Why the Internet Broke for Bernie Sanders's Mittens

The psychology behind the memes that stole the show and our hearts

Posted Jan 22, 2021

Shutterstock/Nicoleta Ionescu
The most understated Senator made perhaps the biggest statement
Source: Shutterstock/Nicoleta Ionescu

Wednesday brought on massive sighs of relief and so many moments to soothe worn out psyches. There was Kamala, Gaga, and Amanda Gorman. And not a whiff of apocalyptic vibes in the air. With so much to talk about: Lady Gaga’s brooch, Ashley Biden’s tuxedo, the magic of Amanda Gorman and JLo, what was it about the Vermont Senator’s wooly mittens made of recycled bottles that stole the show in the midst of pomp and circumstance?

We cannot get enough. Most of my friends and I are only communicating through Bernie memes. Both sides are posting them, and we’re laughing together for the first time in four long years. 

I’ve officially declared my love language as Bernie Sanders Mitten Memes. I can’t pick out a favorite: there’s the Golden Girls, Pam from The Office sleeping on his shoulder, Amy Schumer’s birth pic, Where’s Waldo?, Samantha Irby’s captions, Sex in the City, The Lion King, and Star Wars. Please keep sending them. If my phone breaks, so be it.

We were certainly overdue for a good bipartisan laugh. The break from the typical hate and bickering has been like Xanax for the soul. Besides the fact that the internet has not been this fun for a long time, here are three reasons the most understated Senator is the most talked about:

He already had a cult following. The longstanding Vermont Senator is known for his no-nonsense, no-frills ways. His slogan is “not me, us”, one that distinctively differs within the political landscape. He has consistently focused on the rights of the working class and fought tirelessly for justice and peace. His stellar policies are known for taking an unwavering stance towards ensuring human rights are protected. He has long been adored and revered and Inauguration Day was not the first mittens sighting or meme trending moment in the spotlight he tries to buck. 

Authenticity is hard to come by. Real is rare and beautiful. Whether you agree with the Senator’s policies or not, he does not put on heirs or want attention directed towards him. In a world full of fabrication, curated images, and false pretenses, it is refreshing to see a leader embody humility and a relentless focus on people, not power over. Real humility is what we need.

Humor can help heal trauma. We have been living with heaps of trauma that have eroded basic manners, civil dialogue, mental health, well-being, socioeconomic stability and violated BIPOC persons, LGBTQ persons, and underrepresented groups. These serious, urgent issues require ongoing collective action and cannot simply be cured by adorable memes. Still, it is vital that we leverage humor as a tool to cope with the stressors at hand and seek common ground. Perhaps if we all put our mittens on, we can lay aside the boxing gloves for just a little longer and maybe even find some work gloves to rebuild our country together.