Culture Wars/Current Controversies

‘Let’s go, Brandon’ and the politics of degradation

By Damon Linker, The Week

Family of mine in the rural Midwest recently told me they’ve begun to see flags flying outside private homes bearing the message, “F–k Biden.” Underneath that statement, in smaller typeface, the thought continues: “…and f–k you for voting for him.”

If you’re surprised that politics has descended to such depths, you haven’t been paying attention.

I first noticed the shift into the politics of vulgarity and insult in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election, when I occasionally began to see bumper stickers in the suburbs west of Philadelphia that read, “F–k your feelings. Donald Trump for President.” Five years later, similar expressions are far more widespread, at least in some parts of the country. When I tweeted just before Christmas about what my midwestern family had told me, some of my followers confirmed seeing the flags — in the Cincinnati area, in Michigan, in eastern Ohio. (Try your own search for the flags on Google images. You’ll find numerous variations. This is big business.)

And of course, such flags are just a blunter, less euphemistic version of the “Let’s go, Brandon!” phenomenon. When a caller used that expression to President Joe Biden’s face during a livestream on Christmas Eve, it prompted widespread cheers on the right.

This is bad, and for multiple reasons. It’s bad to spew vulgarity in public spaces, whether or not it’s concealed by a modestly clever slogan. But it’s worse to teach other Americans, especially children, that it’s acceptable to practice politics by hurling insults at those on the other side of partisan disagreements.

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