BURLINGTON, VT — The memes were funny. Bernie was everywhere. On the moon, next to Forrest Gump, and even as a fly on Mike Pence’s head.
Maybe the memes showing a bundled-up Bernie sitting distanced from others on a cold Inauguration Day will have lasting appeal in pop culture. Maybe they’ll fade away. We’ll see.
What we do know is these ridiculously popular memes of Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading to some positive change in the world.
It might be what the millions of Bernie supporters in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries had in mind for a Sanders presidency. Ah, well — what could have been.
The mittens, though, have finished second to none this past week and a half on the internet. They have their own Twitter account and are using their 15 minutes of fame to promote Bernie’s progressive policies.
They’re even helping pay for someone’s college education — one that Bernie fans would say should be free, of course.
Jen Ellis, the Vermont elementary school teacher who knitted the Bernie mittens for him, made three more pairs in the days since the ones he wore at the inauguration of President Joe Biden were photoshopped in just about every viral moment in world history.
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All three are up for auction on eBay as fundraisers for charitable causes. One of them — the one to help pay for Ellis’ daughter’s college tuition — is already going for more than $2,000.
Within five days of the inauguration, the Bernie everywhere phenomenon had raised $1.8 million for Vermont charities. The Sanders campaign has a limited inventory of merchandise with the iconic image on its website.
The proceeds raised have supported charities such as Meals on Wheels throughout Vermont, the Vermont Parent Child Network and senior centers in the Green Mountain State. Ellis — the creator of the mittens — is helping support Outright Vermont and Passion 4 Paws Vermont by auctioning off the other two mittens she just made.
At this rate, is it possible this craze could lead to… a college education for everyone? Medicare for all? The cancellation of all student loan debt? A universal $15 an hour minimum wage?
Let’s not get carried away. Bernie has a way to go before he reaches the meme gold standard, the Crying Michael Jordan.