• Gina Rullo

Finding humor and inspiration thanks to Bernie



The Bernie Sanders memes following the presidential inauguration on January 20 brought levity to a very serious few weeks. This grandpop-looking figure sitting seemingly alone in the bleachers on Capitol Hill at President Joe Biden’s inauguration reminded me of a grandfather bundled up before his grandkid’s soccer game on a crisp fall morning.


The memes that came afterward brought hilarity to all, especially those of us in New Jersey where Bernie in mittens was put together with former Governor Chris Christie in his beachwear on a chair that had been a meme for a while.


The Bernie memes for the past few weeks have made us all smile.  Whether the independent Senator from Vermont has been photoshopped into the lunch table of Mean Girls, into famous paintings, hanging with Tony Soprano’s colleagues, sitting on a Gazette bench in Hammonton and thousands more, a smile could be found while viewing each one.


My friends and contacts on social media across multiple platforms shared pictures and chuckles together. People from all political parties joined in the fun.


There was nothing negative.  No hate speech.  No propaganda.  Just a laugh and a smile.

Sanders has united this country like no other politician. He outshone the new president on January 20.


And he does it by being himself, not trying to be what others want him to be.


On the most important day for a presidential candidate, the runner up for two cycles running made headlines for just being himself.


There was no rhetoric, no grandstanding and no taking shots at the other side. It was refreshing like a deep breath of cold Vermont air.


Why didn’t he receive the nomination again?


Were his mittens fashionable? No. They were warm and practical. As was his jacket and shoes.


Sanders and I have very different political viewpoints but I have always admired his steadfastness in who he is and what he appears to believe.


Laughter and humor can bring people together faster than one can imagine.


For the past 12 months there has been a severe lack of laughter in our lives.


We have lived under constant threat and surveillance. We no longer have contact with one anorther the way we did in 2019.


The release of the vaccines brought the first spark of hope. That hope was slightly quashed when it became clear that the availability would not be immediate for everyone. Then the new strains of the virus happened. Then the debate on whether or not two masks are needed.


People needed a chuckle.  They needed to find comfort in something familiar and stable.

And Bernie Sanders was there for them.


He was there for all of us.


I wonder, often, if Bernie Sanders had received the nomination in 2016 if things would have been different for the past four years.


Would there have been less vitriol? Less hate from the left? Less hate from the right?  Less fighting?


I admit it is a useless exercise but I cannot help but wonder as I see that sale of related merchandise has raised $1.8 million for various Vermont charities according to multiple published reports.


Something good inadvertently happened on January 20.


No politics were involved. Just a grandpop figure in mittens who is trying to make his slice of the world a little better.


Maybe it is a lesson we can learn together.


We don’t need to lean on Washington, D.C. and its policymakers to improve the world around us.  We need to do it ourselves.


Volunteer with a civic group (not a political group), help the less fortunate, donate your winter coats and clothing to area shelters, donate food to the hungry, and, if you are able, donate money to a local group where the money will stay in town.


Hammonton has all the major issues our nation is facing—people out of work, food scarcity, homelessness, kids in need. etc. Let’s help our town and then we can help South Jersey and then grow it from there.  But first, we need to make Hammonton better.


We can do better when we work together.




Gina Rullo is the editor-in-chief of The Hammonton Gazette.