The Ford Brothers YouTube Like This, Justin Trudeau YouTubes Like This

Two very different politicians are using YouTube in two very different ways, for two very different ends. Rob Ford continues to hope that his political career doesn’t end in handcuffs with police frog-marching him out of Toronto City Hall, and while he’s killing time between his associations with actual killers, he’s decided to grace the Internet with clips of him and his brother Doug using words.

Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party released a video yesterday making his argument for the hearts and minds of middle class Canadian voters. The contents themselves aren’t particularly novel for anyone who’s been paying attention—high household debt ratios, stagnant salaries and wages, an upper crust that’s pulling away from the rest of us—but the medium contains multiple messages.

First of all, there’s the presentation. Rather than have Trudeau speak directly into a camera, he narrates a series of literally hand-drawn images, in an adaptation of the style of the RSA Animates lectures that were a big deal a while back.

The choice to not present Trudeau’s face except for a few moments tells us a few things: first of all, the Liberals (correctly) assume we don’t need to be told who their leader is. As a-doy obvious as it may sound, this is actually worth mentioning for what is, after all, still the third party in Parliament. There’s an acknowledgement here of Trudeau’s celebrity, and a willingness to use it, without needing to make Trudeau the centre of attention.

The question we’re left with is which use the medium will reward. Is the Internet circa 2014 the kind of place where the Fords or the Trudeaus win out? The answer could be both, because the medium isn’t always the message; radio and newsreels accommodated Roosevelt and Hitler with disinterest. But I strongly suspect the Liberals, borrowing from methods that have already proven themselves online, are going to have much better luck than the Fords’ attempt to bolt AM radio-style diatribes onto a medium nearly a century younger than AM radio.

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that Rob Ford’s politics don’t belong on YouTube. They belong in YouTube comments.