This weekend, Southwest Airlines announced the start of an internal investigation into one of its pilots who had allegedly concluded his in-flight remarks with the phrase “let’s go Brandon” — a right wing shibboleth for MAGA scenesters who’d rather play silly rhetorical games than just come out and say “fuck Joe Biden” like a grownup.
The providence of substituting encouragement for Brandon in place of swearing at the president is as dumb as it is unimportant. At this point, LGB is as ubiquitous among the knuckle-dragging conservative class as red hats and confederate flag tattoos. It doesn’t matter where it came from — it’s here now, and can be found everywhere from the House of Representatives to the World Series. Frankly, it stinks.
To be clear: it doesn’t stink because it’s disrespectful, or uncivil or however else the Very Important Pundits have chosen to clutch this particularly stupid pearl. If anything, the inclination to swear at elected officials — especially the President of the United States – is one that should be encouraged and nurtured more in this country, regardless of party. Humbling politicians who all too often think of themselves as above the hoi polloi is a time honored tradition that transcends Democrats and Republicans.
No, the problem with “let’s go Brandon” is that it’s fucking weak. It sucks. It’s the sort of tee hee hee sophomoric nonsense that uses bluster and bravado to mask a fundamentally hollow conviction over what’s actually being said. If conservatives want to say “fuck Joe Biden” because they truly believe he should be fucked, then they should just come out and say “fuck Joe Biden!” like grown ups. It’s easy. If they wanted, they could even put a beat to it.
What “let’s go Brandon” is is a transparent grasp at some fleeting sense of smug superiority by a group who needs to feel like they’re in on some important secret joke. It doesn’t matter that the “message” (such as it is) here is ostensibly to insult Joe Biden, the real value here isn’t what’s being said; it’s that saying it gives conservative trolls an excuse to laugh at anyone who doesn’t “get it.” In this sense, it’s the same sort of bait as the legions of aspiring white nationalists who gleefully tossed up the “okay” hand sign, knowing full well that it was less about signifying their apparent political beliefs than it was about riling up the normies. So too is “let’s go Brandon” less an insult as it an mass troll job, designed for omnidirectional offense in the service of juvenile solidarity (which, incidentally Donald Trump Junior is happy to capitalize on for the low low price of just $27.99).
The nice thing about “Let’s Go Brandon” is that the moment you realize it’s not intended to offend the president as it is to offend you, it paradoxically becomes easier to truly not care about it whatsoever. It just becomes that much more stupid noise in the maelstrom of right wing virtue signaling. The bad news, unfortunately, is that if the right has proven adept at anything, it’s being able to jettison one troll job for another without missing a beat. Which is to say, the moment we stop hearing about Brandon is the moment some enterprising Trump associate will just retweet another shitty meme producer with another uninspiring slogan, and we’ll start this whole cycle all over again.