LEARN MOREThe WIRED Guide to Memes In the four years since, memes have become part of the fabric of American politics. They’re news, they’re political talking points, they’re campaign strategy. They are no longer limited to young politicians vying for the youth vote. Senator Mitch McConnell—who no one would accuse of being hip—has in his 2020 reelection campaign included memes like a 404 error page featuring Justice Merrick Garland, whose appointment to the Supreme Court he successfully blocked. Politicians like Pelosi, who became a meme during the last State of the Union address for her pointed clapping , have a lot of clout and publicity to gain from keeping their meme streaks going.
The positive consequence of the political meme ecosystem is that average people at least seem to be more civically engaged. Politicians are rewarded for speaking internet, and the internet is rewarded for being informed enough to talk politics. Especially among younger generations, memes are frequently news delivery systems, a friendly gateway into larger, important topics. If you see a meme of Nancy Pelosi ripping up a speech, you might be curious about what it said. The downside of the new meme-conscious political world, of course, is that facial expressions and stunts have become as important as substance and policy, if not more. The people wanted to go to the meme theater. Now all the political world’s a stage.
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