Professionalism trumps memes

Bernard Chen, Editor-in-Chief

To many, the 2016 presidential election has been nothing more than a television reality show. Since when have we had candidates’ mudslinging with a 140 character limit, leveraging their own campaigns with cartoon memes, or calling one another out on national television for having small hands and similarly immature taunts?

Mudslinging has been in American culture for as long as we’ve had presidential elections, but the country has seemed to hit a new low in the 2016 election. It all began with the GOP candidates contending for the nomination. In March, the anti-Trump super PAC, Make America Awesome, attacked Donald Trump’s wife, picturing a promiscuously dressed Melania Trump and encouraging voters to vote for presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. Later, Trump accused Cruz’s father of involvement in the John Kennedy assassination.

That same month, previous candidate Marco Rubio made fun of Trump’s hands forcing Trump to defend himself during a Republican primary debate.

Here we are, just barely a month away from Election Day, and both the Republican and Democratic nominees are head to head regarding Pepe the frog, which I considered nothing more than a playful and humorous internet meme until the candidates said otherwise. How did a humorous cartoon character from artist Matt Furie’s comic “Boy’s Cub,” became categorized as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League?

The use of Pepe as a hate symbol is largely fueled by Trump’s own campaign and his supporters. Just last month, Hillary’s campaign published an explainer on Pepe as a hate symbol. With followers of Hillary calling the Trump campaign deplorable and followers of Trump protesting “crooked Hillary,” the use of memes in a campaign for president of the United States is simply tasteless.

We live in a day and age where social media drives much of the political conversation, but in reality the presidential nominees should not be using such tawdry references to propel their own agendas forward. This is a presidential election, not some high school class election.

Then came Donald Trump Jr.’s comparison of Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles, fearing that a few “would kill you.” Trump Jr., serving as one of the top advisors in his father’s campaign, drew condemnation from the country, and rightly so. Comparing Syrian refugees to Skittles? This has to be a joke.

We’ve been forced to face the reality of a Trump presidency, which has been a joke since the beginning. Mudslinging has been around for a while, including attacking the other’s spouse as did Trump this month, but with the vastly less traditional and trivial matters of this election, professionalism has definitely gone out the window for votes.

The 2016 presidential election has been an elaborate show from the start. While memes can be entertaining, what each candidate has to say on the real issues is much more important. Set aside what’s not.