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Is this little birdie about to save the Sanders campaign?

Let’s talk some politics today – it is the weekend after all and none of you have anything better to do. Come on. Admit it!!

At one of Bernie Sander’s campaign speeches on Friday, the most adorable little sparrow landed on his podium and just stayed there for about half a minute or so. Social media went insane with praise and talk about symbolism, especially on Twitter under the hashtag #BirdieSanders – a little word play on his name. The most interesting thing for me was his reaction. He just stood there looking at it. I think he was trying not to disturb it, or maybe he was trying to think of a good joke or pun to say but couldn’t come up with anything on the spot. But, it was his facial expressions that really made people fall in love with him at that very moment.

Here’s what some people are saying on social media:


Not only are Tweeps using this freak of an accident to draw contrasts between Sanders and Trump (and Hillary for that matter), but for many there is some unique and fundamental symbolism here.

Let’s talk about why that is a little. First of all there’s a lot of cultural history from ancient times ranging from the sears of Rome and ancient Greeks who consulted all kinds of natural phenomena for answers about policy and decision-making, to the ancient Persians and Assyrians who used birds for all kinds of decision-making when no apparent good decision was clear.

Let’s get specific: In ancient Persian legends, when ancient Persians lacked a legitimate ruler or had succession issues, they would fly/release a bird called a Homa (or Huma) which when compared to western mythology is an equivalent of the Phoenix – a kind of bird that is immortal, bestows happiness etc. and whoever that bird lands on would be the next ruler. The Greeks believed that a Sparrow was the personal messenger of Aphrodite – the Goddess of love – come on – you’ve seen the movies.

Of course no one believes those legends these days, but these legends came about because humans have a natural tendency towards wanting to insert meaning into what is scientifically simple random events. As human beings,  we simply feel uncomfortable with the concept of completely meaningless random events, and often times we use whatever pre-existing views we have to put meaning into those events so as to attempt to understand them and frame them into our own dispositions and mental models.

This is why this little birdie landing on his podium for a relatively long period of time, and his reaction to it – that grandfather outlook he naturally possesses – mixed with his message of “World Peace” is such a potently powerful combination for his existing supporters, but perhaps also with those who are on the fence. Maybe – just maybe – those fence voters might think about it – you can almost see their minds wondering, “well maybe birds can sense good and bad intentions,” or “I’ve always felt that God (or nature) speaks to us through signs. This was a sign for me”.

The truth is people feel much more comfortable supporting someone politically if they can believe that somehow the Heavens themselves chose him/her – that it is absolutely inevitable – that the cosmic rays of the universe are edging them towards their inevitable rise. I mean if Bernie was destined to be the President, and that destiny was bestowed by Nature or by God himself (depending on your own views) then who am I, little old me, to argue with the most powerful forces of the universe of which I’m only a tiny teeny little speck of dust?

Truly powerful! And I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this story unfold. Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, share some more mythical creature stories if you know any.

About The Author
Dr. Joseph A.E. Shaheen
Computational Social Scientist with a twist of network science, social network analysis, data science, and random thoughts.
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