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The Bernie Sanders Effect

Updated: Jan 23

Imagine you're a 79 year old man looking forward to attending Joe Biden's inauguration on a cold January day. You get there early, with your comfy foldable chair, to nab a good spot on the steps of the Capitol. You wear your snuggest coat and put on your favourite pair of mittens, and sit down to enjoy the ceremony. You sit discreetly and quietly and then, suddenly, for no particular reason, you become a meme sensation.

It’s been five days since Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. But, really, we all know that a better way to measure time would be to say that it’s been five days since Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sat cross-legged at the inauguration donning mittens and his now-famous Burton coat.

Sanders, who was runner up to Biden during the primary season, seems to have captivated the world with his practical and cozy inauguration look which was soon turned into 2021's most widespread meme so far. Bernie’s image, taken out of context, was put into famous works of art, playing chess in the Queen's Gambit (the Netflix smash hit), onto album covers, perched on top of buildings, and right in the center of historical events.

And now, as the meme economy runs its due course, there’s merch. The Sanders’ official webstore released a $45 crewneck sweatshirt with the image of the senator sitting on his chair. All proceeds go toward Meals on Wheels Vermont. But this is hot merch: It’s already on a 4-8 week backorder.

But we know that the memecycle is fast moving, and by the time you receive your official sweatshirt, it might be too late. Thankfully there are other options out there, also going to a good cause.

Jewish Currents, a quarterly publication that Sanders himself has written for, has released their $12 ‘Zayde’ mug, with an illustrated image of that infamous inaugural moment. It says that this isn't an endorsement of anything other than 'Sitting Like This'.

There's more: If you’re looking for a special little Valentine for the Bernie lover in your life, look no further than illustrator Joey Perr’s adorable and cheeky “Not me. Us” cards, now updated with mitten stickers. All proceeds will go to the workers who distribute most of New York City’s fruits and vegetables.

Finally, for those who love a good tchotchke, The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is taking pre-orders for its $25 "Bernie Sanders Inauguration Day Bobblehead." This is a long-haul purchase, however - the item won't ship until May.


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