When I first saw the Bernie vs. Hillary memes comparing them on issues that have no relevance to their campaigns, I thought they were hilarious. That is, until I looked closer at them. The issues that really matter, according to the memes are issues like "Harry Potter," name brand makeup vs. cheap makeup, responses to teachers, and even crayons.
Bernie Sanders’ responses in the memes are authentic, zealous and charming while Hillary Clinton’s are mechanical and pandering. As one Facebook commenter stated on a meme: “The meme is supposed to show that Bernie [knows] what he’s talking about and is relatable while Hillary is out of touch and flip flops.” The memes convey what virtually every person at my immensely liberal college believes: Bernie is the cool kid and Hillary is a stick in the mud.
Here’s the thing: these memes that people innocently repost are conveying a subliminal message. The memes are saying that Bernie is authentic, cool and modern. Hillary is cast as uptight, nerdy and unlikable. The young people that are backing Bernie Sanders are making these memes as a form of advocacy for Sanders. Young voters are seeing these memes and receiving the message that Hillary is uncool and Sanders is "chill." Even though the memes do not touch on actual issues, it still gets the point across that they believe Sanders is the better candidate.
If this was a brainchild from Sanders camp, they are geniuses. Young people are hard to engage. So start funny memes to get them to advertise for your candidate for free. Why pay for ad campaigns when you can just sit back and watch young people drag the opposition for you? Even if this was not an idea from Sanders camp, he is very lucky. These memes certainly are not hurting his already good chance of winning the nomination. Hillary can’t say the same thing.
Bernie has a shot at winning the nomination. His appeal to young people is unlike anything we have seen in recent history. The young population of voters that used to sit idly by during elections are now #FeelingTheBern. Not only that, he appeals to the liberals in a way that mirrors Barack Obama in 2008. Barack Obama was the underdog as well. Obama took Hillary down and now Sanders has the potential to do the same. If he is successful, he can credit the hundreds of memes that have spread like wildfire via Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Welcome to 2016, where the next Democratic presidential candidate might be influenced by a meme on the internet.