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Port: On Brandon, and whether or not he should go

Think of it this way: If you see or hear something that makes you upset, that's just an example of the First Amendment working as intended.

Noem Let's Go.jpg
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is shown holding up a "Let's Go Brandon" T-shirt with South Dakota businessman and Noem supporter Terry Schultz at a recent event. Photo from Terry Schultz's Twitter feed

MINOT, N.D. — I don't need to fill you in on the "Let's go Brandon" chants or what they're "code" for.

The debate they've engendered is whether or not they should be allowed, and the answer to that is of course they should. If we can't insult our President, then we aren't the country we aspire to be.

Enacting reprisals against people who insult Dear Leader, be it through official government channels or the actions of social media posses out for revenge, is the stuff of authoritarian regimes and the cults of personality they cultivate around their heads of state.

We live in America, not North Korea.



  • Port: Why don't violent pipeline protests receive the same scrutiny as violent Trump protests? The news media's uneven approach to covering political extremism is a big part of what's dividing this country.

  • Port: Flood of anti-vaccine and other culture war bills proposed for special session With each day of the special session estimated to cost taxpayers $100,000, some lawmakers have proposed debates over a laundry list of controversial topics.

  • Port: The North Dakota Growth Fund's first investment is in ... St. Louis? The North Dakota Growth Fund was created to direct Legacy Fund dollars to investments in North Dakota, with a preference to be given in that process to North Dakota financial management firms. So far we have California-based Callan recommending Chicago-based 50 South Capital which, in turn, has selected as its first investment a St. Louis-based firm with some nebulous connection to North Dakota that nobody involved in the deal is willing to define.

Besides, name-calling, for all the pearl-clutching it evokes, is a proud tradition that dates back to the Founders.
John Adams was called, during the election of 1800, a "bald, blind, crippled, toothless man" who was "importing mistresses from Europe" when he wasn't trying to marry off one of his sons to a daughter of King George. A surrogate for Thomas Jefferson also referred to Adams as a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."

The Adams camp, for their part, suggested that if Jefferson won the election, robbery, rape, murder, and incest would be "openly taught and practiced."

These attacks on two great men of honor and character were abhorrent, of course, though possessed of a degree of creativity and eloquence missing from the "Let's go Brandon" stuff, which smacks of a bunch of middle schoolers calling one another "ass," offering giggling disclaimers that it's not profane because they mean "donkey" and not, you know, a butt.

George W. Bush was called Chimpy McHitlerburton.

Barack Obama was lampooned by a rodeo clown .

The oranged-tinted blimp baby that was used to mock Donald Trump is now in a museum .


If I have a criticism of the "let's go Brandon" stuff, beyond the fact that it's as vacuous a slogan as it is puerile and juvenile, is that the people deploying it lack the courage of their convictions.

If you want to say "f--- Joe Biden ," just say it, you cowards.

One of the punditocracy's favorite tropes is the supposed "coarsening" of American politics, a thing they contribute to as often as they disdain it. The "let's go Brandon" stuff has the left clutching their pearls now that they've conveniently forgotten the many rhetorical outrages they perpetrated on people like Sen. Mitt Romney and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan .

When Trump was in office it was the right fainting into the bushes when the mean people said mean things.

And so it goes.

The most confounding thing about this whole sorry episode, aside from the depressing amount of media coverage it has received, is that everyone is fine with insults as long as they're not directed at their preferred candidates and leaders.


Hypocrisy abounds, my friends.

Decorum and respectful dialogue should be the hallmarks of politics, but there's never really been a time when that was true. We should still strive that ideal, sure, but the sausage-making of politics has always been a dirty business, and we should also stop feigning surprise and outrage when it continues to be thus.

Think of it this way: If you see or hear something that makes you upset, that's just an example of the First Amendment working as intended.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a columnist and podcast host for the Forum News Service. Reach him at
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