Opinion: Joe Rogan endorsing Bernie Sanders isn’t a bad thing

Rogan’s endorsement of the senator’s presidential bid shows how Democrats can broaden their appeal.


Katina Zentz

An attendee holds up a sign during the Iowa City Climate Rally held by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at the Graduate hotel on Sunday, January 12, 2020. Sanders discussed his climate policies, the impact of climate change, the Green New Deal, and the dangers of climate inaction in the government.

Peyton Downing, Columnist

Podcasting has become an incredibly influential medium in today’s society. According to Edison Research, more than one in five people who listen to podcasts daily have a lot of influence on public opinion. One such podcaster, Joe Rogan, recently endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for president. Some people criticize the endorsement, but they’re wrong to do so.

Rogan is an interesting figure, and he interviews interesting personalities. Sometimes, the most polite way to describe these personalities is “controversial.”

These include the likes of neo-Nazi sympathizer Milo Yiannopolis, Proud Boy founder Gavin McInnes, and fake news generator Andy Ngo. 

But most of his guests aren’t them. Leftist political talk show host Kyle Kulinski, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and philosopher Cornel West have appeared on the show — not to mention Sanders himself.

Interviewing controversial figures is not inherently a bad thing, but Rogan’s method of interviewing can do more harm than good. He often lets his guest lead the discussion and go on their own tangents and does not push back on their ideas. This lack of critical analysis of his guests’ view can lead to listeners thinking that he is endorsing their viewpoints. 

Platforming is an incredibly risky action. While it can shed light on issues and viewpoints that need to be examined, not doing so can expose viewers to toxic ideologies that poison public discourse.

Rogan himself has also said some questionable things on his show, such as calling a transgender female athlete a man

These are legitimate concerns about Rogan’s podcast. He has brought on figures who I personally believe to be individuals whose sole purpose is to spread misinformation and bad beliefs. He does not push back on ideas that he should and does not have “politically correct” takes.

Rogan has also spoken out in favor of socialized education and health care. “If it cost $35,000 a year to pursue a career in comedy and you gotta be $200,000 in debt before making a career on the road, there wouldn’t be a god damn thing to laugh at,” he said in a podcast.

In a democracy, voters win. It seems obvious to point out, but it seems necessary based on some of the responses Rogan’s endorsement has garnered.

In 2020, the Democratic Party will need every advantage it can get. A reelection for President Trump will eradicate any standing the United States has in an international setting while also being a domestic disaster.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, we will have to appeal to as many people as possible — the disaffected, the libertarian-leaning, the apathetic. Rogan reaches all of these people. To reject what he brings to the table is to reject a massive swath of the American population. While not everyone agrees on every left policy, many at least agree with one.

If the Democrats are to beat Trump in November, they will need all hands on deck. They cannot afford to play gatekeeper and purity test everyone who wants to oppose the GOP.

It’s not as though Sanders has reneged on any previous policy of his either. He has maintained his commitment to being a progressive candidate for decades. Sanders has made no concessions in order to achieve this endorsement.

In 2020, the Democratic tent will have to be big — the biggest seen in years — to win back the White House. They’re going to share spaces with people whom they might not want to associate. But that’s what it will take to get the White House out of the hands of white nationalists. 

Once the election is over, everyone can go back to calling each other social-justice warriors and problematic. But for now, we must work together to bring a future that is free of a corrupt White House.