This Meme Captures the Big Difference in This Election

July 21st 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

A viral meme from Imgur shows that eight years is a lifetime when it comes to politics.

While it's impossible to really say whether the 2016 presidential race is more hateful than the 2008 campaign, the meme certainly illustrates why it might feel that way.

It shows an interaction between 2008 nominee John McCain (R-Arizona) and a woman at a town hall meeting.

Meme comparing 2008 to 2016.

The woman starts to ask a question about the Democratic presidential nominee at the time, Barack Obama. She says that she can't trust him because "he is an Arab."

"I can't trust Obama. I have read about him ... and he is an Arab ... No?" she asks.

Besides the obvious bigotry in distrusting someone because of their ethnic background, the claim is not factually correct. Instead of allowing the woman to continue, McCain stands up for Obama.

"No ma'am. No ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you."

Would Republican nominee Donald Trump demonstrate the same level of diplomacy?

In the minds of most voters, the answer is probably ...

Whether it's actually part of his personal belief system or just a strategy to pick up conservative votes, Trump has embraced Islamophobia in his campaign. He has called for a ban on Muslim immigration multiple times.

And unlike McCain, he doesn't push back on his supporters' anti-Muslim comments.

Last year, Trump was asked a similarly bigoted question about Obama's background, but unlike McCain, he didn't correct it. A Trump supporter claimed: "We got a problem in this country and it's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he's not even American."

In the middle of the factually incorrect and hateful question, Trump responded, "We need this question."

The man then asked, "When can we get rid of them?" To which Trump responded, "A lot of people are saying that," and promised to look into it.

Trump also implied that Obama sympathizes with religious extremists.

Donald Trump phone interview on Fox & Friends.

Trump told "Fox & Friends" that Obama's reluctance to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism" during his speech about the Orlando nightclub shooting in June means that there's "something going on."

"Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can't believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on."

Trump may be the loudest, but he's not the first to be accused of using xenophobia as a campaign strategy.

In the 2008 election cycle, Obama's campaign team charged rival Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who was a New York senator at the time, with intentionally implying that Obama is a Muslim. A picture circulated that featured Obama in traditional African dress, which a less-informed person might interpret as Muslim garb. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said it was "the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election," according to The Guardian.

However, the Clinton campaign denied circulating the picture.

"I just want to make it very clear that we were not aware of it, the campaign didn't sanction it and don't know anything about it," Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said, according to the Guardian. "None of us have seen the email in question."

Clinton now seems to be taking a more active stance against Islamophobia. Last year, she tweeted a response to anti-Muslim comments made by former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson after he said a Muslim shouldn't be president. Clinton responded to his comments with a quote from the Constitution and a request to "move on."

But Trump threw himself into the conversation by tweeting that Clinton started the "birther movement," for which he later became a spokesman. The birther movement comprised a group of people who claimed Obama wasn't born in the U.S., which would disqualify him from the presidency.

Some Clinton supporters in the 2008 election circulated an email saying that Obama was not born in Hawaii but in Kenya, according to the Telegraph. However, a direct connection to the Clinton campaign was never found.

RELATED: Donald Trump Just Failed to Reject a Very Hateful Question About Muslims