Every big event now has a picture or two that spins off into an internet meme. But what started as a series of photos of Sen. Bernie Sanders arriving at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration in typical Bernie fashion has evolved into so much more.
Serving what one Twitter user aptly described as “dressed to stand on line at the post office” chic, Sanders rolled up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday wearing a familiar beige coat, patterned mittens and a face mask, with a manilla envelope tucked underneath his arm. Strikingly casual amid a sea of inauguration day refinery, it was a look that immediately caught the internet’s eye.
The photo of Sanders making his way down the Capitol steps was enough to get the meme train rolling. However, once a second shot of the bundled up senator perched cross-legged on his socially distanced folding chair made its way online, the Democratic presidential primary candidate officially became the viral star of the day. It wasn’t long before Bernie memes were, to put it lightly, everywhere.
Out on the town having the time of my life with a bunch of friends pic.twitter.com/Qu7UpVTKgQ
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 20, 2021
“This could’ve been an email” pic.twitter.com/kn68z6eDhY
— Ashley K. (@AshleyKSmalls) January 20, 2021
He said some of us have a JOB https://t.co/Jd162baBbU
— 21 Lakyn (@OgLakyn) January 20, 2021
When your grandson’s violin recital is running long pic.twitter.com/dTBuCw8EGT
— Clue Heywood (@ClueHeywood) January 20, 2021
showing up to an inauguration with what can only be described as "errands", an incredible power move pic.twitter.com/tf3iqK0fK4
— Matt Buechele (@mattbooshell) January 20, 2021
The story behind Sanders’ instantly iconic (and cold weather-practical) look also began to circulate. Internet sleuths quickly unearthed the fact that not only did Bernie appear to be wearing the same coat from his infamous “I am once again asking” campaign ad (a legendary meme in itself), but that his mittens had been gifted to him by a Vermont teacher who made them out of repurposed wool sweaters and recycled plastic bottles.
— Sara Luterman (@slooterman) January 20, 2021
Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. pic.twitter.com/ErLr29lY2t
— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) January 20, 2021
As the day wore on, social media creatives worked to evolve “Bernie Sanders in a Chair” beyond the confines of a standard meme. Mere minutes after Biden was officially sworn in as President, a Twitter user had already created a transparent PNG of the image to allow others to easily photoshop Bernie into whatever scene they wanted. Soon after, Bernie was popping up everywhere from the Last Supper to album covers to New York City street corners.
— chelsea (@chelsealeite) January 20, 2021
— Madeline Carl (@madeline__carl) January 20, 2021
some album covers with cold Bernie pic.twitter.com/teg6TWBdXV
— Pigeons & Planes (@PigsAndPlans) January 20, 2021
— DanCase (@Dan_Case) January 20, 2021
Not me. Us. pic.twitter.com/ec7XgfEl7b
— Guy Fieri (@GuyFieri) January 21, 2021
The best Bernie memes I saw pic.twitter.com/mwq6stLV7Z
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) January 21, 2021
A few hours later, another ingenious Bernie fan had created a Snapchat lens that allowed users to place Bernie in a chair smack dab in the middle of their own homes (or anywhere else they happened to be). What better motivator to get some work done than the vision of a harried politician staring at you from across the room?
Snapchat lens creators always come through pic.twitter.com/p5scP5lQv4
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) January 20, 2021
There’s a new Snapchat filter for the Bernie-inauguration meme, and he apparently feels the same as my wife about how I set the thermostat. pic.twitter.com/C8Vtyk8XPA
— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) January 20, 2021
— nick (@nick_sawhney) January 21, 2021
In the natural cycle of popular internet trends, Bernie in a chair was popping up on various forms of merch by the end of the night. You can now sip coffee out of a mug featuring Bernie and his mittens every morning if you so desire.
The mug for a bris, a shiva, a long line at Zabar's, a protracted and infuriating call with your insurance provider. This isn't an endorsement of anything other than sitting Like This.https://t.co/djKxnRye2S pic.twitter.com/NU3kb3qEL9
— Jewish Currents (@JewishCurrents) January 20, 2021
The only comment Sen. Sanders has made thus far seems to be a pretty on brand Instagram post. In a short video, he answers a question about his fashion by calling for the Senate to pass $2,000 coronavirus relief checks for every adult in America.
No response could’ve encapsulated Bernie’s inauguration day energy more.