On one hand, Democrats don’t want Rogan fans because they want to exclude dumb meatheads from the party. On the other hand, they’re opportunists who would be clapping and cheering for Rogan right now if he supported Biden.
When it comes to politics, individuals rarely represent themselves. It’s rare for people to dislike a politician or public figure personally. Most people don’t personally know public figures.
Let’s use the 2020 democratic primary as an example. To the democrats who voted for Biden: they don’t give a shit about Biden. Their vote signified a vote for what Biden represents, and what he represents is the democratic establishment. That’s why as soon as he became the presumptive nominee, people began talking about what democratic elite would be slotted in his place. Cuomo? Harris? It doesn’t matter who, because people who voted for Biden doesn’t care specifically who the nominee is, they just want a Vanilla Democrat to vote for.
This is also why I believe all socialists and communists should have defended Bernie Sanders. They still should, at least until he formally drops out. Even if you don’t support Bernie Sanders because he’s a social democrat and you’re a, say, Marxist-Leninist or left communist, you should still defend him. Because to the republicans and the democratic establishment, Bernie Sanders represents you. To the mainstream American political apparatus, Bernie represents the entire spectrum to the left of the democratic party.
This brings me to Joe Rogan, who has come up several times this election cycle. The first time was when Joe Rogan gave a semi-endorsement of Bernie Sanders, when he said on his podcast that he would probably vote for Bernie. It didn’t exactly bubble up into a controversy until Bernie Sanders took that clip, mixed with some other campaign material related to Joe Rogan, and posted the video package to his twitter.
This led to a multi-week long outrage cycle, which is truly remarkable, considering most newsworthy things now have about an eight hour cycle. The angle was, “literally how dare Bernie Sanders for touting the endorsement of someone who has said…”. They would then fill in the blanks with all of the many offensive things Joe Rogan has said.
Now, keep in mind that Joe Rogan is a shock jock. His podcast isn’t in the conventional shock jock format. He has some stuffy bigwigs as guests like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel’s patsy Eric Weinstein, and he occasionally delves into heady topics. All that being said, his podcast is still marketed as a comedy podcast (despite it rarely even trying to be funny), and he’s still a shock jock.
So, of course Joe Rogan has clips that are highly offensive and insensitive. It’s not exactly part of his job description, but it’s a logical consequence of his job.
The point being, the democratic establishment doesn’t care about what Joe Rogan has said. They know what being a shock jock entails, and they use shock jocks when it helps them. The perfect example is Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance on Howard Stern.
If Howard Stern endorsed Sanders, Democratic apparatuses could pull out even more clips of Stern saying disgusting things than Rogan. And they would do that. They know that there are parts of the democratic base who would be outraged by this, but they also know they won’t be outraged unless those democratic apparatuses direct the base’s attention towards those things.
The impact of this is simple: democrats are hypocrites. They don’t care about people who say nasty things, they just cynically know that their base cares about it. They use those things against their political enemies.
But keep in mind how I started this piece, where I said that public figures don’t represent themselves, they represent ideas or groups of people within the society… that will play in for the rest of the piece.
Joe Rogan became controversial against last week, because on his podcast, he said that he would rather vote for Donald Trump than Joe Biden, because Biden can’t handle anything. We would rely entirely on Biden’s cabinet, and he wouldn’t be a strong individual leader to lead us.
The Democratic elites then disseminated this clip among the democratic base, with the context of “Look who this Bernie Bro is supporting now!”. As if Rogan was a conventional Bernie supporter, as opposed to an “independent” who would have voted for Bernie.
Democrats then did a victory lap, bragging about how justified they were. “Bernie supporters are just like Trump supporters! See? We were right all along!”. Of course, this is a complete warping of events. But what we need to do, is look at why this warping of events took place, why it’s a useful rhetorical tool, and what it represents for society as a whole.
To the democratic elite, Joe Rogan is a symbol of the unwashed masses. He symbolizes meatheads who drive lifted trucks and drink Monster. He symbolizes people who may have taken community college classes but didn’t finish. He symbolizes the mostly poor, mostly dumb, jock/stoner/nerd hybrid. He symbolizes people who aren’t particularly political, but if they are, they usually have at least some right-wing sympathies.
Despite the fact that democrats are constantly talking about winning over republicans, the excoriation of Joe Rogan seems to go against that. Joe Rogan isn’t even a republican either. He’s an “independent” who has a hodge podge of views. This is in the great American tradition of people like Jesse Ventura who are nonpartisan, but have a lot of ideas about how the world should work, collaged together. There are two elements at play here.
First, democrats want neocon Never Trumpers to become democrats, they don’t want “dumb” and poor republicans to become democrats. Democrats have been trying to position themselves as the “smart” party for as long as I can remember. And Joe Rogan doesn’t represent smart people to them.
The issue with this democratic strategy is, most Americans are pretty dumb. You need dumb people on your side to win elections. The other issue is that everyone the democratic elite thinks is smart, are actually dumb as hell.
Secondly, despite that, democrats would be jumping for joy for Joe Rogan if he was like “I love Joe Biden!”. Even though they don’t want the dumb poors in the party, they are still opportunists.
Ultimately, the take-away is simple: the democrats use Joe Rogan (and many people like him) as Schrodinger’s douchebag. He’s presumed to be conservative until he says otherwise. Once he says something to suggest he’s not right-wing, he becomes two things at once. He becomes both the most terrible person ever, if his left-wing position threatens the centrist position, or, he becomes the best person, if his centrist position threatens the leftist position.
You may be thinking “well, the second option didn’t happen, so how is he both at the same time?”
Well the answer comes from a test case mentioned earlier: Howard Stern. Stern let Clinton peddle her centrist PR crap for hours, and we never heard about all the rancid shit he’s broadcasted across the radio. Joe Rogan fleetingly advocated for Bernie Sanders, and both of them were condemned and scorned relentlessly. Imagine the roles were reversed: Rogan had Clinton on his podcast, and Stern fleetingly advocated for Bernie Sanders (which he has done in the past, by the way, it just was awhile ago, and didn’t get sucked into the discourse machine). In that scenario, we’d be getting condemnation of Stern instead.