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The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

There is Still Hope in This Election, And He Wears a Red Sweater


This year’s election cycle can be described as ridiculous to most and despicable to some. The American people are completely and utterly exhausted when it comes to politics. We have a scandalous and eccentric billionaire on one side, and a corrupt career politician on the other. Insults are constantly being lobbed from both sides, hateful rhetoric and negativity is rampant, simple disagreements turn into intense fights driving the country’s divide even further. Tensions are considerably high, and with Election Day soon appearing on the horizon, the country is preparing to either sound a collective sigh of relief, or claim complete doom, depending on the outcome.

“There has to be another way,” many people might think. “There has to be someone to help us forget for awhile.”

And on Sunday, Oct. 9 during the Presidential Town Hall Debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, America found that man: Ken Bone.


He’s the most lovable and charming undecided voter to ever don a cozy red sweater and pose a question to two presidential candidates. The moment the cameras panned over to Ken as he stood up and spoke his question, something happened: America listened. The nation instantly fell in love, and couldn’t get enough of the guy. Bone became the next best internet sensation and living meme. Within minutes of his appearance, the internet was in love. By the next day, there was hardly a newspaper or news outlet that wasn’t commenting on that goofy debate goer in the red sweater that had become America’s newest sensation.

For some reason people latched on to him. The tweets, the pictures, and the memes started rolling in. And it was hilarious. Something about Ken gave us a chance to breathe and forget about the negativity that had been rampant in the debate the nation had just watched. People wanted to hear what he had to say, people wanted to interview him, people just wanted a distraction.

Ken went from a measly seven twitter followers on the day of the debate to an astounding 250,000 as of Oct. 30. He’s been interviewed by the best, from CNN to Jimmy Kimmel. He even shot a hilarious and inspiring commercial for IZOD entitled “Ken Bone’s Fifteenth Minute.” The guy couldn’t be more lovable. The public became obsessed with peering into the life of a simple undecided voter, and Ken completely embraced it.

But why? It wasn’t his question, a fairly unremarkable and run of the mill one concerning energy policy. It wasn’t even the candidate’s answers to the question, which again, were run of the mill. Was it his general goofy and likable look, with the glasses that are too small for his face and well-kept mustache? Was it his innocent snapping of a picture of the debate on a disposable camera? The interesting name? The sweater?

It most certainly has to do with all of these things, but there’s still something missing. Like most internet memes that go viral, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made Ken Bone stick.

“My mustache and my sweater are probably my claims to fame. I try to be a friendly guy and shake hands and smile and all that,” Bone said in an interview with the Washington Post. “And to see me try to be that huggable, likeable guy in the middle of a really nasty and divisive debate, I think, stood out to a lot of people.”

Sure, his goofiness is what caught national attention, but there’s something more. Ever since stepping into the national spotlight, he’s represented something so genuine and honest: he’s just a regular guy. He’s just one goofy looking and loveable guy who decided to participate in this important process by asking a simple question.

With two gigantic egos constantly front and center, a regular guy like Ken being randomly thrust into the limelight is beyond refreshing and relieving. He’s soft spoken, he’s honest, and he’s an all-around nice guy. He represents the Average Joe. He represents a hope that in the end, after all of this division and nastiness, we’ll all just come together as Americans. His gratefulness and good attitude toward his newfound popularity is extremely sken-bone-voteatisfying.

Ken’s taken it upon himself to use his popularity as America’s No. 1 undecided voter to motivate people to be involved in the political process, and to promote a charity for the homeless. For that alone, he’s truly a standout hero in the election. He tweets about it constantly, he reiterates the importance of being involved every time he’s interviewed, and he brings a much welcomed normalcy to an otherwise irregular election.

The fact that it’s all coming from a regular guy who’s trying to make an important decision makes all the difference. He is simply participating in one of the most important privileges we have as American citizens: voting for president. If one regular guy can randomly effect change, we all can. We just need to vote.

But of course, someone always has to ruin it. While people praised him, others searched for any dirt on him. On Oct. 14, Ken decided to do a Reddit Ask Me Anything where the people of the internet could ask him questions about his life and his popularity.

Some couldn’t just leave it at that. They scoured through his account history looking for anything that made him seem less than a saint. This is why America can’t have nice things. Because someone will always try to ruin it.

Of course since he’s just a normal guy and not Jesus Christ, they obviously did find dirt. Some having to do with porn, some having to do with the Trayvon Martin shooting, some having to do with more personal things.

In response, the New York Post wrote an article entitled “Ken Bone is Actually Kind of an Awful Guy. He’s an awful guy for expressing his opinion and having less than pure quirks? You mean like a human being? For media outlets to demonize him for not being as holy as the Pope himself is ridiculous.

He didn’t ask for this fame, and he didn’t want it. He was just being a normal person, and like any normal person he has some vices. He’s not running for president, he’s not claiming to be better than anybody else, and he doesn’t deserve such blatant invasion of privacy. He’s just using his spotlight for a good cause. Let the guy have his moment.

One of the most outrageous acts of demonization came from the site Gizmodo. In an “outstanding” act of journalism, Gizmodo accused Bone of calling a rape victim “disgusting” in a comment on a Reddit post from a victim of sexual abuse. As a matter of fact, his actual comment was a beautiful show of support for the woman calling the attacker disgusting.

“Nothing that happens to you can make you disgusting. You are no less valuable for having suffered at the hands of a monster. Actions make a person disgusting. Your attacker is disgusting, as in the thought of such an awful person disgusts me. Our words can make us disgusting. Your ex is disgusting. Blaming a victim or assigning a woman value based on how “used” she is will never be anything but disgusting. Your value has not changed due his words, or any assault you have endured. You are still valuable.”

What kind of self-proclaimed journalist reads that beautiful statement of support and spins it in such a way? Thankfully Gizmodo has deleted the blatantly false accusation from the article, but it still stings to know that they tried to deface such a good guy in the first place.

Ken may not be a saint, but nobody is. He didn’t ask to be thrown into the spotlight. He didn’t ask for his entire private life to become public record, but he’s taken it in stride regardless. Ken’s given us a chance to escape the negativity of the election and to relax and have fun with a goofy guy in a red sweater. All he wanted was to be involved in the political process. All he’s been doing since the debate is promote involvement in the political process.

As a matter of fact, he has recently come to his decision on who he plans on voting for, but the world’s most famous previously-undecided voter still won’t let us know.

“I want the discussion to be about debating the issues and getting out the vote,” Ken said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. “As soon as people know who I voted for, then I’m afraid that goes away. I can’t do any good that way.”

Whether “He’s With Her” or wants to “Make America Great Again” or even vote third party makes no difference. He’s exercised his right. He’s doing his duty as an American, like we all should. He’s done much more than just simply being a goofy guy.

Ken Bone’s 15 minutes of fame may be fading, but his words from the quite inspirational IZOD commercial shouldn’t. “I am not a politician, I’m just a man with a positive message. You just never give up hope. It’s really important that we don’t give up on the political process. I really do expect that at the end of the election that [the negativity] winds down. And when it’s over, it’s over, and I’m happy to have played my role.”

And that is how a chubby guy with a mustache and red sweater made his mark in the 2016 election, and restored a bit of hope.


Pictures courtesy of @kenbone18 on Twitter

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There is Still Hope in This Election, And He Wears a Red Sweater