The war of words between Democrats and Republicans went to a strange place in October thanks to a simple phrase: “Let’s go Brandon.” What seems like an innocent chant is actually a disguised insult to President Joe Biden.
The phrase “Let’s go Brandon” made its way into the US political discourse after a reporter misquoted a crowd chanting an obscenity about Biden, while talking with a Nascar racer. Since then, it’s been used in Republican campaign rallies, on the floor of Congress and even at a QAnon event, where the conspiracy followers expected the return of deceased John F. Kennedy Jr.
The chant also went viral on social media, becoming one of the first big memes opposing the Biden presidency. As detractors of the current president buy apparel and even gun parts with the phrase, there are concerns over whether this slight might end up going too far.
Here’s everything you need to know about this phrase.
How did Let’s go Brandon start?
On Oct. 2, Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series Nascar race at the Talladega Superspeedway. NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast interviewed Brown following his win on the race track with a crowd behind him chanting “Fuck Joe Biden,” which has been often chanted at US sporting events over the past several months.
During the interview, Stavast remarks about the crowd saying, “You can hear the chants from the crowd. Let’s go Brandon.”
It’s unclear whether she mistakenly heard the phrase or decided not to repeat the term due to the profanity in the chant.
Conservatives and others opposed to Biden’s presidency seized on the phrase. It has since been used as a chant at political events and placed on merchandise from shirts to gun parts.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked on Friday what Biden thought of the phrase.
“I don’t think he spends much time focused on it or thinking about it,” she said.
What are social media companies doing about the hashtag?
Not much. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TIkTok haven’t removed posts with the Let’s go Brandon hashtag.
“Let’s Go Brandon” trended on Twitter multiple times since the initial interview, with Republican politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, and Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, using the hashtag, with the latter even putting the phrase on a dress. Cruz and Boebert were among the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
To counter the phrase, fans of Biden began using the hashtag #ThankYouBrandon, which was trending on Twitter on Nov. 5.
One company that reportedly did take steps in banning the hashtag is the fitness company Peloton. A report from right-wing website PJ Media shows the hashtag isn’t available to be added to user profiles. Peloton customers can use tags in their profiles to associate with others members with similar interests.
“We have a zero tolerance policy against divisive, explicit, or other content that violates our policies,” the company said in an email statement Monday. “We actively moderate our channels and have removed tags that span the political spectrum, while still allowing members to express themselves using tags like #WomenForTrump.”
What are some controversies surrounding the hashtag?
Aside from the obvious insult of Biden, the Let’s go Brandon hashtag has come with its share of controversy.
A pilot for Southwest Airlines is under investigation over the use of the phrase during a flight announcement in October.
Billboard released its list of best-selling songs for the week on Nov. 8 and two of the top five songs referenced the phrase: Bryson Gray featuring Tyson James and Chandler Crump “Let’s go Brandon” and Loza Alexander’s “Let’s go Brandon.” Gray said on Oct. 21 his song was removed from YouTube due to medical misinformation.