“You came out here dancing, Bernie,” exclaimed talk show host Ellen Degeneres. “That’s fantastic.”
Thus began Bernie Sanders‘ appearance on Ellen, fresh off his standout performance in the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle.
Much akin to Fight Club, if this is your first time on Ellen, you have to dance. And dance Sanders did—to The Trammps 1976 hit “Disco Inferno,” which makes sense because the song’s refrain is “burn, baby, burn.” (Get it?)
Here’s the video evidence to prove this is a thing that happened. Sanders’s dancing comes at the very beginning of the clip:
Besides featuring The Trammps biggest hit, the segment also showed the independent Vermont senator giving one his trademark impassioned arguments against income inequality and the shredding of the social safety net that’s turned Sanders into a strong challenger on Hillary Clinton’s progressive flank.
“You would think that if one was making billions of dollars, that might be enough to take care of your family and your kids and your grandchildren,” Sanders said. “In corporate America today, you have incredible greed. I don’t know when they think enough is enough. They want more and more and more.”
“You have multi-billionaires right now contributing money to candidates and what these candidates are doing at the behest of the billionaires is saying ‘let’s cut Social Security.’ You talk about health care for all, they want to throw millions of people off of health care and repeal the Affordable Care Act,” he continued. “They want to cut nutrition programs at a time when millions of families are struggling to put food on the table … for pregnant women and little babies. I can’t explain to you the mentality of somebody who wants to do that…That’s the kind of greed mentality we’re fighting.”
That’s how a progressive presidential campaign is run in 2015: Come in like Saturday Night Fever, go out like a Sunday morning revival.
Doing talk shows like Ellen has become de rigueur for presidential candidates. Clinton herself danced the whip and the nae nae on Ellen earlier this year. In fact, this practice has gone on for decades, at least since Bill Clinton played saxophone on The Arsineo Hall Show way back in 1992.
This election cycle, however, the practice has kicked into overdrive. The reason is likely because these sorts of appearances give candidates a consistent positive bump in public sentiment that’s difficult to achieve elsewhere.
According to data collected by the social media analytics firm Wayin, going on talk shows has a tendency to increase the percentage of social media conversations about the candidate that are positive. Right before Clinton shook it on Ellen, only 38 percent of all the tweets mentioning her by name were positive. In the hours following her appearance, that number jumped to 58 percent.
Will Sanders get a similar Ellen bump?
Illustration by Tiffany Pai