How jokes won the election

Originally published at:


apparently 4chan is his personal army.


For every person who was fooled into voting for Trump because they thought a “serious businessman should run the country, a guy who’s honest and a straight shooter who’ll drain the swamp”, there’s someone who’s well aware of what a douchy charlatan the guy’s been for decades but thought having a troll/clown/meme in charge would be entertaining.


I know a joke won the election.

I’m just not laughing though



Grammar quibble: headline should read, “How a Joke Won the Election.”


I’m not sure there are that many trolls in this country, even if their online presence would indicate that.

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I don’t even mean 4chan Pepe-loving trolls who voted for him for the lulz. I just mean average people who don’t give a fig about politics and are actively turned off by debates and mudslinging, who looked at the two candidates and thought “Well, I bet the news’ll be more entertaining with Trump as President, heck, he was fun to watch on The Apprentice.”


I still consider them trolls, or just assholes - which certainly played a role in this election, but not as much as being online might indicate. (Including the dynamic of people trying to cover their idiocy by pretending it was a trolling effort.) I think there were more political nihilists - people who knew he was bad, thought he would break the system, but had convinced themselves they had nothing to lose and/or were so frustrated with politics as usual they didn’t care.


Hate to say it, but I think you’re right… to some extent. Very early in the primary process, a young person I know said, "I think he’s funny…"
It’s the same kind of “funny” that makes people laugh at mishap videos and clumsiness and injuries, but you can’t deny, that’s a form of humor. Banana peels and all that.
Humor changes over time. In a great book, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds,” it is described how it once used to be incredibly funny to torture and kill stray cats.
I know, horrible.


Yep. Entertaining… but in a Greek Tragedy sort of way.


It’s so funny I forgot to laugh.


This American Life episode, act one featuring the people being the trolling meme culture. This election was fun for them.

Goes along nicely with this article.

Also reonforces some of the attitude I see with the pro trumps. Many are excited, but there is also a common “haha, i got you!” type of school yard bully mentality. It feels like they were excited just to take a swing at someone, and didnt really care about the consequences.


Jokes made it harder than it had been previously, sure.

But again, and I want to keep driving this home: what really lost the election was not paying enough attention to 3 midwestern states.

A lot of other smaller things had effects besides that, such as the Wikileaks / likely Russian connection, and the deliberate FBI FUD didn’t help. Also Stein and Johnson once again Nadering the Democrat in swing states, and blatant voter suppression in the South that the Democrats didn’t call attention to nearly enough in my opinion.

But all of that would have failed if the Democrats didn’t just put more attention to make sure that line held in the Midwest. Detroit’s votes could have gotten Michigan alone.


Their humor always has a sadistic edge that makes it waaay too easy to picture them burning down your house and laughing at you while you try to protect your family.


It’s easy for the right wingers to joke because they are authoritarians that simply want to humiliate. That elements on the left have embraced a simaliar attitude is a scandal.

Maybe John Oliver and Samantha Bee’s grand strategy of layering dick jokes between the sentences of investigative articles written and researched by anybody but themselves isn’t gunna get the extra 16k votes needed win Michigan. Knock on doors perhaps? Actually do things?

Because the left felt its future rise was inevitable (demographics, changing attitudes) it became complacent while awaiting change to just naturally occur. They got diverted by asshole trolls in the process and lost big time.



While it was undoubtedly a mistake not to pay more attention to them, it’s questionable whether paying more attention actually would have won her the election. After all, she did plenty of campaigning in Pennsylvania, and still lost that.

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The low, low margins that she lost by indicate to me she could have won them. Just a few more of those registered Democrats even bothering to vote would have been enough.

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I’m glad she mentioned The Waldo Moment from Black Mirror, but I can’t recommend Look Who’s Back enough. The premise is that Hitler is magically transported to the 21st century, where he resumes his plans for world domination. People assume he’s a comedian, and that gives him the platform he needs for people to start taking him seriously. As part of the movie, they interview ordinary people in character to get them to show just how receptive they are to fascism, even when it’s not pretending to be anything else.

As for the nihilism presented in The Waldo Moment, it’s difficult because it makes you the butt of a joke for professing any type of belief, principle or—God forbid—empathy. Any display of emotion is equivalent to you losing your shit. Terms like “social justice warrior” carry the implication that you either accept things as they are, or you’re a shrill basket case. As long as you pretend that you’re to smart to believe in anything, it’s easy to cut people down who are—you can always attack, because you have no territory of your own to defend. I’m not sure how go about trolling the trolls, but it may be that they’ve set themselves up for it by electing a thin-skinned village idiot to represent themselves.

In a larger sense, though, I can’t help thinking that this is really a symptom of the deeper narcissism and self-involvement that social media and Madison Avenue have been feeding into our culture. Look at some Victorian periodicals sometime. Look at the poetry, the unabashed romanticism and sentimentality. There used to be a time when people didn’t snicker at you for being genuine.


Yes, and I’m seeing some of them still trying to stick with “Ha ha!” as the magnitude of their mistake is starting to dawn. It has only been 4 days, but as Trump has yet to be magically transformed into a worthy leader by being in the White House the “Ha ha!” seems to be working less and less to make them feel good.