Thirty-thousand dollars for “internet web memes” is not something one would expect to find while perusing the expenditure reports of a presidential nominee’s Super PAC.
But, that is exactly what can be found in the campaign filings for Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson.
In a political landscape more divided than ever, Johnson is presenting himself as the middle ground. Instead of being forced to decide between the greater of two evils, vote independent, argues Johnson. But, with November inching closer, this argument seems to not be picking up quite enough steam. Many first time voters see a vote for Johnson as a vote thrown away.
“His odds of winning are so low,” said CSU student Luke Grattan. “He has a less than one percent chance of winning.”
Even supporters wouldn’t risk casting a Johnson ballot.
“I agree with him for the most part,” said CSU student Lewis Duncan. “I am a Libertarian, but I would not vote for him.”
To try and counter this sentiment, the pot-smoking former New Mexico governor has made a name for himself this election season by taking a rather unique approach to his campaign. Aside from public appearances and interviews, Johnson’s AlternativePAC has been funding extensive operations on the internet. Some of these endeavors have been more successful and public than others, such as his viral “Dead Abe Lincoln” advertisement in which the former third party victor absolutely trashes Trump and Hillary.
Other endeavors have been slightly more questionable.
The apparent result of Johnson’s web memes investment, the AlternativePAC’s YouTube account, has slightly over a hundred subscribers and seven short advertisements. Minimalist and set to weird techno music, these videos just reek of trying too hard to go viral.
The first presents two varieties of ice cream, chocolate Trump and vanilla Clinton. Then a Johnson flavored variety appears next to a caption that reads, “How about that, there’s a third!”
Another video compares the election process to finding matches on Tinder. After swiping right on Johnson, the caption reads, “This year, don’t settle. Score.”
All together, these videos have an average view count of 6,000, quite far off from viral status.
AlternativePAC must have had some of that meme money left over when they started this next campaign. The past few months have seen a silent proliferation of Johnson-themed photoshops and image captions, the humor behind which is perplexing. While the Libertarian’s campaign has not publicly assumed ownership, there is no other rational explanation for the existence of these images.
One semi-popular picture features Johnson juggling and riding a unicycle with the caption “here come dat Gary,” a confusing attempt at riding the bandwagon of an already dead Vine fad.
Upon seeing this image for the first time, Jordan Bingel said it “makes him look kind of foolish honestly. Not effective at all.”
Then there are the image captions reminiscent of the kind of content shared by middle school Facebook groups in 2011, but with a political angle and complete disregard for the source material.
As one campaign staffer probably asked, who can forget Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World”? Everyone. The answer is everyone.
Johnson desperately wants to be the millennial candidate. His internet campaign is designed to appeal to Gen Y and break down the conception of the unknown independent destined to lose. But, Johnson’s true success in popular media has been less than positive.
His recent series of gaffes from not recognizing the Syrian conflict epicenter of Allepo to drawing a blank on foreign leaders he admires have gone more viral than any picture or video AlternativePAC has ever produced. But, despite the recent turmoil, his shot at the presidency is far from over.
While Trump stumbles, Johnson picks up more points, closing in on three states in the polls and holding a massive 16 percent in Colorado, some of the highest numbers by any other third party candidate in recent history, the Colorado Independant and Inquisitr News report.
Even if he misses his shot in 2016, Johnson’s historic run will be remembered for a long time. His trendy internet campaign? Not so much.