Bernie Sanders showed up at the inaugeration as ……… well ……… Bernie Sanders, in a coat and mittens that he has worn for quite some time and a high order meme detonation occurred:
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a fierce advocate of fair wages and a former presidential candidate who lost the Democratic nomination to now-President Biden. And thanks to his practical clothing choices he is also now the center of a seemingly endless flood of altered pictures that dominated some corners of the internet in the hours after Mr. Biden’s socially distanced inauguration on Wednesday.
Amid the dark suits and bright coats dotting the Capitol steps, Mr. Sanders was photographed sitting masked, cross-legged and bundled up in a bulky coat and mittens against the frigid weather in Washington, D.C. Soon after, the image, taken by the photographer Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images, began to circulate on social media inserted into a wide array of photographs and scenes from movies and artworks.
On a day all about Mr. Biden, it was in some ways appropriate that Mr. Sanders, whose strongest political support in the presidential race came from young voters, would nonetheless be the star of the day’s biggest meme by doing nothing but sitting and crossing his arms. In their primary competition, Mr. Sanders enjoyed a significantly larger online following than Mr. Biden, especially among those who often communicate through memes.
Though other memes starring Mr. Sanders were often used to say something — he wore what appears to be the same coat in a 2019 fund-raising video in which he is “once again asking for your financial support,” a line that has been repurposed in a litany of ways — there was no such deeper meaning to the newest meme. Instead of using his image to make an argument, he was simply placed into new contexts, with his pose, outfit and expression themselves serving as the joke.
Just a quick note, if you think that those mittens are fabulous, and they are, don’t contact the teacher who made them as a gift asking for some, she has a day job.
BuzzFeed News reported that Mr. Sanders got his mittens from Jen Ellis, a second-grade teacher in Essex Junction, Vt., who made gloves on the side. She said she sent him a pair after he lost a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Ms. Ellis tweeted that the mittens were made from repurposed wool and lined with fleece.
In an interview with CBS, Mr. Sanders laughed off the attention.
“In Vermont, we dress, we know something about the cold,” he told Gayle King. “And we’re not so concerned about good fashion. We just want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today.”
The reason that this meme has exploded is because, as Bradley Whitford notes, “They know he would have worn exactly the same thing if he had won the presidency. “