Some politicians are using new social media and Internet memes to communicate with the public, but is it innovation or a bad attempt to seem current?
Popular Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul signed up for Snapchat last week, following up with a Snapchat poking fun at the National Security Agency.
Paul is widely seen as a likely Republican presidential candidate for the 2016 election. He has Snapchatted people thanking them for following him on Snapchat, and seems to keep up with his attention on this social media.
Now, this can seem strange. Snapchat was created for sexting, right? Maybe? Just as some people stop using Facebook after seeing their auntie tagging them in dozens of pictures, Paul took Snapchat from the world of light-speed social media to Capitol Hill, potentially dooming it. But you see, light-speed is the key word here. Snapchat lets people send simple, concise messages in the blink of an eye and if that’s how young voters like to communicate, then of course at least some politicians will follow suit to boost their appeal. But what about Paul’s Snapchat making fun of the NSA? He “mooned” viewers with a picture of the moon captioned “Hey NSA check this out! You’ve been ‘mooned’ but its disappearing … better get a screenshot fast.” Definitely on par with your aunt’s awful puns, but more appealing than watching C-SPAN. Thus, we are bound to see plenty more politicians using Snapchat, and using it creatively.
This trend goes on. A couple of politicians have used the popular Internet meme Doge to express themselves. Whether they find the meme funny to begin with is debatable. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Doge stemmed from a pictures of a dog, a Shiba Inus, staring intensely. Captions in bad grammar are added around the dog and represent the internal monologue of the dog as it stares. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky used Doge to critique bipartisanship and government spending. Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas took a shot at Republican Sen. John Cornyn, also of Texas. Stockman is running for Cornyn’s seat in 2014. The picture of Cornyn with text saying he supports Obamacare funding and opposes Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is not funny, but since the first newspaper comics, there have been great pictures used as satire. If we equate Internet memes by politicians to political cartoons, there are aspirations for the political meme. And aspirations are definitely big for these republican politicians.
Obama’s declining popularity doesn’t change the awkward relationship many republicans have with younger generations concerning many social issues. Maybe the next picture on the cover of The New York Times will be President Barack Obama’s face doctored onto a duck with the caption “lame.”