It has usually been the right that has had an uncanny ability to create and generate meme’s that circulate widely and then take on different interpretations for different groups for different reasons. Alt tech and different groups develop these meme’s sometimes to denote irony. The meme takes on a life of its own as it is circulated throughout the online community.
This brings me to the Bernie meme. This is an interesting one on multiple levels. The Bernie meme has even surfaced in Canada with Justin Trudeau using it and sharing it on Twitter. But what does it mean?
The meme shows Bernie Sanders sitting in the cold of the inauguration with a winter jacket and hand-made mittens looking bored and curmudgeonly.
I am less enthusiastic regarding the meme as others. They argue that this a new era of just good fun. I do not see it that way. I doubt that I have to share with readers what Bernie Sanders represents in terms of economic and domestic policies in the US. He ran for president in the Democratic primary twice. Both times establishment Democrats moved aggressively to sideline his candidacy.
Neo-liberal economic policies currently drive the planet and the US is a primary leader in that global economy. This ideology largely drives all parties in North America. Those who stand outside of that ideology exist, but as long as the establishment can contain those movements as essentially rump movements that provide a valve for portions of the population so they feel they have a voice in the democratic life of the community, the establishment is happy.
BUT if those movements get too large and dominant, they need to be quashed and crushed quickly. This meme has the effect of representing Bernie as the harmless, eccentric, old uncle - ranting and raving about economic justice as the kids‘ eyes glaze over. They chuckle and say – good old Uncle Bernie. Funny, maybe right in some ways, but essentially harmless.
This meme provides the perfect context to create a powerful image of Bernie in the minds of people. It is a way to contain the ideology he represents to a humorous meme that exists as a sub-culture but will never rise to prominence in the economic order.
Bernie is playing, and being played as, the fool. But you readers should not be fooled – stay alert, awake, aware, and engaged.