Biden Inauguration

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wearing mittens, attends the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

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Bernie broke the internet.

We needed this. Two-time presidential candidate, and a fierce advocate of fair wages is probably not super psyched that part of his legacy is going to be mittens. But America needed the mittens.

On a chilly Jan. 20, with snow in the air in Washington, D.C., Bernie did the right thing: he donned practical clothing and a pair or warm mittens, since he was going to be sitting in the cold for several hours as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in.

Amid the dark suits and bright coats dotting the Capitol steps, Bernie was photographed sitting masked, cross-legged and bundled up in a bulky coat and mittens.

The photographer Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images posted it online. Literally, within minutes, Bernie was being inserted into a wide array of photographs and scenes from movies and artworks, and so much more.

Bernie became the 2021 version of Where’s Waldo.

According to The New York Times on Thursday, because of his clothing choices he is “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.”

According to the Times, “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.”

So seeing Bernie in the Millennium Falcon, or hanging with the sheep at Sterling College in Craftsbury, all seems a bit surreal. How did this all come to pass?

The mittens were important to him.

Bernie is Bernie.

And despite sounding like he is from New York City, Bernie is so Vermont.

In the photo, he is wearing mittens made out of recycled materials. As many pundits noted, he “pulled off a casual inauguration outfit — and vibe — that only he could.”

Many people quickly highlighted the 79-year-old independent Vermont senator’s look, and created endless memes, from Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which he said was more about keeping warm than fashion.

“You know in Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold, and we’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders told CBS on Wednesday.

As has been widely reported in the past two days (and we hope she has an Etsy page) people were particularly enthralled with Sanders’ mittens, which were made by Jen Ellis, a Vermont elementary school teacher who has a side business making mittens out of recycled wool.

“I love it that he loves them, and that he wears them,” Ellis told one cable TV network. “And I’m totally honored that he wore them today.”

Ellis has never met Sanders. But when her daughter went to a child care center owned by one of his relatives, she was able to slip a pair into Sanders’ hands.

“I think people like a heartwarming story — especially now,” she said when asked about all the attention the mittens were getting on social media.

Sanders donned the mittens while running for president in 2020 and in interviews.

Sanders’ complete inauguration look included a brown winter jacket made by Burton snowboards.

To those who say Bernie was being disrespectful, drop it.

The independent was being just that. It was not a political ploy. It was a practical step toward staying warm while sitting outside. And he was comfortable. Just look at the memes.

But we will say this: Before the Bernie inaugural bobblehead hits the market, President Biden would be well informed to invite the senator in from the cold, and ask him for some counsel on how to keep the progressive base in the ongoing discussions of such issues as health care, livable wage, income inequality, homelessness, and many more issues near and dear to the Democratic Party.

Bernie’s revolution resonated with a lot of Americans who reluctantly voted for Joe Biden. And now, they, too, are looking for practical solutions, and answers that are not left in the cold.

Meanwhile, enjoy the memes. They are hilarious.

— The Rutland Herald / Times Argus

The Rutland Herald / Times Argus


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