So Joe Rogan kinda sorta ‘endorsed’ Bernie Sanders. And the Sanders campaign picked up on that, and circulated the video of the endorsement. Rogan is hardly a ideological ‘pure’ figure. His podcast has had guests associated with the alt-right. He himself has said some things that can be construed as transphobic. That said, his influence and reach is not to be reckoned with. His audience isn’t really right wing or centrist. They are frequently cognizant of the fundamental inequalities in society, but they don’t consider themselves left-wing due to their wariness of so-called identity politics.
So when Sanders signal boosted the Rogan endorsement, it caused a bit of a stir, even among progressives, even among trans people. The act of accepting Rogan’s endorsement is a tactical one. Rogan’s influence would likely bring many many votes in favour of Sanders. The acceptance of the endorsement implicitly suggests that these votes are more important than the feelings of trans people.
The thing is, the votes are kinda more important though? If those votes help make Sanders the democratic presidential candidate, then the hope of a Sanders presidency grows brighter. The feelings of people who are hurt are… well feelings. They are not invalid. They are not unimportant, but in consideration of how to respond to hurt that has been caused, factors beyond the hurt itself need to be considered.
Is Rogan a figure to be ‘cancelled’? His podcast has certainly been hurtful in various ways, but I don’t think he is motivated by malice. Like his audience, he’s just ignorant. This is evident in his interviewing style. He allows guests to talk without end. Rarely does he disagree or question the claims made by his guests, even when they are so clearly wrong. By exposing himself to guests of wildly varying perspectives and claims, he and his audience end up ideologically rudderless. They have no comprehensive and consistent understanding of the system of the world.
This can be exploited.
Rogan’s audience and Rogan himself understand class inequalities, thus the Sanders endorsement. Now they just need to understand that minority issues and identity politics are part of the same system of inequalities. That’s not impossible.