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The memes of the 2018 midterm elections reflect a feeling of urgency and determination

This year the memes are all about the importance of voting.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

American citizens across the country have spent the past few months stressing endlessly to one another how important the 2018 midterm elections are.

Not only are the results crucial, but with the public fearing ballot-hacking, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the possibility of all these things working together to diminish the idea of the popular vote, there’s been an especially intense emphasis on convincing people to get themselves to the polls in overwhelming numbers, in hopes of overriding all these fears with sheer population.

And with so much pressure in effect, it’s inevitable that some of our election energy has manifested itself in the form of memes.

Voting memes are out in full force on social media — many of them rife with pop culture references — as people rely on a range of real and fictional heroes to remind their friends and followers to do their civic duty and head to the polls.

The mood of the country may be divided and anxious, but that doesn’t mean we can’t unite around a common theme: using memes to express ourselves.

As you wend your way to the ballot box, take a moment to appreciate how several different types of memes are all emphasizing how important it is to vote.

People are using pop culture to urge each other to vote

What’s that? You need extra enticement to vote this year? Let a large range of pop culture icons help you with that!

Real-life heroes have also been pressed into service:

A viral tweet from last year has even made the rounds once again with new urgency:

Lots of folks are expressing how differently they feel about this election than they did in 2016

The “me then versus me now” meme has been floating around for the past few years, usually manifesting at the end of the year to express how jaded the populace feels after living through 2015. And 2016. And 2017. The time-lapse element in the current Election Day context, however, highlights just how much truly has changed between November 2016 and November 2018.

You might have noticed a distinct shift in the mood of the general population — especially those aligned with the political left — between then and now. For some, that shift presents as a palpable swing away from youthful optimism and toward the cynical, jaded, world-weary determination of an aged oracle with a thousand-yard-stare.

And that’s where the 2018 midterms version of the “me then versus me now” meme comes in:

Oh, and here’s a Jaws version of the “me then versus me now” meme, just to, er, drive the point home:

Drive and determination are a recurring theme

You might have also noticed that many people have expressed a sense of overwhelming determination to make it to the polls this year at all costs. What better way to express that feeling than through images of people gritting their teeth and forging toward their polling place?

One 2018 Election Day winner has already delivered promising results

Elsewhere, in something of an odd Election Day coincidence, the internet’s reigning king of sexiness, Idris Elba, has been named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2018 after last year’s winner, Blake Shelton, took the crown amid a swirl of social media backlash.

If you feel like this event expresses something about the current zeitgeist, you’re not alone:

But no matter his feelings on current US politics and how his Sexiest Man Alive title might be interpreted by the American electorate, Elba, who is British, took the opportunity to leverage his moment to advocate for making voting a priority:

What will tonight’s results hold? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain: We’ll be expressing our reactions to them tomorrow in memes.

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