Let's Go Brandon

"Let's Go Brandon" is a political slogan and Internet meme that has been used as a minced oath for "Fuck Joe Biden", in reference to Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States.

A "Let's Go Brandon" sign outside of a Florida residence

Chants of "Fuck Joe Biden" started being repeated at sporting events beginning in early September 2021. On October 2, 2021, during a televised interview of the Sparks 300 race winner Brandon Brown at Talladega Superspeedway, NBC reporter Kelli Stavast incorrectly described the chant in the background as "Let's Go Brandon", which sparked the meme.[1] The slogan has become well known through use by Republican politicians and critics of Biden.[2][3] The phrase quickly spread to popular culture, with rap songs using the phrase placing high on record charts.

Origins

Anti-Biden chant

In early September 2021, chants of "Fuck Joe Biden" were reported to have broken out in a number of college football games in the Southern United States.[4][5] Later that month, the phenomenon spread to northern universities, including Wyoming.[6] Similar anti-Biden chants took place during the September 2021 Ryder Cup.[7][8]

The Washington Examiner reported that "Fuck Joe Biden" was chanted by some attendees at a Megadeth concert in September 2021,[9] and at an October 2021 protest in response to a vaccine mandate for educators in New York City.[10]

Brandon Brown interview

The portion of the Brandon Brown interview in which the crowd chants "Fuck Joe Biden", and the interviewer says, "Let's go, Brandon"
 
Race car driver Brandon Brown in August 2021

On October 2, 2021, racing driver Brandon Brown was being interviewed by NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, following his victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sparks 300 race which was shortened due to darkness.[11][12] Fans were chanting "Fuck Joe Biden",[13] and this became clearly audible to viewers of the broadcast.[14][1] On the live broadcast, while wearing a headset,[15] reporter Stavast stated, "You can hear the chants from the crowd, 'Let's go, Brandon!'"[3][11][16] It is unclear whether Stavast misunderstood the chant or whether she intentionally misquoted it; a reporter with the Associated Press made a claim that the chant was "at first difficult to make out".[11][17] If intentional, it may have been a verbal legerdemain.[18][19]

Early spread and reactions

Footage of the interview went viral,[1] leading to the adoption of the phrase by critics of President Biden as an expression of antipathy toward him.[20][2][14] It has also been reported as a protest against perceived liberal bias in mainstream media, based on speculation that the reporter's description of the crowd's chant was intended to conceal anti-Biden sentiment.[2][14]

Conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Tomi Lahren spread the phrase via Twitter.[21] The slogan has been printed on clothing, a billboard, and a banner flown behind a plane over a pro-Trump rally in Iowa.[12]

According to The Independent, on October 19, "The anti-Biden war cry 'Let's Go Brandon' is no longer a conservative media phenomenon, it's infiltrating mainstream popular culture and is now number one and two on iTunes, knocking Adele's new single into third place."[12]

As the phrase began to increase in use, Brandon Brown found the phrase amusing[22] and tweeted: "To all the other Brandons out there, You're welcome! Let's go us".[1] In private, he was ambivalent about the phrase because it overshadowed his Talladega win and threatened to scare off corporate sponsors leery of controversy.[22] He planned to ignore the phrase, but later worried that his silence was perceived as a tacit endorsement of the sentiment.[22] In October 2021, Brown's Brandonbilt Motorsports team was struggling to acquire sponsorship, as companies were hesitant to support him due to his indirect association with the chant and its political undertones.[11][23] In December 2021, Brown, who is a Republican, said he had remained quiet during its proliferation because he had "zero desire to be involved in politics," before expressing his wish for it to be used in a positive context instead.[22] Brown took a more mixed stance in an op-ed for Newsweek, in which he said he was "not going to endorse anyone" or be silent about issues important to him.[24]

On November 5, 2021, NASCAR president Steve Phelps denounced any implied association with the slogan, saying that the organization does not want to be associated with politics on either the left or the right.[15]

