The memes that won the first presidential debates


The first debates of the 2020 presidential election were overwhelming; 20 of the 24 Democratic candidates spent four hours debating over the course of two nights. And while some of the most important issues facing the country and the world were discussed, a decent amount of tomfoolery prevailed.

There was the more typical stuff that you'd expect to see at any political debate: candidates talking over each other, intense callouts, and even non-native Spanish speakers testing out the phrase "I am running for president" in gringo accents.

But at such a crucial time, even the expected oddities of American politics seemed more extreme. There were reality-show-eqsue stare downs, public officials no one had ever heard of, a doppelganger, and most notably, the internet says, an affirmation-yielding earth goddess candidate who serves as Oprah's guru.

All the weirdness did facilitate some meaningful political discussion, but its main takeaway was fuel for internet meme machine. We might not be able to agree on a definitive winner of the first debates, but we can definitely crown the best memes.

Let's start with the best stare down:

Sen. Cory Booker and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke shared the stage on Wednesday night, to Booker's extreme dismay. Apparently, Booker was planning on flexing his Spanish skills first, so when O'Rourke did his own Spanish introduction, Booker was visibly unamused, which obviously only led to more memes.

Honestly? Booker and O'Rourke could learn a thing or two from Donald Glover's pronunciation skills.

Warren avoided any talk about her ethnic make-up (thank goodness) – but she did bring up some of her many, many, plans. The woman came prepared.

Then, there were the tethers

Most people didn't know who Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan was when he appeared on stage Wednesday night – but they did think he looked nearly identical to the man he was standing next to, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

And while those who didn't know who Tim Ryan was before the debates and probably weren't going to bother to learn after, there was another lesser known candidate who definitely piqued everyone's interest.

And yes, Oprah's guru is running for president:

There probably aren't very many people who genuinely want Marianne Williamson to be president but the internet seems absolutely delighted that she's running.

Imagine a campaign full of trust circles, deep breathing exercises, and palo santo, if you will.

With the important exception of her stance on vaccines, she's extremely relatable.

And better or worse, she's pretty different from Trump.

Her campaign promises to be full of weird surprises.

Does she have plans? Almost certainly not. Does she own a deck of tarot cards and beautiful selection of silk scarves? Almost certainly.

There was one point in the night that Williamson began to attack... New Zealand, of all places.

No one really understood her beef with New Zealand, or many of her other talking points, but she did lighten up an evening otherwise defined by extremely grim topics and convoluted bickering and for that, we're all grateful.

Happy campaigning, Marianne (and the rest of you). The meme economy is depending on you.