A private Facebook group created a little over two weeks is rallying its more than 1.3 million members to wear the Democratic presidential candidate’ signature look — a pantsuit — on Election Day.
A fact sheet provided to media by the creators of the group, Pantsuit Nation, explains that a movement to wear pantsuits “seemed like a fit.”
Now that its membership has ballooned, the community has evolved from a place to coordinate Election Day attire into a place where members (of all genders and political parties, according to founder Libby Chamberlain) not only rave about their chosen candidate, but also provide moral support each to other in the face of what many feel is a hugely stressful run-up to voting day.
“We share stories about our grandparents, our children, and our families,” Chamberlain said. “We support each other during this highly contentious election season and have created a refuge from the vitriol that is sweeping the nation.” Administrators encourage members to adhere to the “go high” mantra made famous by first lady Michelle Obama, and so far, she says, “the response has been astounding.”
It takes a lot of work to keep things light, though. First, the group is set to “secret,” meaning members must be invited to join by another member. The idea is to make admission tougher for Clinton critics who might harass other members or start debates. Those who make it in are encouraged to focus on “positive, personal” posts, and moderators won’t approve rule-breakers. They’re also quick to delete negative comments about either candidate.
The enthusiasm, despite these restrictions, is telling. It’s a highly curated oasis of positivity that stands in stark contrast to the mood of political season where half of Americans say the election is a “very or somewhat important source of stress” in their lives. Teachers report that kids are scared and hostile, and stories of relationships fractured over politics abound.
The result is exactly the social media community that many Clinton supporters say they have been craving. In the thousands of posts and comments in the group, members rave not only about their enthusiasm for her, but about being inspired by the community, and finally having a place to post where they won’t have to debate or be harassed or criticized by friends and family.
Those who worry about Facebook’s tendency to drive political polarization probably wouldn’t be thrilled about a place where only positive comments about a candidate are tolerated. But the strict rules and noticeable absence of debate don’t seem to bother members. Pantsuit Nation organizers have encouraged supporters to donate to the campaign, so far raising $140,000 for Clinton as of Sunday evening.
Despite the way the group has evolved beyond its original purpose, the plan to dress like the candidate is still on, Chamberlain says.
Racked has an exhaustive timeline of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and a list of seven last-minute pantsuits to buy now, if anyone’s looking for inspiration.