Many on the far right have adopted a new political theme, “Let’s Go Brandon.” Innocuous? Hardly. While free speech remains a valued American principle, this phrase poses yet another threat to our democracy.  

On October 2 at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, driver Brandon Brown won his first Xfinity Series stock car race. NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast reported the crowd chanting, “Let’s Go Brandon.” The crowd actually was howling, “Fuck Joe Biden.”

Some conservatives now hurl this personal and ugly insult towards a president who, while a Democrat, is a centrist. During and after the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden held out a hand to Republicans. Most spurned it. On October 21, Republican Representative Bill Posey (Florida), concluded a House floor speech with, “Let’s go Brandon.” Can American politics plummet to even greater depths? 

On October 28 at a Senate hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) defended Nazi salutes at local protests. Cruz asked Garland, who is Jewish, if that was permitted under the First Amendment. Garland, affirming the law even for repellant speech, answered yes.

Does Cruz really believe that Nazi salutes are okay? I don’t know. But some in the pro-Trump base he courts obviously do. To hell with decency.

I’m fearful that my novel 2084 (set in the year 2044) does more than represent satiric fiction—the Covenantal States of America ruled by a white-Christian oligarchy. It may foreshadow what looms ahead. As liberals and conservatives continue squaring off in a culture war, the United States may undergo a major change that splinters the nation. 

I can see blue stats and red coalescing into regions—four? five? six?—pledged to laws and agreements that almost—but don’t—abrogate the Constitution. De facto, the United States becomes the Regional States of America. The federal government continues to levy taxes but chiefly for the national defense. States provide financial resources to their regional “governments”—or don’t. Regions, not trusting Washington or each other, upgrade and coordinate their state National Guards.

Americans continue to freely travel and do business among the regions but face difficult choices. With varying regional approaches to law and culture in the absence of agreed-upon national norms, many people migrate out of regions in which they feel voiceless and increasingly uncomfortable. They flock to others that espouse their values, often leaving the states in which they were born or long lived.

The regions, prompted by economic considerations, find ways to co-exist. Nonetheless, animosity strains their relationships. 

Meanwhile, China points to the virtual break-up of the United States and assumes the mantle of world leadership. Europe, absent the U.S., seeks a non-confrontational approach to international relations and steps aside. 

Optimists remain among us. Jon Grinspan, a curator of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, wrote a New York Times opinion piece, “What We Did the Last Time We Broke America” (10-29-21). American politics were equally disjointed in the Nineteenth Century, according to Grinspan. Progress in the Twentieth brought a new stability. That’s now unraveling. Grappling with our demanding system of government is, well, normal. Partly because we’re following the unusually calm Twentieth century, we don’t feel up to the task. But we can do it. 

Let’s start with responsible conservatives saying, “Let go of Brandon. Let’s go America!”

Order my new novel 2084 in softcover or e-book from Amazonbarnesandnoble.com or your favorite bookstore.

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  1. Tracy on November 5, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Excellent thoughts, David. I would only add that your scenario above is problematic on several Constitutional levels. Not the least of which would be the Commerce Clause, which allows us to travel freely among the States and to do business without much State (or “regional” if you prefer) interference.

    Nonetheless, there are some distinctly attractive results of your hypothetical future America. Chiefly, the likelihood of a less burdensome Federal budget and its incumbent taxation. But, another discussion for another day.

    Gut Shabbos!


    • David Perlstein on November 5, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Tracy. But since when do Americans let the Constitution get in the way when legal outs can be found?

  2. David Newman on November 6, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Maybe it would be a nice gesture if some famous Brandons (Brown, Belt, Crawford for starters) said, “Not in my name. Pick someone else for a dog whistle.”

    • David Perlstein on November 6, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      David, that would be a great gesture.

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