormal political events and how it resembles our cultural predisposition to stifle back grieving during personal tragedies or heartaches. I will be continuing to provide political commentary to the Huffington Post and others. I’m hoping to do more on-camera work and participate in a documentary on resistance activists. Other than that, Bros4America has a new podcast that Hillary Clinton herself has heard about and listened to, so we are stoked on developing that further and our Apple News channel is taking off. We are partnering up with Human Rights Campaign and actively partnering up with other resistance networks to serve as a watchdog on this administration and – you heard it hear first – we will NOT rest until Donald Trump is impeached or resigns. Period.