By Morgan Sung
Bernie Sanders thanked “New Urbanist Memes for Transit Oriented Teens” for its endorsement of his 2020 presidential campaign. And yes, he did have to request to join the group.
The Facebook group, also known as NUMTOT, has 179,613 members who aren’t only public transportation enthusiasts, but also actively campaign for more accessible, affordable infrastructure. NUMTOT content is a blend of urban planning memes, absurd internet humor, and a socialist passion for dismantling the car industry.
It’s only fitting that the group’s administrators formally endorsed Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, noting that his proposed nationwide affordable housing initiatives and promise to invest in public transportation particularly aligns with core NUMTOT values.
“These policies, amongst many others, would have a transformative impact on our cities,” the NUMTOT administrative board wrote in a statement posted to the group. “They will bring us closer to building equitable, affordable, and sustainable places in which we can all not only live, but thrive.”
Sanders posted his appreciation for the endorsement directly to the group on Thursday.
“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,” the candidate said. He reaffirmed his promise to “take on the fossil fuel industry” and encouraged NUMTOT members to volunteer for his campaign.
NUMTOT co-founder and admin Juliet Eldred confirmed that the Vermont senator did have to request to join the group. In a Twitter DM to Mashable, she explained that a college acquaintance who worked for Sanders’ campaign gave her a heads-up that Sanders planned to post a thank you note.
“I had the honor of approving the request,” Eldred said.
Eldred noted that it’s not the first time a candidate has posted in the group — NUMTOT admins will regularly approve local and state candidates’ requests to join as long as their platforms are relevant to the group’s theme.
As Facebook users stray away from checking their Newsfeeds in favor of engaging with groups that align with specific interests, Eldred believes that candidates will start using closed groups as campaigning platforms, rather than Facebook as a whole.
“They can almost certainly get more engagement/reactions/etc through groups than through Pages themselves because of how the algorithms work,” Eldred said in a Twitter DM. “It seems like Pages don’t get that many likes/comments/etc unless you pay to promote it.”
And it appears that socialist public transportation groups is where that all starts.