“Excuse me, but do you have a moment to talk about our revolutionary leader and political savior, Bernie Sanders?”
This is more or less the opening line of American voters who favor the cantankerous, part-time Maestro, Bernie Sanders as their 2016 Presidential Candidate. Whether chatting with their regular Barista or engaging in heated, albeit pointless, arguments on social media’s comment sections, Sanders supporters are taking every opportunity – both in person and online – to spread the love for the burgeoning Democratic Socialist.
Bernie Sanders has one ‘uugge advantage over the handful of presidential hopefuls left in the 2016 Election – his support base. Unlike the other candidates, Bernie’s supporters are superseding traditional outlets used to promote candidates’ messaging. Not dissimilar from Jehovah Witness preachers, individuals who #FeeltheBern are unabashedly knocking on people’s social media doors.
Bernie Bros and Bernie Broads alike are fervently swiping right on every face on Tindr, a social dating site, so they can help spread the Bern among American youths. These liberal do-gooders are sacrificing their very social life on Tindr, with several Bernhards being banned due to them spamming as many users as possible with, “Do you feel the Bern? Please text WORK to 82623 for me. Thanks.”
But if you can’t find your Bernmate on Tindr, you can #FeelTheYearn on the Bernie Singles matching site. I mean if GlutenfreeSingles or FarmersOnly can find their one-true love, so can all of the single people out there with a passion for grassroots messaging and grandpas in crumply suits. Considered the brain-child of the 385,000+ strong Facebook Group, Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash, Bernie Singles bring together “*dank* individuals who just want the fire to Bern in everyone’s heart!” In fact the site, which was launched by 19-year-old political science major, Colten Caudle, crashed under the pressure of 1 million views and 1,500 signups in just one hour on the first day. The site now has 8,249 members and is a virtual playground for those who are seeking a hunk, a hunk of Berning Love.
There are dozens of other more serious websites created by loyal supporters, from http://feelthebern.org/ to http://voteforbernie.org/. The website BernRate even tracks tweets with #FeelTheBern and #Bernie206, while also tracking the subscribers and conversation on the infamous subreddit.
The subreddit r/SandersForPresident is the original breeding ground for the Bernie Bros – zealotous Bernie supporters who populate the comment sections of political forums and articles, trying to thwart Clinton and her supporters in any way possible. From accusing Clinton’s supporters of being corporate Hillary-bots to blaming their vaginas for their poor decision making, the Bernie Bros social media use and rampant media coverage have been fairly damaging to the Sanders’ campaign.
However the result of the anti-Clinton narrative on social media has been fairly entertaining to witness. While Bernie’s campaign promised not to negatively attack Clinton, his supporters certainly did not. Take the #IWillLookIntoIt, which started trending on Twitter after Clinton said she would have to “look into it” to see if she could release the transcripts from her paid public speaking events. In response, Bernie’s campaign released the tweet below, linking to a website that has a counter counting the days that Clinton has been looking into this request.
The latest blow to HRC’s campaign materialized in the form of a Twitter hailstorm led by anti-Clinton and pro-Sanders supporters alike. After a private fundraiser in late February where a black activist confronted Clinton about her calling black people “super-predators” and the need to “bring them to heel”, #WhichHillary began trending on Twitter and Facebook. The meme-creators and GIF-Gods of the internet had a field day with it, creating graphics that depict the seeming duality of Hillary Clinton and her messaging.
Even apart from his supporters, Bernie’s campaign has actually been dominating the social media landscape. Since Bernie doesn’t receive much traditional media attention, the campaign has utilized online grassroots efforts – like churning out branded hashtags or using the design graphics created by volunteer artists at The Art of A Political Revolution – to ignite momentum on social media.
This comes as no surprise. Bernie’s support base consists of mostly white, young adults aged 18-34, whose eyes and hands are glued to their social device 25/8. This demographic is far more likely to post on social media, particularly on Twitter, as evidenced by @BernieSanders Twitter feed. Unlike Clinton’s account, Bernie’s Twitter page has hundreds of retweets from supporters sharing The Art of A Political Revolution graphics, photos of themselves voting or at speaking events, and using the dozens of branded campaign hashtags, like: #FeelTheBern, #BernOrBust, #Bernie2016, #BernYourEnthusiasm or #VoteTogether.
The biggest aspect of this social media emersed election is the incredible amount of contributions Bernie’s campaign has collected. Thanks to social media, people can send contributions to political candidates instantly, every day. And apparently Bernie Sanders supporters are doing just that. After raising $21 million in small donor contributions in January, the Vermont Senator raised $40.7 million in February. The donations likely occurred from the dozens of volunteer donor websites, the donation button on his campaigns social media pages as well as his daily e-blasts. Not only does this blow Obama’s record-setting small donor contributions from 2008 out of the water, but the flow of donations is likely to keep the hopeful Democratic candidate in the running until July.