For years, the trope on social media has been "the left can't meme." The right, especially the alt-right and the 4-chan right, have been a relentless band of merry pranksters on the internet for ten years or more, mercilessly lampooning every aspect of the left. Meanwhile, the left, for its part, has been unable to counter the attacks because the left's memes are lame.
The typical right-leaning meme shows some sort of pop culture artifact which, when combined with a real and actual position held by left-leaning people, combines to make a funny joke that is universally understood. The typical left-leaning meme, by contrast, usually shows a picture of someone who is angry, accompanied by some words about how dumb or infuriating the right is. It's not clear that the latter example really is a joke. It's just a photo attached to a short rant. It's lame. That's why the left can't meme.
Or, at least, that's why I thought the left couldn't meme. I thought the people creating these memes basically had such bad senses of humor that they couldn't make an effective joke at the right's expense. And perhaps that is still true of many left-leaning memers.
In the last 48 hours, however, the left's ability to meme has blossomed in the wake of the weird thing that happened at the Capitol building. For the first time in my life, I'm seeing some genuinely funny left-leaning memes lampooning the right quite effectively.
What changed? Here's a theory:
For decades, the left have been staging protests and attendant photo ops, and these events have been full of, well, clowns. Leftist protests for many, many years have been filled with fringe characters sporting weird clothes, dreadlocks, piercings, and costumes. The events have been attended by people doing drugs and playing with juggling sticks. It's been close to a literal circus every time the left has shown up to protest something. Any photo from such an event is a meme in the making. It's impossible to take such people seriously because it is almost as if they don't take themselves seriously.
Right-leaning protests, by contrast, have been full of people wearing either leather or blue jeans and sporting American flags, but beyond that, they look pretty much like the people you see at the local gas station. We might criticize their ideas, their grammar, or etc., but a photograph of these people hasn't in the past been an easy laugh.
So, there has always been that difference between the left and the right.
But not anymore.
When Trump's clown circus stormed the capitol building, they looked every bit as ridiculous as the left has looked whenever they showed up to protest. Wearing face paint and buffalo skins, grinning like fools, and prancing around like circus performers, these rightist protestors made absolute idiots of themselves, and everybody knows it.
That fact is now well-established in leftist memes. The left can finally use actual photos of actual rightist idiots to refer to commonly understood cultural events, and the left can give it to the right good and hard. Best of all, the right brought all this upon themselves, and they deserve it.
Truthfully, I don't know what the future holds for conservatism or Republicanism in America. I honestly don't see how the Republicans can recover from such a total self-destruction. What serious person is going to continue to stand behind such a clown show?