washington (ap) — when rep. republican bill posey of florida finished an oct. speech on the floor of the 21st house with a punch and the phrase “come on, brandon!” it may have seemed cryptic and strange to many who were listening. But the phrase was already growing in right-wing circles, and now the seemingly optimistic sentiment, actually a stand-in for insulting Joe Biden, is everywhere.
South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan wore a “Come on Brandon” face mask on Capitol Hill last week. Texas Senator Ted Cruz posed with a “Go Brandon” sign at the World Series. sen. Mitch McConnell’s press secretary retweeted a photo of the phrase on a construction sign in Virginia.
the line has become conservative code for something much more vulgar: “f—- joe biden”. It’s all the rage among Republicans who want to prove their conservative credentials, a not-so-secret handshake that indicates they’re in sync with the party’s base.
Americans are used to having their leaders publicly mocked, and former President Donald Trump’s vulgar language seemed to push the boundaries of what counts as normal political speech.
but how did republicans settle on the phrase brandon as a qualified substitute for its more vulgar three-word cousin?
started on an Oct. 2 Nascar race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Brandon Brown, a 28-year-old host, had won his first Xfinity Series and was being interviewed by an NBC sports reporter. the crowd behind him was singing something at first difficult to understand. the reporter suggested that they were singing “come on, brandon” to cheer up the driver. but it became increasingly clear that they were saying, “f—- joe biden.”
Nascar and NBC have since taken steps to limit “ambient crowd noise” during interviews, but it was too late: The phrase had already taken off.
When the president visited a construction site in suburban Chicago a few weeks ago to promote his mandate to get vaccinated or tested, protesters used three-word phrases. Last week, Biden’s motorcade passed a “Go Brandon” banner as the President passed through Plainfield, New Jersey.
And a group chanted “Come on, Brandon” outside a Virginia park Monday as Biden made an appearance on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. two protesters ditched the euphemism altogether, holding up hand-drawn signs of the profanity.
Friday morning on a southwest flight from Houston to Albuquerque, the pilot signed his salute over the public address system with the phrase, to audible gasps from some passengers. southwest said in a statement that the airline “prides itself on providing a welcoming, comfortable and respectful environment” and that “behavior by any individual that is divisive or offensive is not condoned.”
veteran gop ad creator jim innocenzi had no qualms about the coded crudeness, calling it “funny”.
“Unless you’re living in a cave, you know what that means,” he said. “but it’s done with a bit of class. and if you object and are taking it too seriously, leave.”
US presidents have endured pettiness for centuries; Grover Cleveland faced chants of “ma, ma, where’s my daddy?” in the 1880s over rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate child. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were the subject of poems that relied on racist tropes and accusations of bigamy.
“We have a sense of the dignity of the office of president that has been consistently violated to our horror throughout American history,” said cal jillson, a political scholar and professor in the political science department at methodist university from the south. . “We never cease to be horrified by some new outrage.”
There were many old outrages.
“f—- trump” graffiti still marks many overpasses in washington, d.c. George W. bush had a shoe thrown in his face. bill clinton was criticized with such fervor that his most vocal critics were labeled “crazy clinton”.
however, the biggest difference between the sentiments thrown at the cleveland grovers of yesteryear and modern politicians is the amplification they get on social media.
“Before the spread of social media a few years ago, there wasn’t an easily accessible public forum to shout out the nastiest and darkest public opinions,” said matthew delmont, a history professor at dartmouth college.
even the racism and vitriol to which former president barack obama was subjected was moderated in part because twitter was relatively new. there was no tiktok As for Facebook, leaked company documents recently revealed how the platform increasingly ignored hate speech and misinformation and allowed it to proliferate.
a part of the us I was angry long before the brandon moment, believing the 2020 presidential election was rigged despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, which has stood the test of recounts and court cases.
But the anger has now gone beyond Trump’s staunch supporters, said Stanley Renshon, a political scientist and psychoanalyst at the City University of New York.
cited the withdrawal from afghanistan, the southern border situation and the school board’s acrimonious debates as situations in which an increasing number of people who were not openly against biden now feel that “how the institutions Americans are telling the American public what they clearly see and understand. be true, in fact it is not true.”
trump has not missed the moment. his save america pac now sells a $45 t-shirt with “go brandon” on an american flag. a message to followers reads: “#fjb or are we going brandon? either way, president trump wants you to have our iconic new jersey.”
Separately, t-shirts are showing up in shop windows with the nascar slogan and logo.
and as for the real brandon, things haven’t been so good. he drives for a team owned by his father, understaffed and underfunded. And while that win, his first career win, was huge for him, the team has long battled for sponsorship and existing partners haven’t been marketing the driver since the tagline.
Associate Press Writers Aamer Madhani, Mary Clare Jalonick, Brian Slodysko, and Will Weissert in Washington and Jenna Fryer in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.