On Wednesday, January 20, at noon Eastern time, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. He took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and his vice president, Kamala Harris, from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris became the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian person to be elected to the vice presidency of the US.
While President Joe Biden’s inauguration was unlike any other, his messaging repeatedly spoke to a familiar theme: a return to normalcy. Faced with daunting public health and economic crises, Republican opposition in Congress, and a significant segment of the electorate who still has questions about the president’s victory, Biden’s administration has a lot of challenges to tackle as it gets underway.
While the event capped off a packed day- including numerous executive actions and press briefings- the highlight of the day was something, or someone, far from our expectations. It was the very own- our relatable Everyman of the internet– Senator Bernie Sanders. Wearing mittens out of recycled materials and a warm winter jacket, US Sen. Bernie Sanders pulled off an immensely casual inauguration outfit and a vibe that only he could.
Senator’s bulky brown overcoat, which has been immortalized in the “I’m once again asking you” campaign video, led to endless memes that proliferated across social media throughout the inauguration day. This is because, he was able to encapsulate everyone’s moods (both Americans and people from other parts of the world) by simply being himself- looking sort-of cranky, dressed drown, world-weary and tired. Moreover, the senator as well as his outfit showcased how every citizen felt after the cascading horrors of 2020 and the first few weeks of 2021.
Here are some of our favourite Bernie Sanders inauguration memes that will certainly light up your day:
Sanders’s pandemic-appropriate isolation, his patterned brown mittens, and his vaguely dissatisfied “old man yells at capitalism” expression — only partially visible above his surgical mask — combined to produce the meme of the day. Bernie sitting in his chair quickly came to stand in for the audience watching along at home. Something about the image of Sen. Sanders earnestly sitting, in unassuming, unpretentious earth tones made the meme hit with millennials, Gen Z-ers, and online internet citizens across the political spectrum.
The inauguration came just two weeks after the surreal, terrifying January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and the memes seemed to project that Sanders wasn’t there to celebrate in a difficult moment but to get the ritual over with and get back to work. Just as they did throughout 2020, Bernie memes provided an Inauguration Day entry point for many Americans into a fraught political moment. There may be an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and anxiety around the near future, but Bernie and his reliable overcoat offer some much-needed familiarity, reassurance, and warmth (pun intended). And maybe the photo of the Senator being transposed across time and place dropped into historical moments, movies, famous paintings and more, is what the world needs right now.