Critics say John Fetterman's brain damage turned him into a conservative

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John Fetterman says stroke helped shift political views—sparks crass meme

Fetterman continues to alienate his dwindling progressive base.


Mikael Thalen


Left-wing critics of Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) are sarcastically claiming that his stroke last year may have turned him into a conservative.

During a Friday interview on Real Time with Bill Maher, Fetterman cited his near-death experience as a driving factor in his willingness to push back on progressive ideas.

“It’s freeing in a way,” Fetterman said of the experience. “And I just think after beating all of that, I just really [want to] be able to say the things that I have to really believe in and not be afraid of if there’s any kind of blowback.”

Fetterman’s remarks were quickly picked up by Fox News, which shared the story under a headline titled, “John Fetterman tells Maher that near-death experience ‘freed’ him to speak out, says progressivism ‘left me.’”

Progressive opponents of Fetterman, who have disagree with the politician on recent numerous issues, including his support for Israel, used the story to claim that his changing views were linked to his health issues, joking that brain damage made him conservative.

John Fetterman Brain Damage Meme

“My body cut off blood flow and oxygen to my brain for several minutes. After that, I became a conservative,” one user wrote while mimicking Fetterman.

The post soon racked up more than 1.6 million views on the platform, though the tweet was later deleted. The message was echoed by other progressive Americans, who jokingly shared their guesses on what stirred the change in Fetterman.

“Here me out,” another user said. “He actually died and sold his soul to come back to life.”

“The progressive movement must have had a hell of a revolution in less than seven months for him to switch from a self identified progressive to a conservative,” a second user added.

“John Fetterman admitting brain damage made it easier to embrace conservativism sure puts a lot of those Boomer lead damage jokes into uncomfortable perspective,” wrote one user.

Some users, however, defended the apparent switch from Fetterman.

“I think he’s still mostly liberal, but he seems like he speaks his mind honestly now. Something rare for a politician,” one commenter said. “He seems like a Joe Manchin type of guy now.”

“Hot take: Fetterman is still very much a Democrat, it’s just that he parts with them on a few things now,” an X user wrote. “I applaud any elected leaders who think for themselves more and don’t just parrot the collective platform of their side.”

Fetterman has found himself loved and loathed by both sides of the political spectrum during his short political career. While initially a darling of the left, Fetterman has drawn the ire of progressives in recent months.

Just last month, Fetterman stirred controversy after mocking a young climate activist on video. That same month, Fetterman received praise from the right after speaking out against lab-grown meat, which conservatives believe is part of a global conspiracy to force them to eat bugs.

He also bucked the majority of progressives in launching a full-throated defense of Israel’s war in Gaza.

When Fetterman initially came into office, conservatives regularly attacked him for his lax attire while performing his elected duties.

Now, Fetterman is regularly referred to as “based” by the far-right for his views on topics like the border.

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