Desperately Seeking Authenticity: The Memeification of Bernie Sanders

“Nowadays, everybody tells us what we need is more belief, a stronger and deeper and more encompassing faith. A faith in America and in what we are doing. That may be true in the long run. What we need first and now is to disillusion ourselves. What ails us most is not what we have done with America, but what we have substituted for America. We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in place of reality.” Daniel Boorstin, The Image, 1962

The popularity of Bernie Sanders among millennial voters is rather extraordinary and it is striking a nerve among older voters, who are actively dismissing Sanders’ youngest and often most vocal supporters. Gloria Steinem’s criticism of young women voting for Sanders reveals a fundamental and generational divide between feminists. Steinem’s comments reveal something larger happening during this election. That is the divide between the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.

More and more, I am observing my peers share memes and misconceptions about the two Democratic nominees across social media. These memes, particularly the Bernie Bros, emphasize that for whatever reason, the Clinton campaign simply does not resonate with millennials. Among my friends, the same people who voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, are not supporting HRC. But why? Because Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old white Jewish man originally from Brooklyn, is somehow perceived as more authentic than Hillary Clinton.

The supposed evidence of Sanders’ authenticity often appears on Facebook. For instance, a friend recently updated her cover photo with the caption: “When you walk the walk”.

sanders MLK
Bernie Sanders, allegedly marching with MLK, Jr. in Selma.

This is allegedly a photo of Bernie Sanders marching with MLK, Jr. at Selma in 1965 and it’s an internet hoax. Think about it. Do you really believe Sanders would go his ENTIRE political career (30+ years) without ever mentioning this photo? Or his presidential campaign, which needs moments like these (the real ones, not the fake ones) to elaborate the appeal of a Sanders’ presidency? The answer to both questions is no. But the memeification of Bernie Sanders is just selling what the Clinton campaign seems unable to produce.

Authenticity. Continue reading “Desperately Seeking Authenticity: The Memeification of Bernie Sanders”

Advertisements