On Monday, ProPublica journalist Derek Willis drew attention to an interesting, if comparatively small, bit of campaign spending:
On August 14, AlternativePAC, which supports Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, made a $30,000 payment to Treehorn, LLC earmarked for "internet web memes."
This figures, since other candidates have had good luck having their social media teams trot out well-known memes. Remember Hillary Clinton's "Delete Your Account" tweet? How about Trump's thinly veiled use of anti-semitic memes? Of course Gary Johnson('s Super PACs) want in on the action.
But AlternativePAC barely has the social media infrastructure to distribute the memes. As of this writing, the PAC's Twitter account (bio: "Don't settle for the lesser of two evils. #VoteLibertarian) has 29 Twitter followers and has yet to even tweet. The committee's Facebook page fares slightly better with 284 followers, and has already shared one item that ostensibly meets internet web meme status: a video pointing out Johnson's support of legalizing marijuana, and contrasting the drug's status with the legality of alcohol.
This barely registers as a meme, which, really, is fine with me. Maybe this means we can finally stop using meme as a catchall term for 'thing posted online.'
However, Reason has come to the rescue, talking to AlternativePAC's Matt Kibbe, who told the libertarian magazine's Hit & Run blog that two other meme-like posts do exist on the committee's website, both videos like the one posted to Facebook. The idea, Kibbe told Reason, is to "leverage social media and make sure would-be libertarians in social space know Gary Johnson is on the ballot and understand what libertarianism is about. It doesn't make any sense to run TV ads to connect to that audience."
So far the alleged memes do appear to have been particularly ~dank~, focusing on cool libertarian ideas like the legalization of weed and avoiding war. But will AlternativePAC also be pointing out that the Libertarian Party's platform calls for (among other things) an end to social security, the rollback of union rights, the idea that "education is best provided by the free market"? Will they mention leaving education to the free market has a nasty habit of also creating discrimination?
Stay tuned to find out!
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org