MetaFilter's site and server can always use upgrades of hardware, software, and bandwidth, as well as more stable funding for continued support of its small but high-skilled moderation and backend team! If you'd like to chip in, you can donate to Metafilter.

U.S. Politics Thread Reference

From Mefi Wiki
(Redirected from ElectionThreadReference)
Jump to navigationJump to search

The 2016 U.S. election (tagged election2016) and 2017 U.S. politics (tagged potus45) posts, amid their many thousands of comments, have inspired a range of new in-jokes, references, and tropes. As new Mefites join the threads, some of these may be bewildering, strange, or just plain unfunny. This page helps chronicle them to help make U.S. politics threads a little more comprehensible.

Note: This page was created during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. If you'd like to view the election version of the page, you can see it at Archived 2016 Election Thread Reference. This page was revived in August 2017 by whitewall. See the MetaTalk discussion about this page.

On July 23, 2019, cortex announced that Metafilter would be Decommissioning the US politics megathreads, and Rhaomi compiled Political Megathreads on MetaFilter: A Retrospective, a chronological listing of all posts tagged with "election2016" or "potus45" with 500+ comments, from Clinton declaring her run in April 2015 to the most recent round-up post. All data courtesy of the awesome MeFi Infodumpster.

Pro Tips

  • Classic/Plain theme: Device/browser lagging horribly on a 4,000 comment thread? Switching to the classic or plain theme in your user preferences may make it somewhat more usable.
    • Mobile performance on Android: On Android, Firefox seems to handle gigantic MetaFilter threads a bit better than Chrome. (Changing browsers on iOS doesn't matter because it's all Safari under the hood.)
  • My MeFi: The often-overlooked My MeFi tab on the front page will let you use tags to follow FPPs that particularly interest you. "potus45" is the common tag for covering the Trump Administration.
  • Open links in new windows: Avoiding clicking on links in super-long threads because you'll have to reload afterwards? Go to your Preferences and tick the third checkbox, 'Open links in new windows'.
  • Private Browsing: Many news sites that are frequently linked from election threads use cookies to limit how many articles can be read in a month. Users can bypass the limit by opening links in a new private browsing window (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+P in Firefox, Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+N in Chrome, Cmd+Shift+N in Safari).
  • Time stamps: Clicking on the time stamp of a comment updates your position in the thread to that comment. Especially useful on mobile devices that frequently reload pages (e.g. after switching apps or tabs.)
  • The discussion typically moves on to a new thread after about 3,000 comments. See #NextPost in Glossary.

Things generally smiled upon

  • Think of the mods!: Keep the thread on track and chock full of signals (not noise). Extra venting and riffing welcome in MetaTalk or Chat.
  • Provide citation and [real][fake] tags: Follow spitbull's guidelines: credit the reporters and link to original publication or tweet. Exception: in case of deplorable sources, feel free to deny them the clicks by NOT providing them a direct link.
  • Take action: Call your senators and congressional representatives, join a protest, make your own party slogan stickers and shirts, get out the vote!

Things generally frowned upon

  • Taking your comments anywhere too dark: The moderators have asked people to steer clear of comments that play out the current political scenario to an imagined violent, apocalyptic, dystopian end. It's not something that's currently happening and it upsets a lot of people. If you don't know what this means, that's good. If you already have your comment ready about how we'll all be living in camps by 2020 and you're already pricing out how much your kidney will fetch on the Canadian black market after you make a run for the border... that's not good.
  • Generally losing your mind about the WTFness of our current reality: Comments should generally be substantive. But! If you want to just lose your mind, there is occasionally a place for that on MetaTalk, like here.
  • Re-litigating the primaries (or previous derails) (or pre-litigating 2020 candidates): For the sake of everyone's sanity, reopening the Clinton vs. Sanders discussion from the primaries (or the third-party spoiler discussion from 2000) is generally frowned upon. There are thousands of old comments in past threads on this subject that you can read if you simply must revisit this issue. Ditto for rehashing of certain hot-button topics such as whether President Pence would be better or worse than Trump.
  • Posting duplicate links: To check if a link has already been posted, use the site's search box to search for the url you are about to post.
  • Unmarked fake quotations: Posting things in quotation marks that are not actual quotes unless tagged [fake].
  • Editing for content: Unlike many Internet forums, MetaFilter norms do not allow for comments to be edited for significant content changes; as noted in the edit box, the five-minute edit window is for small fixes and typos only. In fast-moving threads such as the U.S. politics series of megathreads, editing for content often leads to confusion as different users are seeing and responding to different content. For this reason, mods often delete otherwise acceptable comments due to abuse of the edit function.
  • Liveblogging without context or posting links to single tweets: There is Chat for quick, as-it-happens updates. If reporting on an event in the thread, try to group information into fewer posts.


