The meme endorsement you might have missed—- and why it matters for 2020

By Blair Morris

March 29, 2020

On Jan. 19, the New York Times editorial board made history when it endorsed 2 prospects, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, for president, concluding, “May the very best woman win.”

This began the heels on another crucial recommendation, one that got far less media coverage: On Jan. 15, New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teenagers, a personal Facebook meme group, endorsed U.S. governmental prospect Bernie Sanders.

Within hours, Bernie personally thanked the group’s nearly 180,000 “NUMTOTs,” as they affectionately call themselves.

Why would a leading contender for the Democratic nomination so excitedly patronize a specific niche group on a social networks website?

In 2020, it’s simply smart politics– and a sign of how campaigning and political messaging methods are rapidly altering. Bernie’s post on the Facebook group’s page now has more than 16,000 reactions and nearly 3,000 comments.


A meme published on NUMTOT highlights why a number of issues essential to group members work with Sanders’ platform. New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens/Facebook. com

As experts on political memes, we’re well aware of the methods memes and meme groups can influence politics on the sly.

Though they might appear like humorous, pithy or even nonsensical digital artifacts, memes, as our research study has actually revealed, wield the power to join, divide, encourage and provoke voters. They have actually ended up being a significantly important– even essential– communication tool in politics, helping common voters shape political debates and refine arguments from their phones.

It’s an extreme departure from simply a years ago, when donors and tradition media outlets mostly set the tone, defined the criteria and determined the subjects of debate.

With social networks now a battleground for political argument, memes have actually become a crucial way for regular advocates of a candidate or celebration to join around certain concerns, produce talking points and take shape policy platforms– regardless of what The New York City Times, Fox News or The Washington Post has to state about it.

New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teenagers is a large, diverse meme group on Facebook. Produced in 2017, the page attracts those who share an interest in metropolitan preparation, real estate justice, transportation infrastructure and environment change.

Public transit and environment are 2 issues of primary importance to the group’s members. New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens/Facebook. com

On Facebook, thousands of NUMTOTs engage in robust democratic debate; it so happens that much of this argument frequently comes in the kind of Pokemon or Winnie the Pooh memes. In the past few days, NUMTOTs have actually discussed renters’ rights, fair housing policies, flood management for densely inhabited areas, public transit, income inequality and shelters for LGBTQ youth.

However with the 2020 governmental race well underway, the group has actually also been discussing the prospects and their policies.

The page has an outsized capability— on Facebook, at least– to communicate members’ political positions. Backing Bernie could prove especially effective for activating young citizens, since 90%of NUMTOT’s members are under 34 years old

A meme highlights differences in Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s political designs to discuss the group’s recommendation of Sanders. New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens/Facebook. com

One NUMTOT member mentioned just recently that this group boasts the size– and, more significantly, individuals power– of a small city.

Research study has currently shown how memes formed the 2016 election. As we note in our book, memes from reactionary Trump advocates efficiently framed media conversations about the election, with ethno-nationalist talking points taking spotlight in conventional media outlets. That may not have been the Trump project’s strategy, but there’s no doubt that these memes funneled attention in Trump’s direction.

For his part, Trump– maybe intuitively understanding their power– retweeted some of these viral memes, even though the meme’s creators had little or no connection to his main project.

4 years later on, the politics of memes have actually developed. NUMTOT’s endorsement actually represents an organized political choice that, in turn, has been acknowledged and commemorated by a prospect.

Not only can memes seed talking indicate campaigns, but they also give candidates a window into the issues that are very important to subsets of citizens. Memes have become a method for political groups to coordinate and act collectively, and guerrilla imagery has actually ended up being a key component of electioneering.

Might the very best memers win.

Heather Woods, Assistant Teacher of Rhetoric and Innovation, Kansas State University and Leslie Hahner, Associate Teacher of Interaction, Baylor University

This article is republished from The Discussion under an Imaginative Commons license. Check out the initial post

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About Blair Morris

Blair E. Morris 3849 Upton Avenue Brewer, ME 04412 207-584-3957