Feeling the Gleeful Bern

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Bernie in Des Moines this week. Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP

Okay, so the giddy rumor that Pope Francis had endorsed Bernie for president - “I see in Senator Bernard Sanders a man of great integrity and moral conviction (who) genuinely wants what’s best for all people,” an avowal swiftly followed by Bill O'Reilly calling both Bernie and Francis "false prophets" - turned out to be a hoax. But the basic premise underlying the story - that Bernie, despite much mainstream media sabotage, has attracted massive, exuberant, often improbable support for the very qualities allegedly cited by the Pope - rings true.

Ardent proof comes in the emergence of manifold online groups, from substantive to satirical, supporting Bernie. They celebrate Sanders' willingness to march with embattled workers, to continue over many years to "stand up to powerful people and (make) difficult decisions," to consistently take positions - as cited by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison - “as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice." But they also celebrate more elusive pleasures - a political candidate who is not and never has been for sale, a political moment of rare hope and faith, a glad sense of possibility. Bernie - rumpled, frizzy, impassioned, pissed - feels like one of us.

Which is maybe why so many people are dressing up their babies like him. #BabiesForBernie - tough to resist - is one of the more captivating instances of the omnipresence of Sanders on social media. There are also #GeeksForBernie, menwhobern, Artists and Cultural Leaders For Bernie, PeopleWithUnrulyHairforBernie. There are onesies - babies, cats, veterans, Ohio, future women - for Bernie, expectant parents for Bernie, Vermont farmers' pumpkin displays for Bernie, Halloween parties for Bernie, a Larry David impersonation of Bernie, a Back to the Future with Bernie, and even a few bankers for Bernie.

And, starting tomorrow, there's an ad hoc three-concerts-over-three-weeks dance party dubbed Bernie-Man. Several thousand people have signed up for the Seattle event, which will combine live music and dancing with donating a few bucks to Sanders' campaign. It was somewhat inadvertently organized by a real-estate broker who's never held a political event. "I don't know what a revolution feels like," he says. "Enough people have been disenfranchised in my lifetime that people are standing up and saying, 'Enough.' So if that's what a revolution is, then yeah." Thus does joy, at least for now, visit the political landscape.

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Bernie haircut, AP photo

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