25th Amendment

The 25th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution talks about the transfer of power if the President dies, resigns, is removed from office, or is otherwise unable to discharge the powers of the presidency. Some MeFites like to game out situations which could result if this amendment is ever invoked during the Trump presidency.

Bees! Oh God, the Bees!

The bees and their wrath will not be contained. Release them! Release them all!! Watch out for stings while carefully peeking at monopas' meticulously compiled list of bee sightings.

Buttery Males

"But her emails!!" The election is long over but buttery males remain a favorite GOP pivot in the face of the newest Trump scandal. "What about Hillary? What about Obama?"


Big wins against the continued success of the Trump Administration are celebrated by eating real (not metaphorical) cake. Which leads to...

Cake Bets: Much better than eating one's hat. How to play: Say words. If wrong, bake cake and put words on cake. Eat cake. Peruse the origins of this honorable tradition, pioneered by Mrs. Pterodactyl (may she have her sweet revenge upon Paul Ryan one of these Lents) and bettified by sotonohito (there are pics!).


A fancy (or derisive, take your pick) way to refer to member of Congress.

Comfort Foods

A giant bowl of guacamole helped soothe Superplin, and by extension, all of us, during the DNC, and so many Mefites now look to the delicious dip during debates or other times of need. Many Mefites have also adopted the common Internet practice of consuming popcorn in an act of schadenfreude, or announcing their plans to procure such in anticipation of confusion or disarray among disliked politicians or pundits. Mefites have also invented a variety of alcoholic cocktails to enable them to cope with the fast-changing political environment.


On May 31, 2017, President Trump sent out a tweet that read, in its entirety, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe". It stayed up on his Twitter page for way too long. The nation became obsessed with what covfefe means but quickly moved on. MeFi did not move on.

Egg McMuffin

Candidate Evan McMullin (him?) is so forgettable (we even forgot to include him in this wiki) that one might mix him up with an Egg McMuffin or Egg for short. This all has its roots in an Arrested Development joke about George Michael's girlfriend Ann (her?). The joke can be further extended, cockney rhyming slang style, by referencing the character Egg from George R. R. Martin's Dunk and Egg stories.


User Chrysostom provides an great round-up of down-ballot election news every day or so.


When you say "I can't even" so much that you run out of evens. Asides are often made to possible new sources of 'evens' and so on. Other quickly depleting resources may be similarly referenced, including "fucks" and "popcorn."


References to the Broadway musical Hamilton make frequent appearances in the election threads, much to the joy of some Mefites and the chagrin of others. Post titles are generally Hamilton lyrics, and references in comments range from lyrical fragments to election-themed filk. As a rule of thumb, if a comment you don't understand seems to have an unusual number of favorites, it's probably a Hamilton reference.

Feel lost? You don't have to get to New York and spend hundreds on tickets: you need not see Hamilton to enjoy Hamilton. The entire album can be streamed free on YouTube (the first song is over here), streamed on Spotify, Apple Music, or the streaming provider of your choice, and purchased for download wherever fine music is sold. The show is more-or-less sung through, and so the album contains (with a few small exceptions) the entire show. Further enhance your experience with the lyrics and the Genius annotations, which add context and insights to the text, and then use the various MeFi posts as a gateway to the many wonders the fandom has to offer. You'll be delighting and irritating your fellow Mefites by dropping references in no time!


Hillary Rodham Clinton. Very occasionally, Human Rights Council.


The Intelligence Community. Short form for the "alphabet soup" of NSA, FBI, CIA, etc.

Keyes Constant

(aka the Crazification Factor) In 2004 a carpetbagging Alan Keyes managed to get 27% of the vote in a Senate campaign against Barack Obama. This led to the theory that 27% of the population can be expected to vote in a completely insane fashion. "Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification – either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy." The name was coined by Whet Moser.

lalex and zachlipton

Are they the same person? They sure post the same news a lot, almost always within minutes of one another. Only the Writers know for sure.


Often seen as a hashtag, #MAGA, "Make America Great Again" was the Trump campaign's 2016 slogan and a common refrain from the Trump White House.

