In last June’s Air Force Academy graduation ceremony video, Joe Biden sported a navy suit and a blue ball cap. He shook the hand of a smiling cadet before taking a tumble on his way back to his seat. “There are just too many clips of this man falling. I genuinely feel bad for him. Falling like this at his age is very serious,” one commenter said on the TikTok account of NBC News, where a video of the incident has been viewed 2.5 million times. Brendon Leslie, a conservative media personality, tweeted a photo of Biden being helped up with the caption, “The state of America in one picture.”
Biden, who is eighty-one, has had several public incidents involving falls. The New York Post aggregated memes after the President stumbled while boarding Air Force One in March 2021. Later, in June 2022, Biden fell off his bike near his vacation home in Delaware. His struggles with steps have become a major concern, prompting his team to find a shorter set of stairs for him to use when entering and exiting Air Force One. However, the White House has dismissed these incidents as distractions from more pressing issues. Polls consistently show that a large majority of Americans think Biden is too old to be effective for another term in office.
As Biden’s low favorability continues, it seems that the 2024 election will be influenced by the prevalence of humorous videos on social media. During his tenure as Vice-President, Biden enjoyed friendly memes portraying him as an authentic and plainspoken figure. However, since running against Trump in 2020, the Biden memes have taken a negative turn. Conservative media, led by figures like Ben Shapiro and Steven Crowder, have solidified the perception that Biden’s faculties are seriously diminished. Meanwhile, Trump’s own caricature has been embraced by his supporters, even prompting him to sell T-shirts with his mug shot. Despite being only four years younger than Biden, Trump’s bluster has warded off accusations of senility.
As the 2024 campaign unfolds, the prevalence of memes and social media consumption of news will greatly shape public opinion. With Trump embroiled in legal battles and Biden’s team aiming to limit public appearances, it’s clear that the role of social media in influencing public attitudes towards the candidates will be significant.