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Why ‘Let’s Go, Brandon’ is the right’s favorite Joe Biden insult

President Joe Biden waving to hecklers shouting Let's go Brandon!

Spend enough time scrolling through Twitter, and you’ll eventually come across it. A simple, three-word exhortation — Let’s go, Brandon! — that started spreading like wildfire across social media in October of 2021.

This phrase quickly became a combination anti-Joe Biden “Let’s go, Brandon” meme as well as a conservative rallying cry of sorts. It’s also driven Biden supporters completely crazy. You’ll generally find the phrase shared in posts written by critics of President Biden, but it’s also gone on to become a hashtag, a meme, it’s included in account names and handles — and it even adorns merchandise. A Let’s go, Brandon song also went viral on TikTok.

We’ll break down the backstory below. It’s best, however, to think about this catchphrase within the context of some larger political forces at work. Biden’s approval rating, for example, just hit one of the lowest levels of his presidency. Inflation is soaring, high gas prices are frustrating cash-strapped consumers, and some Democrats have started whispering about whether Biden ought to be the candidate the party runs in 2024.

Here’s a segment from none other than CNN, in fact, decrying a so-called “geriatric oligarchy” in control of the US government.

Original NASCAR video clip – and who is Brandon?

For anyone interested in how the Let’s Go Brandon online movement got started, meanwhile, video from the NASCAR race behind this whole thing is embedded below.

This whole thing got started in October, at the Talladega Superspeedway. Brandon Brown had just won a NASCAR race. And sportscaster Kelli Stavast at one point commented during an interview with Brown afterward how the crowd seemed to be chanting in his honor: ‘Let’s go, Brandon!”

Unfortunately, that’s not actually what they were chanting. The crowd was very clearly addressing President Biden, not Brandon. Only, with an f-bomb in front of his name instead of “Let’s go!”

Whether the reporter in that clip made a mistake when listening to the crowd’s chants or not is kind of irrelevant at this point. Conservatives already feel like the mainstream media is stacked against them. And here, there’s a reporter telling people something that was contradicted by what they could clearly hear with their own ears.

The phrase was all over social media again a few months ago, with the news that Southwest Airlines was canceling tons of flights (leading to suspicion that Biden’s vaccine mandate was somehow to blame). Even congressmen as well as the NRA, certainly no fans of the president, have gotten in on the act and promoted the phrase on social media. Consequently, the phrase then spilled over into pop culture.

Along those lines, there’ve been at least two songs with “Let’s Go, Brandon” in the title that went on to top the iTunes charts.

Biden approval rating

One of the reasons this catchphrase found such a receptive audience can be attributed to, for lack of a better description, the Biden economy.

One of the crises that was unfolding at the time, when the phrase first caught fire, was a supply chain crisis. Inflation, meanwhile, is also at a record high. The US has also reeled from shortages of important consumer products, like baby formula. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has tried to downplay much of it — which, to conservatives, has reeked of the same “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?” defense that characterized the original “Let’s go, Brandon!” TV moment.

Biden, meanwhile, also closed out his first year in office by finding himself almost as unpopular as President Trump. Along these lines, The Economist ran a piece with the headline: “No one loves Joe Biden.”

“Americans elected the president to get rid of his predecessor,” the piece continued. “They’re not sure what else he can do.”

Bryson Gray and Loza Alexander both wrote a Let’s Go Brandon song

The phrase has continued to show up in all kinds of surprising places. A Southwest Airlines pilot himself made news for declaring “Let’s Go, Brandon” from the cockpit, over the intercom, during an announcement to passengers.

On the one hand, it’s true that this phrase is used as a euphemistic replacement for more vulgar invective that would be otherwise directed at the president. Instead of dropping the f-bomb at the president as the NASCAR crowd did, you can utter this phrase instead. People will know what you really mean.

It’s a code phrase, it’s a meme, it’s an example to conservatives of media bias — basically, it’s a neat and tidy summation of so many different crosscurrents in the news right now. But because it’s also exploding all over social media and the public lexicon at the moment, there have also even been charting-topping hip-hop songs with, you guessed it, Let’s go Brandon in the title.

One of the songs is by rapper Loza Alexander, which first went viral on TikTok. Another is from rapper Bryson Gray, whose song shot to #1 on iTunes.

let's go brandon joe biden memeImage source: Yuri Gripas / Pool via CNP Newscom/Mega Agency
Andy Meek profile photo

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.