It’s in the low 40s in Washington, DC, yet most of the crowd surrounding Joe Biden on the West Front of the Capitol Building during the inauguration looked like they didn’t mind the cold at all. Garth Brooks was in jeans, Lady Gaga wasn’t wearing a coat, and there was barely a hat in sight. Further away from the sleek peacoats and big smiles, however, you could find a few people who were really dressed appropriately. Incoming Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was spotted huddled under a blanket, but no one seemed to reflect exactly what it really feels like to sit through a long outdoor ceremony better than Bernie Sanders, whose donned thick mittens made by a Vermont teacher and a putty-colored coat pulled up to his ears.
At first, viewers noticed that the coat looks a lot like the one that Sanders wore in a video that became a meme last year:
On Twitter, the senator’s wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, shared the story behind the coat, made by snowboarding brand Burton, which is headquartered in Vermont. O’Meara Sanders’s son, Dave Driscoll, used to work at the company, though he left and later founded the Sanders Institute, a policy nonprofit. In 2018, Burton saw a version of their coat with an image of Bernie pinned to the back “created by a friend,” and decided to make an official version, donating some of the proceeds to the Sanders Institute. According to O’Meara Sanders, her husband decided that he liked the jacket so much that Driscoll gave him one for Christmas—without his face on it, of course. (He does have another Burton jacket, which he wore to Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017.)
Over the last five years, the American public has come to know Sanders well as his particular brand of peeved socialist rage fueled his presidential campaigns. In fact, he’s one of the few politicians whose emotional range is so familiar that it’s pretty easy to tell what is going on under his mask. It’s extremely relatable to see someone grumpy and freezing in one of the few coats they own, so naturally the picture from today also became a meme.
The exact jacket is now sold out, but the brand helpfully tweeted out a “get the look” guide:
Though it feels like it happened many decades ago, it was only last February when Biden didn’t come close to matching Sanders’s support among the youth, even though Sanders is actually one year older than Biden. The viral coat is just a reminder that Bernie’s appeal to millennials doesn’t necessarily come because he’s young at heart, but rather because he has mastered a timeless way of expressing frustration.
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