If the Canadian election was somehow held today on TikTok, Jagmeet Singh would be the only federal leader with an account to vote for. The NDP leader unleashed an addictively simple loop of video set to E-40’s “Choices” Thursday, establishing political meme skills on par with an extremely online teen.
The video racked up a whopping 1.3 million views within a day. Even Singh’s opponents have commended the effort:
The thing about a well-made meme is it defies straightforward explanation. The clip shows Singh gesturing to word bubbles with alternating steely and cheery expressions on his face, lip syncing the words “nope” and “yup.”
For every “nope,” Singh points to text that appears above his head representing some sort of elitist group, like “Big Pharma.”
When the lyrics switch to “yup,” a graphic of something Singh stands for, like “Families who need medication,” pops up on the other side as he points to it.
Singh does this for “Big polluters” (nope) vs. “The environment” (yup); “Housing speculators” (nope) vs. “People who need a home,” (yup); and “The rich and powerful” (nope) vs. “People” (yup).
The caption below says, “This is who I’m in it for #elxn43.”
TikTok emerged in 2017 as an endlessly-scrolling musical video app that started capturing North American teens’ brains sometime in 2018. The app allows users to take short videos of up to 15 seconds, usually set to music or some other sound bite. Singh’s first three posts on the app have garnered over two million views in total. He has almost 60,000 followers and 170,000 likes so far.
Singh’s use of TikTok sets him apart from the other candidates, who have not shown the same level of social media savvy this election. A Liberal Party spokesperson confirmed that Justin Trudeau doesn’t have TikTok but says that “an innovative digital campaign has been an important part” of his campaign.
They’ve likely been bested on that front by the NDP this year.
By now it’s probably too “try hard” for Trudeau to get it anyway, given how Singh has now cemented himself as fluent in millennial and Gen Z memes.
All three major candidates are trying to get across a populist message this campaign. Each one is trying to show how he’s the one to stand for Canadian against elite interests.
Trudeau warns of Conservatives cutting services. Scheer is trying to come off as the ordinary Canadian who’s had to scrap his way to success. But Singh has cornered the populist-left messaging this time with rhetoric similar to that featured in the TikTok clip.
The 2015 election saw record numbers of youth coming out to vote, mostly for Trudeau who looked like the real progressive candidate that year.
NDP spokesperson Melanie Richer confirms that Singh expanded to TikTok because the party “wanted to use his account for election content as this is the forum that young people are using.”
Singh’s mostly successful campaign so far has helped the NDP jump several percentage points in national polls these past few weeks. The party is still in a distant third to the Conservatives and Liberals who are pretty much neck and neck right now.
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