The Brief: Two social media campaigns are using the phrase “settle for Biden” to call for voters to support Joe Biden in the 2020 election, even though they may not be excited about his candidacy.
The catchphrase “settle for Biden” has been circulating for the past several months as a call to action for Democratic voters. Specifically, it’s directed at Democrats who may have voted for candidates like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the primary to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden this November. Two organizations in particular: the political satirists The Good Liars and the grassroots organization “Settle For Biden” have been using this phrase to urge voters to settle while acknowledging the lack of enthusiasm around Biden’s candidacy, especially among young and progressive voters.
The Good Liars, the comedy duo that consists of Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler, used the phrase “settle for Hilary” during the 2016 election and first posted about “settling for Biden” on Twitter in March 2020. They sell t-shirts and other merch with the phrase on them on the website settle4biden.com. In an email, The Good Liars stated that their campaign is a piece of “comedy, satire, parody, art, etc. – in addition to being a call to action to voters to find a way to get to the polls even if Biden wasn’t their first choice.”
Another organization, which can be found on Twitter and Instagram @SettleForBiden and the website settleforbiden.org, is spreading the message that “it’s time to settle” for the presumptive Democratic nominee. In a phone interview, Samuel Weinberg, the founder and executive director of Settle For Biden described the organization as “a not-for-profit grassroots organization dedicated to getting progressives to begrudgingly support Joe Biden’s candidacy for president” that uses “a signature combination of sardonic Millennial Gen Z humor and substantive policy proposals to convey that message.” According to Weinberg, Settle For Biden’s team is a diverse group of over a dozen volunteers between aged 17-25 who reluctantly support Biden and more enthusiastically are working to elect progressive down-ballot candidates and promote progressive policies.
Both The Good Liars and the Settle For Biden group use the Biden campaign logo along with text that reads “settle for” as graphics. On social media, The Good Liars have publicly asserted that the creators of SettleForBiden.org “took” the concept and artwork from them.
Weinberg addressed this on behalf of Settle For Biden, explaining that he “arrived at the idea independently after Bernie Sanders dropped out” and that they have “made attempts to reach out to [The Good Liars] to come up with an amicable solution.” In an emailed statement, The Good Liars wrote that they’ve been in contact with members of the Settle For Biden group and that The Good Liars asked that “they tag us in their bio with ‘original concept by @TGLnyc’ – and then continue on with whatever work they wanted,” but that they refused. Weinberg stated that The Good Liars “directed their followers to send us DMs,” some of which included abusive content and violent threats.
These two groups don’t dispute that the idea of “settling for Biden” goes beyond the work of a single creator. The concept has been widespread and even Dr. Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife, expressed a similar sentiment on the campaign trail in New Hampshire last August, saying that voters who prefer other candidates may have to “swallow a little bit” and vote for Joe as a tactic to beat Donald Trump.
Intellectual property disputes aside, both “Settle For Biden” movements agree on one basic principle: that it’s time for voters to settle for Joe Biden, the clear preferred alternative to Donald Trump.