Sen. John McCain's Concern-o-Meter

Sen. McCain was noted for making public expressions of concern regarding regarding various actions of the Trump Administration. Many MeFites feel he did not back that up with action, though that healthcare downvote was pretty baller. His concern-o-meter has been used as a gauge for how serious a situation is. As of August 25, 2018, John McCain is no longer concerned about anything.

Metafilter: (Insert Pithy Description Here)

Metafilter taglines aren't just a politics megathread thing, but they do get pretty funny here. Metafilter: It does get pretty funny here.

National Treasure [X]

Often added before the the name of Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri (i.e. National Treasure Alexandra Petri), it's meant to show respect. Now also applied by MeFites to other writers they like. Some would argue it is sadly overused, now indicating a fawning, obsequious obsession void of criticality.


Some users have taken to tagging significant links with this searchable tag to assist whoever creates the next election post.


Stands for President of the United States. See also FLOTUS (First Lady) and VPOTUS (Vice President). SCOTUS (Supreme Court).

[real], [fake]

It's often tempting to put words in the mouths of public figures for the purpose of satire, comedy, or critique. Unfortunately, given the unbelievable things that actually come out of some of our public figures' mouths, it is frequently impossible to tell the difference between such satire and reality (see also: Poe's Law). Accordingly, it has become customary to tag fake "quotes" as [fake]. Actual unbelievable quotes may be tagged as [real] to clarify that they are, unfortunately, a part of the world we live in.


Peel off one layer and you've opened a whole new set of nested dolls. To help us keep track of ongoing RussiaGate, user OnceUponATime has compiled information and links at 2016 Active Measures.

Scoop o'clock

Major newspapers, mostly the Washington Post and New York Times, tend to publish a "scoop" on the Trump Administration, usually the result of leak information, in the late afternoon, sometimes just as the wheels of Air Force One lift off the tarmac. Sometimes the scoop comes earlier in the day and then MeFites have to check their watches to make sure they're not running slow. Sometimes there are two in a day, in a fitting tribute to our Dear Leader's penchant for getting double the ice cream rations of guests.

Surely this?

An expression of hope from a MeFite that surely this new development will lead to the downfall of the Trump Administration. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.

"The Writers"

The years 2017-18 are a scripted TV series, and an anonymous group of evil writers is responsible for its plot. The writers are often criticized for unbelievable plot points, one-note characters with ludicrous names and who show no signs of development, lazy writing, and unbearable levels of tension. Some users have speculated that 2017-18 may actually exist in a universe that was previously considered to be fictional, or a mashup of several fictional universes; candidates for this speculation have included the television shows Community and its Darkest Timeline, Arrested Development, and Black Mirror.

Tick tick tick and "that tick tick tick guy"

Washington insider Benjamin Wittes edits Brookings' Lawfare blog. A friend of former FBI Director Comey, Wittes has an unnerving ability to telegraph that scoop o'clock is coming by posting "tick tick tick tick" on his Twitter feed. He has announced that, in response to backlash, he will stop ticking.

Trump's Mirror

Defined by user flug, named by user Devonian, and put in the shaving kit by user Joey Michaels, this heuristic can be summarized as, "Anything Trump says about an opponent is a reflection of himself." Trump's Mirror has its roots in an observation by The Art of the Deal ghostwriter Tony Schwartz:

Something I saw early on w/ Trump: most negative things he says about others are actually describing him. Read his tweets with that in mind
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 27, 2016

Trump's Razor

Heuristic defined by Josh Marshall and named by Mefi's own John Scalzi: "When it [comes] to Trump, figure[…] out the stupidest possible scenario that could be reconciled with the available facts and [go] with it, that almost always turn[s] out to be right." Invoked when trying to understand the reasons behind incomprehensible behavior in the Trump Administration.

Trump's Shaving Kit

Contains Trump's Razor and Trump's Mirror, plus whatever else we want to try to shoehorn into the metaphor.

Trump's Theorem

Posited by user chris24: "For every tweet or statement, there is a past tweet refuting it."

Turn, Turn, Turn, Curse, Spit

Often abbreviated tttcs, a nod to The West Wing's panacea for election night optimism.


Stands for the Washington Post. NY Times is pretty self-explanatory, though sometimes shortened to just NYT. WSJ is the Wall Street Journal.

[X] Week

The Trump Administration likes to announced themed weeks for the President's schedule, a.k.a. Infrastructure Week, Energy Week, Workforce Development Week. MeFites like to have themed weeks, too!


On May 25, 2016 in Billings, Montana, Candidate Trump famously said, "We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning." MeFites likes to work this sentiment into their comments.