Last week, Democratic candidate Joe Biden held a rally at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College that catered to the community college audience. Though the rally was free and open to the public, the number of attendees was low. The number of young people present was even lower.
The young attendees seemed disinterested and indifferent to the actual policies of the Biden administration. Emely Bonilla, a California Polytechnic University Pomona student, attended the event alongside her cousin Gabriela Flores.
“Honestly we are kind of just here out of curiosity,” Bonilla said.
This seemed to be a common thread throughout the rally. Young people were there for the experience of seeing a politician up close and in person, not because they were passionate about a Biden presidency.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama broke the internet in 2016. The former president and vice president shared a scoop of ice cream, ran through White House hallways and even made each other friendship bracelets. This was the Biden young adults knew and were willing to retweet.
Everything seemed to change when Biden decided to run for the Democratic ticket for the third time in April 2019. For the past seven months, Biden has struggled to maintain a good relationship with young voters, as seen in Swayable polls. The appeal of other candidates and the removal of the rose-colored glasses put on during the Obama era have plummeted Biden’s success with young people.
Instead of arguments on Biden’s policy, young people would rather argue about their favorite Biden meme. The politician has become a social media buzzword rather than a legitimate candidate in the eyes of younger generations.
Biden has long relied on his prior experience in the White House as Vice President, playing into the role of being the ‘old-school’ candidate on a mission to revive the centrist ideals of past Democratic candidates.
The days of “bff” memes alongside President Obama are long gone for Biden. Biden, now known as ‘Creepy Uncle Joe,’ has faced scrutiny after photographs of him with a 10-year-old-girl at his campaign surfaced on the internet, when Biden called the young girl “good-looking.” Those reports also found that Biden told the brothers of a 13-year-old Iowa girl to “keep the guys away from your sister.”
This has not been the first instance of Biden’s ‘creepy’ persona. Former Nevada Lieutenant Governor candidate Lucy Flores wrote an essay revealing Biden’s weird physical encounters with women. It detailed a 2014 encounter during a campaign event with Biden when he smelled her hair and kissed the top of her head. Shortly after publication, many women came forward and shared their own uncomfortable experiences with Biden.
Since then, plenty of memes have been made joking about his age, his racially-charged anecdotes and his consistent references to his “BFF” Obama.
Since these allegations, multiple tweets and memes have been made against Biden, and no longer in favor of him. These tweets reference the infamous “Ok Boomer” meme that plagues Biden as an out of touch politician that refuses to connect to younger audiences. Some even took to Twitter to rehash the allegations against Biden, laughing at the idea that Biden believes he respects women.
SNL, famous for its mockery of politics, has portrayed Biden as this “boomer” character. In a sketch based on the DNC Town Hall, Woody Harrelson plays Biden. Harrelson sums up this idea of Biden perfectly. "I'm like plastic straws. I've been around forever, I've always worked, but now you're mad at me?"
These jokes, though rooted in serious topics, became meme-worthy on social media. Biden went from the lovable uncle Joe to the creepy uncle you avoid at Thanksgiving dinner. No matter what he does, Biden continues to inspire memes among Gen Z.
“I honestly know more about his social media presence than his policies. I feel like today, rather than being painted as the fun sidekicks, there are harsher opinions out there against him,” sophomore Dana Zamat said.