Opinion: The official mood of 2021: Bernie Sanders on Inauguration Day (graphic)

We have all seen it: Bernie Sanders sitting in a folding chair, arms crossed, sporting his fashion staples of a brown coat and hand-knitted mittens. Over the last few days, the iconic image from the 2021 Inauguration Day has taken over the internet, with new and creative interpretations showcasing Bernie in all his glory. The meme is a prime example of how we should interpret 2021.

This Bernie Sanders meme has come at the perfect time — subversively, it speaks volumes. We see someone who is practical yet inspires creativity, sustainability and social justice work that we have ahead of us. Senator Sanders is known for his progressive political stance, yet his clothing choices for the Inauguration were perfectly simplistic. Bernie Sanders' practical outerwear exemplifies someone who values their comfort whilst watching democracy prevail.

One of the iconic pieces of said Bernie photo is his handmade mittens, knit for Senator Sanders by Vermont schoolteacher Jen Ellis. This is an uncomplicated and important instance of supporting a local business that creates a sustainable product. Ellis explained that the gloves were made from repurposed wool and a fleece lining created from recycled plastic bottles.

2021 needs to be the year we further support local businesses and demand that big businesses employ sustainability within their work environments, as well as the products they sell. Although such a simplistic item, Senator Sanders' bespoke knit gloves represent the sustainable possibilities within the fashion industry if we are willing to spend the time and money to make a difference. Ms. Ellis' gloves combine the powerful force of repurposed materials with unique designs to serve as the ultimate winter accessories. If a small business owner can employ eco-friendly practices, surely multi-million dollar companies can follow suit.

The multitude of creative interpretations of Inauguration Bernie Sanders provided some much-needed positivity within the all-too-easily depressing news cycle. According to CNN, memes included Sanders, “waiting at the nail salon; Bernie next to Churchill at Yalta; Bernie on the park bench with Forrest Gump; Bernie sitting on an I-beam with a 1930's skyscraper crew suspended over New York City; Bernie with the Golden Girls; at someone's kitchen table with a bottle of milk; with Big Bird; with Spiderman; being painted by Bob Ross.” Who knew something so simple could bring a smile to our faces?

CNN writes, “Bernie Sanders -- the long-serving, self-described democratic socialist, the scourge of economic inequality and now the powerful incoming chairman of the Senate Budget Committee -- has inadvertently provided us with something we have been robbed of for the past four years, good old-fashioned laughter.” 2021 needs to be the year that we choose to be optimistic about our current situation as it relates to our future.

The hilariously simplistic picture of Senator Sanders stands as a reminder that we don’t need to overcomplicate things to get our point across. In recent years, the two main political parties of our country have become so divided, that it has become difficult to provide support for the people who need it most. We need to stop wasting time and instead focus on continued COVID-19 relief and a more productive vaccine rollout.

The New Yorker writes, “Sander’s anti-fashion felt, in a way, like an anchor—a reminder, after a day full of celebration and palpable, almost ecstatic relief, that there is still much work to be done.” Although we have joyously welcomed in a new year and new president, we are still in the midst of a global crisis. Like Bernie’s fashion choices, we need to be practical and succinct. 2021 is the year we need to fight for what is important. The pandemic has left many feeling drained, yet the world that we know continues to move on. Like Senator Sanders' realistic wardrobe, we need to take concise and pragmatic actions to return to some sense of normality.

2021 is the year we allow ourselves to unite over our differences. We need to take the time to bond over Bernie Sanders and his blunt Inauguration Day wardrobe. CNN reporter Judy Gold explains, “comedy is an uniter that evens out the playing field. It relieves stress and tension, and it's truly the best medicine.”

So for everyone who needs some inspiration for their week, spend some time with your favorite Inauguration Bernie Sanders meme and reflect on the important things in your life. Let it be the mood of 2021, guiding you along a path that will have bumps along the way but inspires us to have fun in life. If, like me, you are letting Inauguration Bernie inspire you, look into buying a sweatshirt, with his meme, from the Bernie campaign store. All proceeds from the sweatshirts will benefit Meals on Wheels in Vermont, thus by embodying the Inauguration Bernie spirit you are giving back to those in need. With all this in mind; stay inside, take care of yourself and others and continue to emulate Bernie by wearing your mask.

This is the opinion of Caroline Thoms, a sophomore English major from Chicago. Email comments to vbackerperal@theloyolan.com. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.

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