Meme the Election

Meme the Election

Meghan Mahar

The public’s perception of a candidate’s personality is arguably one of the most crucial

pieces of swinging a vote.

Unfortunately for the candidates in the 2016 election, this aspect is almost entirely out

of their hands. Social media places candidates under constant scrutiny down to every

second that they are visible in public.

tumblr_o23pblrxgs1r435avo1_500 defines a meme as “a cultural item in the form of an image, video,

phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous

way”. Meme-inspiring content is often born from moments when a candidate is caught

off-guard or has their actions contextually manipulated.

Memes reflect the perspectives of potential voters on social media, ranging from Baby

Boomers on Facebook to members of Generation Z on Twitter.

A mock conspiracy theory spread that labelled Republican candidate Ted Cruz as the

infamous 1960s “Zodiac Killer.” John Kasich was mocked for his food intake. Bernie

Sanders tweeted an image while watching the first Clinton vs. Trump debate and it

instantly went viral.

The memes that have surfaced along the road to the primary election and beyond

represent attitudes towards candidates and the election as a whole. When tensions arise,

memes alleviate it by introducing simple yet honest humor.

During the Sanders/Clinton clash, a poster titled “Bernie or Hillary?” circulated on

Twitter. The poster allowed people to combine comedic topics and pop culture issues

and contrast the two candidates, depicting Sanders as relatable and poking fun at

Clinton for trying too hard to relate to the younger generation.

Memes are also used to incite arguments. Adults unironically use pictures of candidates

with bold, politically charged captions with the goal of making a point: more often than

not, however, all parties affected by the post remain firm in their opinions. These posts

are driven by frustration with the current administration and the presidential nominees.

During the last few days of the election, both Clinton and Trump scrambled to secure

votes. Millions followed their trail to the White House via social media. In a time when

tensions are high, memes have become a cultural tool of expression.