The hashtag #BareShelvesBiden was the top trending political topic on Twitter on Friday morning, with more than 47,000 tweets. Critics of President Joe Biden also took aim with the hashtag #EmptyShelvesJoe, and accused the commander-in-chief of mismanagement.
This comes after Biden had announced that the Port of Los Angeles, the largest in North America, would operate 24-hours a day to help get products flowing back on store shelves.
The complex global supply chain has been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and in recent weeks social media users have posted photos of the sparsely-stocked stores, and with hashtags that blame the president.
New York Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney (@claudiatenney) was among the lawmakers to take aim at Biden, tweeting, “#BareShelvesBiden is what happens when you take the world’s most vibrant economy and try to force it to become socialist. We are about to enter a dark period if we don’t retake Congress and get this spending under control.”
Many users on Twitter openly mocked the president with memes and criticized his handling of the supply chain crisis:
However, just as many users were quick to defend President Biden. They pointed out that the shelves had been empty in grocery stores at the start of the pandemic in early 2020. Others even suggested that the photos being shared now were taken in March 2020 when former President Donald Trump was still in office:
“This administration has 10 times more issues to deal with than many others had, so this is really a small pebble in the grand scheme of things,” said Angelica Gianchandani, M.A., practitioner in residence at the Pompea College of Business at the University of New Haven.
“What we have to remember too is that the hashtags are only as relevant as the people creating them,” added Gianchandani. “They’re only going to live in their very small community. While it may be 47,000 tweets, that really isn’t that large number of comments on a social issue.”
Likewise, as we’ve seen on social media, this topic could soon be overtaken by the next big thing.
“It is a hot topic for that moment,” said Gianchandani.
For that reason while it could allow those to voice frustration, it likely won’t impact general public opinion, even if allows for a group to have its voice amplified.
“That is just for a short moment too,” added Gianchandani.
However, also circulating are the very words that then candidate Biden made on May 20, 2020 when he posted, “We don’t have a food shortage problem — we have a leadership problem.”
The comments had been made at a virtual town hall in which Biden blamed then President Trump for the shortages caused during the coronavirus lockdowns.
“We have plenty of food,” Biden added. “It’s being plowed under. You’ve got – you’re euthanizing cattle and pigs. They’re out there making sure that they’re pouring thousands of gallons of milk into the ground. It’s not a food shortage. It’s a lack of leadership – a lack of leadership.”
The question here is that Biden faces the same issue, so not surprisingly his critics are suggesting the problem is now his lack of leadership. While that issue can be debated from both sides, this serves as a reminder of how social media can so easily allow past comments to resurface and be shared in a way that wasn’t so possible just a few years ago.
“There is a difference that social media brings,” said Gianchandani. “In the days of the print newspaper, it was read and we threw it out. Social media makes old comments more trackable and those comments can be brought back. So when you make them you may need to be more thoughtful.”
In an era where every political tries to control the message, social media proves it is easy for the average citizen to counter it as well – and as our country remains so deeply divided this will likely continue.