'Let's Go, Brandon': what it means and why some in the US keep chanting it

Critics of Joe Biden are using chant to insult Democratic president

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The seemingly upbeat “Let's Go, Brandon!” meme has been making the rounds on social media, featuring in songs, on apparel and even in the US Congress.

But this message is not actually about cheering for someone named Brandon — instead, it has become a code for those in conservative circles for "[Expletive] Joe Biden".

Critics of the US president have latched on to the chant, deploying it — and its more obscene substitute — more and more frequently, such as when Mr Biden visited Chicago last month to tout his vaccine-or-test mandate.

The chant also followed Mr Biden to Virginia last week, popping up when he campaigned for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for state governor.

So, how did the meme make it into the mainstream?

How the chant's popularity spread

US leaders being jeered is not uncommon. Former president Donald Trump was the subject of numerous memes and chants himself, including "[Expletive] Trump” and “covfefe".

The “Let's Go, Brandon” trend began on October 2, after Nascar driver Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

While an NBC Sports reporter interviewed the euphoric driver after his victory, the crowd could be heard chanting in the background. At first, the words to the chant were difficult to make out and the reporter suggested they were saying, “Let's go, Brandon".

But it soon became clear they were chanting "[Expletive] Joe Biden".

The chant's G-rated language has made it easier to go viral. Unlike the crude phrase that it substitutes, “Let's Go Brandon” cannot be banned on social media platforms.

“It's not a search term that they were going to limit,” researcher Hampton Stall said on NPR's Morning Edition.

“There's a difference between calls for violence and this sort of wink that the 'Let's Go, Brandon' meme is.”

Who's using the chant?

“Let's Go, Brandon” has not been limited to the fringes of the president's travel schedule. Republican members of Congress have also employed it.

On October 21, Bill Posey, a representative from Florida, ended a speech on the House floor in which he excoriated Mr Biden's agenda by saying “Let's Go, Brandon”, accompanied by a quick fist pump.

A week later, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina wore a “Let's Go, Brandon” face mask.

“Americans are fed up and we're making our voices heard,” he said in a Facebook post in which he shared the photo, adding his frustrations on immigration and vaccine mandates.

Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, shared a photo of himself with a Houston Astros fan at Game 2 of the World Series who was holding a “Let's Go, Brandon” sign.

And it is not only politicians who are stirring up controversy through the use of the phrase.

On Friday, a pilot for Southwest Airlines concluded his greeting to passengers over the plane's public address system with the phrase, resulting in audible gasps from those on board, The Associated Press reported.

Southwest Airlines said it is investigating the situation.

“Southwest does not condone employees sharing their personal political opinions while on the job serving our customers, and one employee’s individual perspective should not be interpreted as the viewpoint of Southwest and its collective 54,000 employees,” the airline said in a statement.

Updated: November 01, 2021, 11:31 PM
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