The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election took place on Tuesday night. Meme-worthy moments were constant even before the candidates took the stage. The GOP went live with five articles that should've been posted well after Mike Pence and Tim Kaine had wrapped up their remarks at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. And in between screenshots from the Republican party's website, voters were crafting Mike Pence debate memes that called out his hyper-conservative record and incendiary remarks.
The Indiana governor was tapped by Republican nominee Donald Trump as his running mate in July. Citing his ability to unify the GOP, Trump praised Pence's fiscal record, ability to balance the state budget, and drive jobs into Indiana. He's said little about how Pence responds to social issues, such as LGBT rights, immigration, and women's rights, however.
As it turns out, Pence is a terrible advocate for underserved communities. As a congressman, he twice voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009 that's meant to rectify compensation inequalities. And it's Pence's signing of Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that first thrust him into the national spotlight. The legislation allows those with anti-LGBT religious beliefs to choose not to perform services for them. Needless to say, social media users were at the ready to mock Pence's dangerous politics.
Pence's record on immigration was similarly lampooned. The vice presidential nominee has motioned to declare English as the United States' official language and is strongly against amnesty, taking a hard stance against allowing refugees into the country as well as undocumented workers — all positions that are the polar opposite of the Democrat Kaine. Kaine's significant experiences in Latin America, his fluency in Spanish, and his welcoming attitude towards Syrian refugees made him primed to trade barbs against Pence during the debate, as moderator Elaine Quijano quizzed the two on immigration reform and the Syrian refugee crisis.
There were quite a few memes that erred on the more innocuous side, mocking Pence's wholesome image and many doppelgängers. Juxtaposing Pence with rapper Eminem proved just as hilarious as The Washington Post's own meme efforts. As part of a quiz on the two vice presidential candidates, both Pence and Kaine's faces were morphed together like a Snapchat face swap gone wrong.
Both candidates have also been widely mocked for being more of the same in terms of having yet another older, Caucasian man tapped for higher office. Despite the history-making election, in which Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated by a major party for president, both vice presidential nominations are sorely lacking in representation. Memes featuring stock photos of generic white men were everywhere on Tuesday night, as were comparisons to Twitter trolls and negative social dynamics like mansplaining and being domineering in conversation.
If anything, the vice presidential debate lent itself far better to memes than the first presidential debate. The undisputed king of those hilarious macros? Why, Mike Pence, of course.