Campaign merchandise is inherently corny. Sometimes, though, corny is exactly what’s called for.
The Biden campaign introduced the “Truth Over Flies” fly swatter into their campaign store mere hours after the vice presidential debate, during which a fly sat on Vice President Mike Pence’s head for more than two minutes. It immediately had social media buzzing (sorry) with jokes and memes. The metaphors were so perfect that people couldn’t decide which one was better—was Pence the devil, a reanimated corpse filled with flies, or a pile of shit? Did the fly represent the rotting carcass of the Trump administration or the decrepit regressive worldview Pence and evangelicals thrust onto Americans? The answer to all these, and more, is yes.
The fly on Pence's head was the perfect symbol of the moral and spiritual rot eating away at Pence's core as he offered those smarmy apologetics for Trump's racism and active encouragement of white supremacy.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) October 8, 2020
— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) October 8, 2020
Pence spent most of the night dodging questions while Harris hit him hard on key issues like the pandemic and climate change. It was a fairly substantive debate, even with the sidestepping. But once that fly landed on Pence’s snow white dome it was effectively over. Broadcasters could’ve cut the feed and called it a night. Nobody but true political nerds will remember anything that Harris or Pence said more than a few days from now, but the fly will live on forever.
The fly was perhaps the greatest proof that this debate, unlike last week’s, was “normal.” Sure, there was plexiglass and a little extra space between the two candidates, but it was far less chaotic—the kind of thing you could settle into and play in the background while scrolling your phone. It was so normal, in fact, that all it took was a comedically placed bug to distract from just about everything that was said.
Not long after the fly incident, Pence echoed Donald Trump’s failure to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of an election loss. A few people pointed this out on Twitter, but that and other wild assertions got lost in the swarm (again, sorry) of fly memes. Faced with democratic destruction, burning plains, and a deadly plague, it’s still only the dumbest, most trivial things that cut through American politics and make people feel normal again. That feeling is what Joe Biden’s been selling from the jump, and now there’s a fly swatter to prove it.