President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated and sworn in to office yesterday. That was sure nice. People sang songs. Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Amanda Gorman recited a beautiful poem that was rightfully considered by virtually everyone watching to be the highlight of the ceremony. There were even fireworks and celebrities. But for my money, the Bernie Sanders meme won the day. I found more joy in the Bernie memes popping up in my Twitter feed than I did in the reality of Donald Trump bathing in one last bucket of KFC on Air Force One while he squirmed with anxiety in his inability to Tweet.
I have never voted for Bernie Sanders. I was relieved that he wasn’t the Democratic nominee for President. I think he is too rigid in his dogma, unrealistic in his expectations, and inflexible in his tactics. And I think he can be condescendingly incredulous. Often contorting the intentions of pragmatic people who question the feasibility of his policy proposals into an attack on the goals of his proposals — a disingenuous trait many of his most ardent supporters have magnified to absurd degrees. As if helping the poor and underserved in America requires a blind fidelity to the “what”, with no scrutiny on the “how”.
But everything I love about Bernie Sanders is captured in those memes. And it has nothing to do with the mocking Twitter taunts that he looked like a grumpy loner. Although, as a fellow grumpy loner, I like that about him too.
There was Bernie, dressed like a normal dude, sitting normally in a normal chair, wearing warm normal mittens that an elementary teacher and supporter knitted for him after he lost the 2016 nomination, being normal. Just sitting. Pleasantly! Waiting for the pomp and pageantry to start, so he could finally get on with his day. And a meme was born.
Bernie being Bernie. The epitome of the zen of Bernie.
I love that Bernie’s “Sunday best” outfit looks like the same outfit he would throw on to go pick up his prescriptions and some Werther’s Originals at the CVS. I love that Bernie Sanders isn’t in Congress because he is excited by fame or aroused by the intrigue of power. I love that Bernie Sanders in not here for your nonsense. That he is tired by your meaningless customs of self-aggrandizement and feels no need to join in with your prattle. Bernie Sanders does not care when your birthday is — though he admits this part of the reason he has been a relatively ineffectual legislator — and I love it.
Bernie Sanders goes to the circus, undistracted by the acrobatics and fireballs, he spends his time wondering if the people who put up the tent are paid a fair wage.
I find that level of unyielding commitment to a guiding principle admirable.
Bernie Sanders buys his clothes from Costco and I find his ambivalence to extravagance absolutely delightful.
Bernie Sanders is a normal dude with a fierce inclination to bend government towards policies and legislation that will help normal people. Given the choice to bask in the sight and sounds of DC’s pageantry, or ponder the ills of America’s wealth inequality, Bernie Sanders doesn’t even hesitate.
I would very much like many more normal humans like Bernie in Congress, even if I disagree with them severely on important topics. I would very much like more normal humans in Congress who care less about what inaugural outfits people are talking about on Twitter and more about how Congressional committee assignments will affect governmental reform, even if they don’t care when my birthday is.
Congress needs more normal humans like Bernie Sanders.