Newsweek published an op-ed written by NASCAR driver Brandon Brown today titled “My Name is Brandon”. Brandon is the driver who was interviewed by Kelli Stavast, the NBC News sports reporter, after his first-ever NASCAR victory which he experienced at Talladega Superspeedway. During the interview, some fans began to chant something vulgar aimed at Joe Biden. That chant was heard by Stavast and instead of accurately reporting on it, perhaps for obvious reasons of decorum, she made up a whopper. She said the fans were chanting, “Let’s Go, Brandon!”
The interview quickly went viral and the rest is history. As chants of “F**k you, Biden” spread at popular sports events and other gatherings of crowds by those in opposition to the president, “Let’s Go, Brandon” took over. It’s very popular now because people who aren’t comfortable with the vulgar chant are ok with the G-rated version. Brandon Brown isn’t though, or at least that is what he began saying in his op-ed. He wants to stay out of politics. But, if you read the op-ed, does he really want to do that? He ends it by saying he wants to spotlight the issues important to Americans and his goal is to do so during the next year.
Look, I’m willing to cut the guy some slack here. He’s only 28 years old (I have a son older than that) and before that interview, not interested in politics. This is his first time in the spotlight and he’s a meme. He doesn’t know what he wants or at least how to clearly articulate it. He wants to avoid losing sponsors over politics but then he comes out in favor of speaking out about issues important to Americans, like his fans. It seems to me that as he began to think about the reason for the chant, he began to understand it.
My job is to run the next lap faster than the last one. Politics has never been that interesting to me. Though, like most, I have always had the impression that politicians were likely the cause of more problems than they were the solutions.
These last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why millions of people are chanting my name (I mean, besides my mom, my dad and my late grandfather, who have cheered me on my entire life). “Let’s Go Brandon!” is something I’ve always heard from them, but now it is something about more than just me. I think I understand.
I understand that millions of people are struggling right now and are frustrated. Struggling to get by and struggling to build a solid life for themselves and their families, and wondering why their government only seems to make it worse. People have a right to frustration—even anger.
Listen, I buy more gas than most. I don’t like that $4 per gallon has become the norm. I know the cost of everything is rising and I know first-hand that making ends meet can be a struggle for middle-class folks like me.
I have no interest in leading some political fight. I race cars. I am not going to endorse anyone, and I am certainly not going to tell anyone how to vote.
But I’m also no longer going to be silent about the situation I find myself in, and why millions of Americans are chanting my name. I hear them, even if Washington does not.
He ends the op-ed by saying that 99% of his time will be spent on racing, his career. But, when he has the time and opportunity, he will speak up on issues he thinks are important to millions of Americans. If you ask me, he’s learning that what he first saw as a negative – having his name used in a political chant – can be an opportunity to use the microphone in a positive way. He didn’t do many interviews after his first NASCAR win because he was advised to stay out of the spotlight in order to avoid the publicity. He didn’t want to lose sponsors or be canceled in the media. Clearly, as he now understands, those advisers who thought this would all die down if he didn’t stoke the fire didn’t understand the reason for the chant in the first place.
Brandon is learning a valuable lesson. People who say they are apolitical one day realize that politics is a part of their lives whether they like it or not. And now with our hyper-partisan political environment, politics have infiltrated everything, including sports. He should seize the opportunity if he is inclined to do so. He didn’t start the chant, that’s on the sports reporter. She put it out there during the televised interview. Brandon ends the op-ed with “Let’s Go America.” That’s something his fans and sponsors can appreciate.
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