Usage

Analysis

Linguist John McWhorter analyzed the linguistic attributes of the chant in The Atlantic, likening the use of "Brandon" to a hlonipha – a substitution of a forbidden word. He wrote that the anti-Biden euphemism has a similar tone to the word SNAFU, which stands for "Situation Normal – All Fucked Up", or to the word "cuckservatives" (a portmanteau of "cuckold" and "conservatives") which is used by some nationalists or paleoconservatives to describe neoconservatives perceived as being in fact liberals. McWhorter described the Let's Go Brandon phenomenon as "simply fascinating", and a "wild, woolly kink in the intersection of language, politics, wit, and creativity."[25]

Kaitlyn Tiffany wrote in The Atlantic how supporters of President Joe Biden attempted to create a meme of their own, "Thank you, Brandon". She found this slogan "embarrassing", as it does not make sense for Biden supporters to replace his name with someone else.[26]

On November 20, 2021, the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the chant "reveals a moral bankruptcy of those who chant it even in church".[27] In a November 23, 2021 opinion piece for The Washington Post, the former chief speechwriter for president George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen commented that the chant was tame compared to what has been said about other presidents. Initially, Thiessen was not a fan of the chant, but concluded his comments with, "it is a perfectly harmless and humorous way for Americans to express their frustration at a flailing – and failing – presidency."[28]

Politics

Congressman Bill Posey's October 21, 2021 speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, which he concludes with "Let's go Brandon".
 
Attendees at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference wearing "Let's Go Brandon" hats in which the font on the cap is designed to imitate the font used in Joe Biden's 2020 campaign logo.

Republican politicians have used the phrase publicly. On October 21, Republican congressman Bill Posey concluded remarks on the House floor with "Let's go, Brandon".[2] Texas Governor Greg Abbott used the phrase in an October 22 tweet.[29] He attributed the popularity of the phrase to frustration with Biden's "disastrous policies", including his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the southern border.[30] The following week, Republican representative Jeff Duncan wore a face mask with the phrase imprinted on it on the House floor.[31] Senator Ted Cruz posed with a "Let's Go Brandon" sign that was hung in Houston at the 2021 World Series.[11] The anti-Biden chant appeared in Georgia when the Atlanta Braves hosted game 4 of the World Series with former President Donald Trump in attendance.[32]

Chants of the phrase occurred at the election headquarters of Glenn Youngkin during his victorious 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election on November 2, 2021.[33] On the following day, while providing commentary on Youngkin's upset victory, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said "When you look at the Biden – when you look at the Brandon administration", to cheers and applause from the crowd, who began chanting "Let's Go Brandon."[34] A few weeks later DeSantis purposefully chose Brandon, Florida, as the venue to sign an anti-vaccine mandate bill.[35]

On November 4, 2021, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert wore a red dress with "Let's Go Brandon" in white lettering on the back while meeting with former president Trump. The dress bore similarities to the "Tax the Rich" dress worn by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her Met Gala appearance two months earlier. Boebert tweeted a photo of the dress, saying, "It's not a phrase, it's a movement! #LGB".[36]

On November 12, 2021, when asked about Biden's views regarding the phrase, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded, "I don't think he spends much time focused on it or thinking about it."[37]

During President Biden's visit to offer condolences and view the destruction of the tornado outbreak in Dawson Springs and Mayfield, Kentucky on December 15, 2021, there were some shouts of "Let's Go Brandon" from small groups of protestors.[38][39]

While President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were taking phone calls for NORAD's Santa tracker hotline on December 24, 2021, a caller ended his chat by saying, "Merry Christmas and let's go Brandon," to which President Biden smiled and responded, "Let's go Brandon, I agree."[40][41]

On January 10, 2022, Jim Lamon, a US Senate candidate for Arizona released a campaign advertisement incorporating "Let's go Brandon!". According to The Hill, this is the first national campaign ad to use the slogan.[42] Another campaign ad featuring "Let's Go Brandon" was released in February 2022 as a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl LVI. The ad, paid for by David McCormick, a Republican candidate for the US Senate from Pennsylvania, highlights the rising inflation rate and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan against an audio background of a crowd chanting "Let's Go Brandon" (not the original vulgar chant).[43]

On February 26, 2022, Nigel Farage, a British broadcaster and former politician, used the phrase in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando.[44]

