During this presidential campaign, most people would say that the majority of the mud-slinging and insults have come from the Republicans. However, the rise of Bernie Sanders and his wide support from youth has led to the growth of “Bernie Sanders Dank Meme Stash,” a Facebook page where members can share memes in favor of Sanders and in opposition to Hillary Clinton.
It all sounds like good fun, and I’ll admit the few weeks I spent following the page always added something interesting and funny to my Facebook feed. However, in recent weeks, the page has grown more polarized, supporting Sanders with a passion and disinterest in anything other than their own beliefs. As a result, many insults and inappropriate comments have been made targeting Clinton. I believe it has gone too far.
Bernie Sanders prided himself on starting a campaign that was free from irrelevant insults, something that was different than many of the campaigns we have seen in recent elections. This was a huge draw for supporters, and one of the main reasons he grew so rapidly when Clinton seemingly had the nomination in the bag. It is debatable whether Sanders has stuck to his promise of no mud-slinging, but his most vocal supporters cannot say the same. While supporters of Sanders never made any promises to monitor their own attacks on Clinton, supporters of any politician is the best representation of that politician to the general public.
Not everyone is well tuned-in to the details of each candidate’s policy, and when it comes to candidates who are within the same party and hold similar ideals (while they may have very different applications of those ideals to policy), the supporters and their actions are often a deciding factor in which candidate someone might wind up supporting themselves.
Irrelevant insults are so dangerous within the political sphere simply because they bring up factors that should never have an impact on someone’s ability to do a job. Many of the attacks made against Clinton have to do with her relationship with former president Bill Clinton.
One example of this is the idea of not voting for “Monica Lewinsky’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Wife,” otherwise known as Hillary Clinton. This phrase can be bought as a t-shirt. Not only is that wildly irrelevant to Hillary’s experience and ability to be president, but it invalidates her success as her own politician and her own career.
Additionally, there is a popular meme that compares the two candidates side by side, entitled “Bernie or Hillary? Be informed. Compare them on the issues that matter.” With intentional irony, the issues presented never matter. The author will put a completely random topic as the issue, followed by Bernie quoted something that would be considered “cool” and Hillary quoted something very “uncool.” Beyond irrelevance, this applies personality traits to Clinton that are just ridiculous, have no basis and ultimately damage her credibility for no reason. While some might believe it’s nothing more than funny, it has massive implications for our political system.
Sanders supporters are obviously not the only ones participating in this kind of language toward other candidates, but within the Democratic Party, it’s the mud-slinging that reaches the point of offensive. Sanders has had some difficulty in recent weeks in the primaries, and while it’s an up-hill battle from here on out, if supporters change their offensive language and promote more reasonable and level-headed language in regards to their support, I think there could be a huge turnaround by the time the nomination for Democratic candidate is finalized.
Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @alexstetts.