The Meaning of the Mittens

The symbolic power of Bernie’s old pair of mittens was the work of the “us” in “not me, us.”

In a sea of exquisitely matching face masks, Bernie Sanders’s ratty old mittens upstaged them all, instantly becoming the most discussed, delighted-in, and deranged visual message of the historic occasion. What should we make of this? Why did so many millions connect to whatever language the mittens were speaking? Was it pandemic delirium — all of us projecting our social isolation onto the most isolated person in the crowd? Was it sexism and racism, the Bernie Bros once again failing to acknowledge the subversive messages expressed in the fashion choices of glass-ceiling shattering women? Was it, as a friend just texted as I typed these words, “the world’s secret wish that Bernie was our president”?

What is the meaning, the mittenology of it all?

As with so much else related to this new administration, it’s too soon to tell. What follows are five possibilities.

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