Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is a friend to public transportation. His Green New Deal plan calls for a big boost in transit spending, a network of high-speed rail, and the phasing out of internal combustion engine vehicles. He is also quite popular with young voters. According to a recent poll, 51 percent of voters aged 18–34 chose Sanders as their top Democratic candidate.
So it should come as little surprise that a very popular transit-themed meme group on Facebook called the New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens — aka NUMTOT— recently endorsed Sanders for president. What is surprising is the fact that Sanders actually responded to the endorsement.
“Thank you NUMTOT for your support of our campaign, and for all you are doing to create the lasting and fundamental change our country needs,” Sanders wrote in a post on Thursday. “Together, we are going to enact a homes guarantee, we are going to take on the fossil fuel industry to pass a Green New Deal, and we are going to invest in high-quality, affordable public transportation.”
NUMTOT co-founder and admin Juliet Eldred confirmed to Mashable that Sanders had to request to join the private group in order to post his thank you message. “I had the honor of approving the request,” Eldred told the site.
The teens are, accordingly, freaking out. Their reactions range from “i am loosing my mind” to “Daddy literally just said, ‘let’s ride’” to “We STAN A KINGGGGG.” One NUMTOT member accurately noted: “this FB group has rly escalated.”
To be sure, NUMTOT isn’t monolithic. There are Facebook groups with far more members than NUMTOT’s current roster of 180,000-plus. But the group has earned its share of national attention for its spirited debates about esoteric issues like transit lines, traffic flow, and vehicle pathing. Eldred told Mashable that she sees private Facebook groups attracting more attention from political campaigns as the social network’s main news feed becomes less coherent.
And, of course, there are the memes. “When you defeat urban car use, this is the final boss you have to face” reads the caption on a picture of an absurdly convoluted freeway interchange.
This isn’t Sanders’ first brush with transit fame. Curbed’s urbanism editor Alissa Walker helpfully reminded me of the time that Sanders was asked by the New York Daily News editorial board in 2016 to describe how he rides the subway.
“You get a token and you get in,” he replied.
Subway tokens were discontinued in 2003.