I Can't Stop Looking at These Weird Rand 'Selfies'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

One frequently proffered explanation for the rise of Donald Trump is that so many modern campaigns feel entirely artificial, stage-managed, sterile, afraid of controversy.

But Trump isn’t the only candidate to embrace the chaos. So has Rand Paul. The Kentucky senator has released an app that allows you to take a “selfie” “with” him, then post it to Twitter with the hashtag #StandWithRand. That’s dangerous business: Any time you invite people to generate content, you’re risking social-media embarrassment. (Just ask the NYPD.)

Not only that, but Paul’s Twitter feed is retweeting a bunch of them. They’re not just picking out the obvious ones to share though—some of them are a little creepy, a little menacing, or just strange. Some seem almost painfully earnest:

Some of them are a little silly. (Why so serious, Senator?)

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’re sincere, like this gentleman who looks ready to eat the gentleman from Kentucky:

And a few are just entirely dada:

If we can’t make America great again, I say let’s at least make it weird.