On the eve of the Iowa caucuses (4 days away), here are 20 little-known facts about Bernie Sanders, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, which ran Bernie’s picture on its latest cover with the logo: “Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote” (going on to explain that many of its readers are hedge-fund managers).
- Sanders became a national political figure by giving a speech on Dec. 20, 2010 that lasted 8 and 1/2 hours. The speech railed against extending Bush tax cuts and seemed like a filibuster, but it wasn’t. It was so popular that it was later made into a book.
2) Sanders does not enjoy selfies.”If I had my options, I’d prefer to shake hands,” says Bernie.
3) Bernie grew up with an immigrant father in a tenement with 3 and 1/2 rooms.
4) Bernie has attracted crowds larger than Trump’s: 28,000 in Portland, Oregon; 27,500 in Los Angeles; 20,000 in Boston; 15,000 in Seattle.
5) Sanders has a son named Levi, who is a paralegal at Greater Boston Legal Services.
6) When asked to describe the U.S. to a Martian he used the phrase “wealth and income inequality.”
7) Sanders’ former Chief of Staff says he had 2 interests when Mayor of Burlington: basketball and wealth inequality.
8) Sanders has the highest constituent approval rating and lowest disapproval rating among U.S. Senators.
9) Sanders is a graduate of the University of Chicago and once was arrested during a civil rights demonstration (he was a member of SNCC, the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, among others.)
10) Sanders spent most of 1972-1976 running in Vermont as a third-party candidate for governor (2x), for senator (2x) and once got 4% of the vote.
11) Sanders won a weird race for Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (four-way race) by 10 votes, becoming their mayor for 8 years, a period during which the city boomed.
12) Bernie ran for Congress twice becoming the first Independent elected to the House in 40 years.
13) Bernie spent 16 years in the House before running for the Senate in 2006, with the backing of the Democratic Party, which he officially would not join.
14) Bernie has 3 labor unions backing him, representing about a million workers. (*Clinton has about 18 unions representing 11 million workers supporting her.)
15) In the 1960’s, he lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a few years before moving to Vermont. When he arrived in Vermont, he first lived in a maple sugar shack and cooked food over a coffee can filled with a roll of toilet paper soaked in lighter fluid, a poor man’s Sterno which his friends called a “Berno.”
16) His brother, Larry, who first got him interested in liberal issues, is a Green Party politician in England. (*Donald Trump’s father-in-law and mother-in-law are both members of the Communist Party in their native land.)
17) Until 2015, Bernie had 5 digits’ worth of credit card debt.
18) When he ran for President of James Madison High School in Brooklyn in a 3-way race, he came in last. (*His elementary school basketball team won a city-wide championship, however.)
19) There is a Bernie Sanders Drinking Game where, every time he mentions a free government program, you take a drink of someone else’s beer.
20) Invited to speak to a United Way fundraiser once, he attacked the group in a short speech, telling them that they shouldn’t exist; that taking workers’ pay to do the government’s job was shameful.
21) At Bernie’s rallies, Steve Earle’s “The Revolution Starts Now” and Bob Marley’s “Revolution” play, but not the Beatles’ famous song because it ends with the line: “Don’t you know it’s going to be all right.”
22) Bernie ascribes to this FDR quote: “We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hatred of me—and I welcome their hatred.”
23) Robert Reich (economist and Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton) says, “Essentially, America faces a choice between authoritarian populism, represented by Donald Trump, and reform populism, represented by Bernie Sanders.”
24) In college, Bernie also belonged to the Young People’s Socialist League, CORE (the Congress for Racial Equality), SNCC and the Student Peace Union.
25) Bernie’s message is that of Martin Luther King, which King termed “the urgency of now”: “If you see stuff that’s bad and you don’t respond with the urgency of the moment, you’re not alive.”