Bernie Sanders revived his presidential aspirations Tuesday, and with them his dedicated Facebook meme group. The Vermont senator announced that he’ll be throwing his hat in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, news that put the dank back into the Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash.
The online community was originally created in 2015 and took shape in 2016, when the Sanders was locked in a race against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic party presidential bid. Ever since he conceded to Clinton three years ago, the page’s 403,000 members have primarily stuck to posting contra-Trump and pro-socialist viral content. But Tuesday’s announcement that Sanders is running again restored it to its former glory with some notable differences that could be telling of the impeding campaign trail.
Sanders’ 2016 run was defined by its virality. The Senator was an underdog candidate who focused on income and wealth inequality that was able to rake in millions of dollars in small, online donations. His stances aren’t expected to change in 2020, but he’s far from the dark horse in primary. Sanders is one of the most meme-ed about faces in politics, which could allow him to rally even more widespread support online from groups, like Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash.
“I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least a million people from across the country,” Sanders said in an email to supporters.
And the Facebook group’s members wasted little time mobilizing:
The campaign sent out an email blast Tuesday, informing its 2016 supporters that Bernie wants to move into the Oval Office in 2020. A majority of posts were simply links to news reports confirming that the Senator was running for president, again. But many users posted about donating to the day-old campaign.
These calls to action resulted in an influx of group members posting screenshots about their early donations:
Sanders’ 2020 campaign might be hours old, but its clear that his online clout hasn’t diminished since his 2016 attempt at the presidency. This could be a deciding factor in his performance in the year to come.
While Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 has been called into question by an investigation with his ties to Russia, it was also seen as a prime example of leveraging meme culture to raise donations and foster popularity.
The pro-Trump subreddit, /r/The_Donald has amassed over 700,000 subscribers since the 2016 election, and continues to churn out memes every day. It isn’t far-fetched to imagine the Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash community recreating something similar.
Sanders is topping most early polls for the 2020 Democratic primary thanks to sheer name identification, according to NPR.
Dank political memes will likely be key to his newly announced campaign, much like they were last time around. Only this time, they could make a much bigger splash.