Bernie Forever? These People Are Getting Sanders Tattooed on Their Bodies

They might make you laugh, they might make you smile, they might make you cringe, but there is one thing they will not do: ever come off (at least not without a costly removal procedure). I am talking about this election season’s crop of Bernie Sanders tattoos that are now permanently decorating the bodies of some of the young people who have thrown their passion into the democratic socialist’s presidential bid.

In a cycle defined by anomalies, including racist incitement that is far more overt than is customary (although certainly not new), Bernie tattoos are some of the more amusing developments. They’ve popped up on the Samantha Bee Full Frontal show and all over the Internet—just search Google images and you will see Bernie’s iconic hair and glasses forever etched onto shoulders, wrists and at least one butt. A Vermont tattoo shop called Aartistic Inc is now offering free Bernie tattoos, as well as no-cost coverups of Trump ink. Owner Tyre Duvernay told the Observer, “I could’ve offered this without him running for president and people still would have gotten it.”

AlterNet was able to track down tattoo-sporting Bernie supporter Christopher Ray, a 31-year-old tour guide and activist in San Francisco who took the time to do an interview during a dizzying day of mobilizing ahead of the California primary. (Side note: AP just scandalously called the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton, but don’t believe it, and instead give people a chance to vote.) Ray's tattoos are on the more elaborate end of the spectrum, spanning both wrists and featuring a brightly colored image of Birdie Sanders—the bird that paid the presidential candidate a visit in Portland, Oregon and made the crowd and the internet go wild.

I must say I approached this conversation with the conviction that the trend of tattooing a political figure’s brand on one’s body is rooted in a greater level of idol worship than I feel comfortable with. But once my discussion with Ray got going, all I wanted to do was listen—and do so respectfully.

Sarah Lazare: What are you doing right now and what have you been up to today?

Christopher Ray: Right now I am walking up to Crissy Field for the huge Bernie Sanders rally with the Dave Matthews Band and a bunch of other big stars. I spent my day running get-out-the-vote canvassing for the California primary and volunteering at Bernie’s first rally in the city. This is the first time I have ever gotten involved in a presidential campaign.

SL: Why now?

CR: He is the most consistent and genuine fighter for social justice across all platforms that has existed in our times. It’s an honor to have him even run.

SL: What inspired you to get these tattoos?

CR: I got clean and sober to volunteer for the campaign. I was a club promoter for a long time. I drank heavily for a decade or more, and then I found something bigger than me that I wanted to get involved in. I wanted to change my entire life and wanted to find my light and potential. I got a new family support network in the campaign. I wanted to remember this for the rest of my life.

It’s been so incredible. My whole life has turned into something so much more meaningful than getting up and going to work every day. I’m so proud. I wake up every day excited and loving life.

SL: So I must ask. Bernie is a human being, who is fallible. What if he makes a mistake or says something you disagree with? Will you #FeeltheRegret?

CR: If Bernie says something I don’t agree with, maybe I need to get educated on what his position is. That’s what I would do. I would just research.

SL: I’m sure you know that Bernie tattoos are a phenomenon bigger than you in this election. What do you think of the trend?

CR: I think it’s absolutely amazing. It really goes to show how much this means to a younger generation that’s been disenfranchised and lost faith in the system or never had any to begin with.

Candidates come and go, revolutionaries never die. Neither should the ideals that Bernie Sanders stands for and has been fighting for for decades.

SL: Ostensibly these are going to be on your body for the rest of your life, and one day you might be in a position of explaining to a younger person what they mean. What will you say then?

CR: I will say that once we didn’t have health care for all. One time there were billionaires buying the election. At one point we were going to vote for a business dictator, someone who has been lying for power for years. We had a choice to vote for a fascist dictator television star or the most consistent and honest and amazingly passionate candidate we ever did have. And we won.


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