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The Biden campaign is looking to hire a seasoned meme lord

This is not a joke: According to a job listing, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign needs someone to manage memes. The “Partner Manager, Content and Meme Pages” hire will “initiate and manage day-to-day operations in engaging the internet’s top content and meme pages.” The job pays up to $85,000.

Yes, it’s absurd to be a professional meme manager. But in this age, digital organizing is just as valuable as canvassing IRL at a farmers market. If a candidate is trying to meet voters where they are, then they need to be online, where going viral can mean connecting with millions of people. That’s why Biden’s campaign has a TikTok account, even though the president signed a bill that could effectively ban the app.

Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

“I do think that we can and should infuse relevant, trendy and fun moments into how we are communicating, especially on digital platforms,” Annie Wu Henry, a creator and digital communications strategist, told TechCrunch in February. “But while we’re doing that, we need to continue to be strategic and intentional and mindful, even if it’s a meme.”

Even before making this hire, the Biden campaign has already relied on memes to appeal to voters. The Dark Brandon meme, which stems from alt-right conspiracy theories about the president, has been so ubiquitous on Biden’s campaign accounts that it feels stale. But the people seem to love it: Last August, Dark Brandon merch accounted for 54% of the campaign store’s total revenue, according to Axios.

Former president Donald Trump has also embraced memes as he campaigns for his return to the White House. When Trump’s mugshot predictably went viral, his campaign immediately started selling T-shirts, mugs and beer koozies with the image, accompanied by text that says “Never Surrender.”

Biden is far from the first candidate to notice that what happens online can sway an election. For as long as social media has existed, it’s been a valuable tool for political organizers, but the pandemic accelerated campaigns’ embrace of digital tactics. When Ed Markey (D-MA) ran for reelection to the Senate in 2020, Gen Z posters around the country concocted “the Markeyverse,” an organic online movement to make sure a climate-friendly senator kept his seat. Meanwhile, the anonymous online personality Organizer Memes has been hosting meme trainings for political organizations such as the South Carolina Young Democrats. In these trainings, participants collaboratively make memes, discuss what makes a good meme, and learn how to use existing meme templates to react in real time to breaking political news.

Given the Biden administration’s potential to ban TikTok, young people may see through the campaign’s attempt to woo them with memes. But if nothing else, embracing social media is proof that a campaign is at least trying to engage a younger demographic.

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