You know the phrase, “All politics is local”? It’s often credited to former House Speaker Tip “Don’t Call Me Shaquille” O’Neill and it’s no longer true. In the 30 years since O’Neill ran the House, the game has completely changed. Now “all politics is viral” and the 2016 presidential primaries are a constant reminder. Just look at these wacky 404 pages.
Along with the expected trappings of a primary campaign—the base-rallying speeches and baby-kissing photo ops—most of the serious candidates for the presidency (and a few of the joke candidates) have tried like hell to harness the power of web culture by creating viral content. Most have failed. And even when they’ve succeed, in the sense that they made something popular, they’ve failed, in the sense that they made something dumb.
With six months until the real primaries, we begin our power ranking of what we’re calling the Hashtag Primary, or the fight to be most on fleek candidate in race, fam.
8. Deez Nuts
Technically, Deez Nuts isn’t real — he's a 15-year-old from Wallingford, Iowa, but that he’s on our list anyway after polling at 9 percent in North Carolina. There’s just no way we could exclude a candidate whose entire existence is a viral sensation, even if he’s just a fictitious reference to a lewd, nonsensical joke. As Donald Trump has proven, lewd, nonsensical jokes have as much chance as anyone in 2016.
With that in mind, we here at Maxim took a few minutes to come up with a few campaign slogans for Candidate Nuts.
- It's Deez Nuts, Stupid
- Deez Nuts Will Make America Great Again
- Pubes We Can Believe In
- America Loves These Nuts
- Deez Nuts Don't Quit
- Not Just Deez Nuts
- Deez Nuts: Tough on Crime, Soft On The Eyes
- Deez Nuts Are Exactly What America Deserves
- It's Morning Wood Again in America
- Is Your Scrotum Better Off Than It Was Four Years Ago?
- Tippecanoe And Deez Nuts Too
- I Like Nuts
7. Jeb Bush
Early in the primary season, the dynastic one is trying with all his might to shirk the buttoned-up and boring label that’s got people comparing him to Mitt Romney. Among his efforts are the hashtag, #JebNoFilter that’s slapped on videos of him talking about things like his worst father’s day present. He announced his Super PAC, Right to Rise, with a two grainy Instagram videos filmed while he was walking down the street. No polish and no production. He’s just like you, taking iPhone videos that announce his presidential PAC, talking about Sharknado and trying on hoodies. LOL.
Unlike other candidates who tweet when they’ve got a message to get out there, Bush is really engaging people on Twitter. The most ridiculous example is his Tweet in late July encouraging people to watch a Vine in which a man promises to get a “Jeb 4 Prez” tattoo after it reaches a million views. It did and the guy followed through (or maybe it’s just a hoax).
Bush’s thirst for
really shines though in a couple videos that show a graffiti artist covering the side of a shipping container and a concrete wall with the former Florida governor’s name. How edgy! And how off brand. As one
wrote, “Get lost
! and take you
'artist' with you.”
6. Ted Cruz
When it comes to pathetic attempts to pander to internet youths, it doesn’t get any worse than Ted Cruz firing a machine gun with bacon wrapped around it. Produced by the people at conservative Buzzfeed IJReview, this video is such a desperate ploy for attention that it almost makes you feel bad for Cruz. But then you see it’s not the first time he’s done something like this—here he is doing the world's worst Simpsons voices for Buzzfeed—and you realize that this guy has the self-awareness of a bumper sticker.
Along with the videos, Cruz is trying to make a couple hashtags happen, but it’s a good bet most people are thinking of Penelope when they come across #CruzCountry and #CruzCrew. In fact, the Cruz-related hashtag that’s gotten the most play is #WomenForCruz, which is slapped on pictures of young women saying things like, “I’ve never considered myself capable of making my own decisions. With Ted, I’ll never have to.”
5. Hillary Clinton
The chosen Democrat has stayed mostly above the fray while Republicans vie for viral supremacy. That’s the advantage she has as the presumptive nominee. But Clinton’s lack of engagement makes her occasional forays into internet goofiness seem all the more forced. Ted Cruz might be a dork, but at least he’s committed to it.
Take the above Vine, in which Clinton appears with a beer koozie and says, “I’m just chillin in Cedar Rapids.” Not only is the kookie emblazoned with goofy webspeak—we’re all done with amirite, amirite?—but the look of discomfort on her face is makes it look like someone just showed her Goatse.
4. Ben Carson
He’s a doctor and in this video he’s playing the game Operation. Sure, the guy’s as dull as a 13-year-old scalpel, but it’s an amusing idea and at least he’s not doing it while getting a tattoo of Grumpy Cat.
4. Rand Paul
Long before keyboard activists were feeling the Bern, they were standing with Rand. Paul probably has more of a natural relationship with the internet than anyone else running for president, in part because he seems to understand it better. Paul is, for a 50-year-old white doctor from Kentucky, pretty hip to the ‘net. Hell, he’s done an interview on SnapChat and taken out Google ads on his opponent's names. He’s Tweeted memes during the State of the Union and he sells a t-shirt in his official store that says, “Don’t drone me, bro.”
It’s all very with-it, nothing like his fellow candidates corny attempts to look outrageous by, say, throwing the tax code into a wood chipper. Oh wait, that was Paul. In the video below he goes to great lengths to destroy the tax code in what we’re sure he imagined was an “epic” stunt. Problem is, he’s got his t-shirt tucked into his jeans. So any cred gained is immediately lost.
2. Lindsey Graham
South Carolina’s senior Senator is the most interesting candidate that no one cares about. Not only is he one of the few who’s taken on Trump, but he’s actually produced the only amusing “viral” video of the campaign season, destroying his flip phone with glee after Trump doxxed him during a speech.
This week, Graham went on the offensive, with this emoji-laden guide to watching the “Trump Debacle” (the word “debate” was scratched out). Graham isn’t long for this race, but he seems intent on providing some of the more engaging “content” while he’s around.
1. Donald Trump
Trump’s entire campaign is about virility. He always been in this for the PR boost. There’s not a chance a guy so obsessed with his net worth would stoop so low as to work a gig for $400,000/year, even if it means being the leader of the free world.
That said, Trump has steered remarkably clear of the intentional appeals to web culture. The unintentional though? Boy oh boy. For starters, there’s that stupid hat he’s been wearing everywhere, which seems tailor-made for photoshop fun. Here’s Bloomberg’s attempt. Before the hat, there was the escalator ride to his announcement—so odd, so ripe for mockery. And sure enough, "The Simpsons” responded with this.
More generally though, every one of Trump’s soundbites seems designed for Vine. And his insults are so stupidly entertaining that two different websites, Time and Mother Jones, have rolled out Trump insult generators in the past month. Last week Josh Groban sang some of Trump’s dumbest tweets on Jimmy Kimmel Live.