An MIT engineer named Misha Leybovich knows what Elizabeth Warren needs to win the 2020 election: Memes. Yes, those pictures with catchy sayings you see on the internet. In order to assure Warren’s victory, Leybovich created “Warren’s Meme Team.” Even the NY Times thinks this idea sounds cringey:
His vision starts with an eight-page emoji-laden Google document titled, “Warren’s Meme Team Plan: Saving the Nation With Selfies and Memes.” “The right understands the importance of memes: They approach it like war,” he writes.
“We can’t let this be an asymmetric battle,” he adds. “We fight back, in a way that’s authentic to our values.”
Mr. Leybovich’s plan involves creating a “distributed network of thousands of hands and brains” to spread Ms. Warren’s message across platforms. “One thing I think Trump did really well was crowdsourcing the creativity,” he told me. “If you look at the popular memes, it’s not the stuff his campaign makes. They just amplify it, even if it’s toxic.” His idea is to amass content creators and arm them with templates that work across platforms (images for memes but also filters for platforms like Snapchat and TikTok). “If you give people an easy way to have a good time making things themselves, you can get them to organically spread that message.”
Mr. Leybovich, who says he has spoken to the Warren campaign about memes and also applied for its deputy chief technology officer position, is optimistic that the right infrastructure and coordination can make Warren plans like a wealth tax and universal child care into base-rallying content. There’s some thin precedent for this. Mr. Leybovich cited the tens of thousands of selfies Senator Warren takes with supporters at rallies as an indicator that the campaign has learned to tap into and energize its supporters’ enthusiasm online. The selfies are a natural fit, but there’s also something inherently cringe-y about an organized campaign to spark and capture the millennial and Gen Z meme magic. That tends to work only organically.
You can check out the Warren Meme Team website here. The “Team Plan” is a 9-page document written with lots of emojis.
PJ Media reports that the launch of the Meme Team was supposed to take place on Monday of this week. That’s what the last post on the group’s Facebook page says. But so far, nothing is happening. The group’s Twitter feed is only being used to send invitations to college Democrats to check out their pro-Warren snapchat lens:
@ydnc hi! We're a group of volunteer writers/artists/marketers. For your members who like Warren, our first experiment is a Lens: https://t.co/XDHuXQXjl7. We're making more cool effects, and love ideas.
— Warren's Meme Team (@WarrensMemeTeam) November 8, 2019
Honestly, this does remind me of a meme. Remember pajama boy?
That was an Obama-era promotion for Obamacare which was endlessly mocked. I think the meme team could be headed for the same fate. I don’t think MIT engineers explaining memes with emojis is going to result in top memes for the candidate, but it could be very amusing to see them try.
Here’s the Quartering’s take on the news: