For a brief few days after the inauguration, it seemed as though the country actually had been unified. Not by Biden’s speech, or the pageantry, or the poetry, but by the virally memed image of Bernie Sanders, sitting by himself in his winter jacket and giant mittens, with his cheap blue mask on crooked, arms and legs crossed. His attire and attitude reflected the opinion that yeah, electing this asshole was probably necessary, but man, is this some bullshit. This is a mainstream opinion in America, as post-election polling shows that even a vast majority of Biden voters are more thankful to have ousted Trump than to have elected Biden.
And so of course, the politician who embodied the dominant sentiment amongst the general public would steal the show, as opposed to the vapid pomp and circumstance that was everything else. Everyone, it seemed, even many on the Right, were delighted by Bernie’s wardrobe and demeanor, creating and posting their own Bernie memes and inviting each other to share a good laugh.
By now, Bernie supporters have come to wait for the other shoe to drop whenever he gets any positive press, and this week, we finally heard from the one faction of the American electorate who found no joy or comfort in his mittens, his coat, his mask, or his posture - the humorless Blue MAGA liberal wokescolds.
These are the people who really were smitten by Michelle’s burgundy coat, and Joe’s “presidential” speech, and who embraced this moment as a genuine “triumph of democracy.” They loved the orchestra, and the poetry recital, and the video of George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama bonding over their shared reverence for the “peaceful transfer of power.” To these people, Bernie’s get-up was a disturbance - a glitch in the matrix that, for an instant, threatened to snap them out of their blue pill (pun intended) reality.
One of these unfortunate people is Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a high school teacher who saw Bernie’s presentation as a display of “white privilege.” In her essay published on January 30th by the San Francisco Chronicle, she paints precisely the picture I speak of, describing hers and her classes’ view of the inauguration as follows:
“We took in the meaning of the day, the vulnerability of democracy, the power of ritual, traditions and the peaceful transition of power.
We talked about gender and the possible meanings of the attire chosen by Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden, the Biden grandchildren, Michelle Obama, Amanda Gorman and others. We referenced the female warriors inspiring these women, the colors of their educational degrees and their monochromatic ensembles of pure power.”
But then, of course, like a splash of cold water to the face:
“And there, across all of our news and social media feeds, was Bernie: Bernie memes, Bernie sweatshirts, endless love for Bernie. I puzzled and fumed as an individual as I strove to be my best possible teacher. What did I see? What did I think my students should see? A wealthy, incredibly well-educated and -privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens.”
Before we go any further, there’s much to be gleaned from these two excerpts. The most revealing words amongst them: “pure power.” Pure power seems to be the fixation of mainstream liberals, who see power itself as the ultimate goal, especially when such power is secured by race and gender groups who are underrepresented in government. How they obtain that power, and how they wield it, are distant secondary and tertiary concerns.
Here, Seyer-Ochi saw Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, and Kamala Harris as symbols of this “pure power,” and therefore, it was their “monochromatic” wardrobe ensembles that should have been the talk of the nation in the days and weeks following the ceremony. When Bernie, in his Vermonter ski jacket and handmade mittens, with his mysterious manilla envelope and paper receipt in hand, won the day, she “puzzled and fumed,” and she “thought her students” should do the same.
And then, the conclusion:
“I am beyond puzzled as to why so many are loving the images of Bernie and his gloves. Sweet, yes, the gloves, knit by an educator. So “Bernie.”
Not so sweet? The blindness I see, of so many (Bernie included), to the privileges Bernie represents. I don’t know many poor, or working class, or female, or struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk who would show up at the inauguration of our 46th president dressed like Bernie. Unless those same folk had privilege. Which they don’t.
The absurdity of her argument is truly a wonder to behold.
The very reason people responded so favorably to the image of Bernie on his chair is precisely because it represented the underprivileged person who never in a million years would dream of scoring an invite to a presidential inauguration. The fact that he showed up looking like “struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk” was exactly the point. The vast majority of Americans, who aren’t so deranged as to be moved to tears by Michelle Obama’s golden belt buckle, got a kick out of seeing someone in the audience who dressed just as they do when they make a grocery run.
Another irony of her thesis: she implies that Bernie takes for granted that he’ll be taken seriously no matter what, yet most liberals like her don’t take Bernie seriously, and never will. If I were an identity politics-obsessed liberal myself, I think I could make a pretty strong case that there’s a fair amount of anti-semitism in the liberal class’ dismissive categorization of Bernie Sanders as a “stubborn,” “loud,” “finger-waving” socialist who’s unelectable in a national race. That aside, the establishment liberal media’s treatment of Bernie ranges from indifference to contempt, as he himself understands (Seyer-Ochi even employs a dismissive tone in her article, i.e, So ‘Bernie’). The main point, though, is that the way Bernie presented himself at the inauguration has nothing to do with how he wishes to be perceived, but rather, is a fitting metaphor for how most Americans perceived the event itself.
Of course, this was an insult to liberals who were invested in viewing this inauguration through rose-tinted glasses. These are the same people who share articles about the Bidens’ dogs, unironically promise to get more sleep now that Biden is president, and whose admiration for Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki is just downright fucking creepy. They had been desperately and anxiously anticipating January 20, 2021 since November 9, 2016. To them, this was a glorious day whose memory should be cherished until the end of time, not soiled by the image of a curmudgeonly old man like Bernie, who many of them blame for Trump’s victory in the first place.
Personally, I love that Ingrid Seyer-Ochi is so upset that Bernie ruined the inauguration for her, and I love that she felt compelled to embarrass herself and liberals like her in front of the entire country by writing such an insipid and transparently fatuous op-ed. I love that the San Francisco Chronicle debased itself by printing it. Because the article proves something I’ve been saying since the first Bernie campaign in 2016: that liberals, not leftists, are the ones who have lost their minds in their obsession with identity politics. In this case, as has been the case several times over the past five years, America’s furthest Left candidate, and his Left supporters, have been targeted by identity politics-crazed liberals, whose actual material agenda is anything but “Left.”
I hope that independents and conservatives who have swallowed the establishment propaganda that the “Left” has gone crazy, will take note of this op-ed, and realize that it’s the centrist liberal establishment Democrats and their media allies like whichever imbeciles at the Chronicle who thought this piece was worth printing, who have gone utterly insane both in their lust for power and their seething hatred for anyone who challenges it, which includes Bernie Sanders and the actual, real-life Left.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images