At the 2022 White House Correspondents' Dinner, Biden acknowledged the phrase by joking, "Republicans seem to support one fella, some guy named Brandon. He's having a good year, I'm kind of happy for him."[45]

Music

Soon after the chant went viral, an anti-Biden rap song called "Let's Go Brandon" was recorded by Loza Alexander.[46] The song first went viral on TikTok before rising to number one on the iTunes Store Top Hip-Hop/Rap Songs list, and number two on the platform's Top Songs list, on October 18, 2021.[47][48][49] Alexander's song reached number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of November 6, 2021.[50]

Another song with the same title was released by Bryson Gray, a Christian conservative rapper, reaching number one on iTunes.[13] It debuted at number 28 on the US Hot 100.[51] The music video for Gray's song, which included the line "Biden said the jab stop the spread, it was lies" (in reference to COVID-19 vaccination efforts by Biden) was taken down by YouTube for containing "medical misinformation".[13] A country rap song of the same name was recorded by Forgiato Blow.[13] On October 27, iTunes had different "Let's Go Brandon" recordings at numbers one, two,[52] four and eight.[53]

On January 25, 2022, Kid Rock released a single, "We the People", in which he attacks the media, Dr. Anthony Fauci, masks, COVID-19 restrictions, and Big Tech, and which features the chant "Let's go Brandon" in the chorus.[54][55]

Brandon Brown sponsorship

In early November, the crypto coin LGBcoin (LGB) began trading,[56] and on December 30, 2021, LGBcoin announced that it would be sponsoring Brandon Brown's Brandonbilt Motorsports for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.[57] Brandonbilt's spokesman told Fox Business that approval was received on December 26,[58] but on January 5, 2022, Bob Pockrass announced that NASCAR had not approved the sponsorship.[59] In response, investor James Koutoulas threatened a lawsuit against NASCAR, and called for a boycott until the decision was reversed.[60]

Other

On October 28, 2021, in Falls Church, Virginia, two electronic road signs were broken into and changed to post the anti-Biden slogan.[61]

On October 29, an on-duty airline pilot for Southwest Airlines allegedly said "Let's Go Brandon" over the public address system.[62] The Southwest incident came one week after the union representing United Airlines pilots sent out a memo discouraging pilots from using the emergency frequency 121.5 for communicating personal opinions, because they had been using it to say the phrase.[63]

On November 1, NBC News reported that Palmetto State Armory, a firearms company, had begun marketing ammunition stamped with the slogan.[64]

On November 3, city officials in Brandon, Minnesota reported that six city signs had the words "Let's go" placed in front of the name of the town.[65]

On October 24, at the North Carolina State Fair, North Carolina Republicans sold buttons featuring the phrase; four days later, the Trump campaign began selling T-shirts featuring the phrase.[66][29]

In December 2021, a chain of five stores in New England selling Let's Go Brandon and pro-Trump clothing and other merchandise were re-branded as Let's Go Brandon Stores.[67] The stores were so successful that at the end of December the owner announced two new outlets.[68]

On December 4, 2021, during the annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade in Yorktown, Virginia, a boat decorated with Christmas lights spelling out "FJB" and "Let's Go Brandon!" was initially declared to win "Best in Show" after the event. Later, the Yorktown Foundation stated the boat had an "overt political message" and disqualified the entry.[69]

During the 2021 Holiday shopping season, a private vendor briefly offered for sale "Let's go Brandon" merchandise at the Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson in Alaska. Although nobody complained, base officials updated the guidelines for what is and what is not appropriate to sell on the base.[70]

In early January 2022, a passenger on American Airlines posted a Twitter photo complaint about a pilot's using a bag tag with the "Let's Go Brandon" phrase. The airline responded to the tweet, saying the information would be sent to the proper team but did not disclose if there would be any action taken against the pilot. The airline received backlash on social media, citing freedom of speech issues and the double standard of allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter pins back in 2020.[71]

In April 2022, Colorado state representative Dave Williams ran for the House of Representatives and attempted to be listed on the ballot under the name "Dave 'Let’s Go Brandon' Williams". Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold denied Williams' request under the reasoning that "Let's go Brandon" is a slogan and not a nickname. Williams sued, with former Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler acting as his attorney.[72]

Gallery

See also

References

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