On the day the city of Boston witnessed transformational change — the historic election of Michelle Wu as mayor — those who went to cast their ballot at a polling station in West Roxbury Tuesday came across a highway sign with a message that has been amplified of late by those on the right: “Lets Go Brandon.”
The appearance of the seemingly cryptic slogan outside of Holy Name Parish was a startling disruption to observers, WBZ first reported. A euphemism for an obscenity directed at President Biden, the saying has taken flight on a national scale over the past month or so among conservative groups, with even select members of Congress touting the phrase.
The meme apparently sprung to life during a NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway that took place on Oct. 2 — when driver Brandon Brown, who had just clinched his first national series victory, was interviewed by NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast on camera. During the conversation, those in the grandstands can distinctly be heard shouting “F*** Joe Biden,” but Stavast instead suggested that they are cheering him on with the words, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Stavast has not publicly commented on the matter, and it is unclear whether she misheard what was being said or if she was attempting to steer attention away from the expletives being shouted out on live television. But after the incident, the phrase quickly took off.
It has since become a rallying cry chanted and displayed on signs at sporting events, emblazoned across apparel, and popularized on social media platforms including TikTok, particularly among supporters of former president Donald Trump.
For example, South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan shared a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a “Let’s Go Brandon” mask and decried both vaccine mandates and immigration policies in place. Florida Representative Bill Posey concluded a speech with the phrase on the House floor after lambasting the Biden administration. And Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado wore a dress adorned with the phrase recently.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz — who has also been memed in the past — posted a photo of himself on Twitter at Game 2 of the World Series, where he stood next to another Houston Astros fan holding a sign with the slogan. Even governors, namely two of the president’s loudest opponents — Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — have made use of the phrase.
The phrase has become popularized with everyday citizens, too. Protestors in Connecticut hurled obscenities at Biden while he was surrounded by children at an event in Hartford in October, and a crowd opposed to vaccine mandates in New York called out “Let’s go Brandon” that same month. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines is conducting an internal investigation after the Associated Press reported the pilot used the phrase to sign off over the public address system.
The anti-Biden slogan comes at a difficult time for the president. He’s also facing infighting within his party and contending with polling numbers that reveal the majority of Americans disapprove of his performance in office. Between the resurgence of the coronavirus and the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden has had a rocky summer and fall.
Shannon Larson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.