Skip to comments.Jane Sanders: Bernie would have beaten Trump
Posted on 09/30/2017 9:57:43 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
We didnt win the election, but we won the hearts of young people, says the Vermont senators wife, who visits Ireland next week
Its late September in the picturesque city of Burlington, in Vermont, and the famous New England fall is not yet in its full autumnal glory. Along the shores of Lake Champlain the sun is beating down, the leaves are beginning to turn, and the atmosphere in this hipster student town is unmistakably laid back.
This is Bernie Sanders territory. The veteran left-wing US senator and presidential hopeful moved to Burlington, an hour south of the Canadian border, in the mid-1960s, part of a wave of east-coasters who moved to the rural state in search of something new.
The hippy vibe is still in full swing. Along the main thoroughfare pedestrianised during Sanderss time as mayor classical music plays from speakers as people relax outside cafes and restaurants, soaking up the late-September sunshine.
Im here to meet Jane OMeara Sanders, the senators wife and political adviser, at the headquarters of the Sanders Institute, a nonprofit set up to promote progressive ideas and policies that grew out of his 2016 campaign.
Softly spoken but quietly passionate, Jane Sanders is off to Limerick next week to speak at I.NY, a new festival celebrating the relationship between Ireland and New York.
Like millions of Americans, she grew up in an Irish-American household. The youngest of five children, Sanders was born in Brooklyn, growing up just 10 blocks from the man who was to become her future husband, although they were not to meet until years later. Her paternal grandfather emigrated to the United States from Tipperary, and three of her great-grandparents came from Ireland. Its funny. None of my parents generation had been to Ireland, she says. My generation went to check it out and fell in love with it.
Reminders of her Irish heritage framed her childhood. A Sacred Heart hung on the wall, she went to Catholic schools, and both her father and grandfather were members of the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, the oldest Irish-American association in North America.
But it was only when she travelled to the old sod for the first time, in 1985, that she appreciated her heritage. Visiting Ireland reminded me of when I first arrived in Vermont. I thought, This is home. She and Bernie had been visiting his brother, Larry, still a Green Party activist in England, and took the ferry to Ireland. As soon as my feet hit the ground I said, Yes, this is it.
I used to make fun of people who talked about going home and all that, Sanders says with a smile. I hadnt really thought about it at all, but I just teared up when I saw Ireland. I felt a kinship.
Our eyes met
But it was Janes meeting with Bernie that defined much of her life.
She moved to Burlington in the 1970s with her first husband, who had relocated there for work. She first encountered Bernie when he was running for mayor and she was working as a community activist. I was sitting in the second row, and our eyes met, but we didnt really talk afterwards. But she was captivated. I felt it came from the heart, everything he said. He embodied everything I ever believed in.
It was not until their fourth meeting, at a party celebrating his election as mayor, in 1981, that they got together. They married in 1988. He asked me to dance, and weve been together ever since, she says, smiling. So began a marriage of minds as well as of hearts, as Sanders became a constant figure by her husbands side as he built his political career.
In 1988, when he was approaching his eighth year as mayor of Burlington, Bernie ran for Congress. He was unsuccessful. Two years later he contested a seat again, this time winning by 10 points, and finally moving to Washington, DC, to represent the citizens of Vermont as an Independent.
Sanders was centrally involved with his career from this time, first through her own work as a community activist and eventually more formally, becoming his head of press in 1990.
In 1995, with her three children all working or at college, she also went down to Washington, setting up the Congressional Progressive Caucus and becoming her husbands chief of staff.
You have to do it
In 2006 Bernie was elected to the US Senate, a move that Sanders says significantly enhanced his national profile. But even then few would have believed the socialist would set his sights on becoming president of the United States.
When did the plan to run in 2016 come about?
As the election approached people started asking him, [saying] you should run, you should run. He dismissed it, and so did I, but in 2015 we were waiting to have a debate about the ideas and it became very apparent to us that nobody was going to have a debate in the Democratic primaries. To us that was crazy, says Sanders.
Weve known Hillary Clinton. Shes great, shes wonderful, a very smart woman. Both Sanders and her husband respect Hillary, she says, but her politics are centrist.
Despite shaking the bushes to find someone to run, Bernie began to think about running himself. The decision was finally made one morning, as they were having breakfast, and were approached by a Vietnam veteran.
He explained that he had been a victim of Agent Orange a dangerous defoliant the US used in the Vietnam War and while he had fought for 30 years to get benefits, he didnt succeed until he worked with Bernies office. He said he hoped Bernie would run for president. I just teared up. Bernie stood up and shook his hand, I hugged him, and I said: You have to do it. Its not about us. How can we not?
What followed was one of the most divisive primary campaigns in recent American history, as Bernie Sanders took on Hillary Clinton for a nomination that many in the party believed was hers for the taking, opening up wounds in the Democratic Party that have yet to heal.
The wrong candidate
Sanders outperformed virtually all analysts expectations, commanding huge crowds and invigorating young voters through his promise of a left-wing vision for American society, predicated on the right to healthcare, education and housing.
Tensions between the Sanders wing and the Democratic establishment erupted in May 2016 amid accusations that the Democratic National Committee, the partys executive, conspired to put Clinton on the ticket over Bernie Sanders, after leaked emails showed DNC staff disparaging the Vermont senator.
Ugly scenes followed at the Democratic selection convention, in Philadelphia, where Bernies supporters, reluctant to back Clinton as the partys nominee, shouted, We want Bernie.
Clinton has criticised him in the aftermath of the election. In What Happened, her new book, she accuses her primary opponent of laying the ground for Trumps attacks on her.
Did Bernie ultimately cost Clinton and the Democratic Party the election, depriving the United States of its first woman president and helping to elect Donald Trump?
I disagree with that, Jane Sanders says. Thats democracy. There should always be primaries. It wasnt that she was an incumbent. Its nobodys turn until its somebodys turn; until the people decide its somebodys turn.
Bernie never ran a negative campaign in his life, she says. The Clinton campaign might dispute this, given his relentless focus on Clintons ties to Wall Street during the primary campaign. Of Clintons recent criticisms of her husband, Jane pauses, before saying: Its unfortunate.
She is unequivocal that Clinton was a bad choice of nominee. I dont think Bernie stood in the way, as I think she would have lost to Trump anyway, not because she should have but because she was the wrong candidate at the time, Sanders says.
There was a sense in the country, that we felt palpably from people, that, yes, weve made progress in some areas, but many of us have been left behind, and nobody is speaking to us. Also, [there was a] sense that the Clinton campaign was a third term for Barack Obama. There is nothing wrong with that, but thats not what they wanted at that time, and thats not what they want now.
I think the American people, through the healthy exchange of ideas, understood that they could do better as a country, in terms of healthcare, affordable education, affordable housing. Bernie was the candidate for change, Trump was the candidate for change, and Secretary Clinton was the candidate for keeping steady on the path. That was not what the American people were looking for.
He would have won
Does she believe Bernie would have beaten Trump? I think he would have won. I have very little doubt he would have won, she says, because American people wanted change and they werent willing to vote for the status quo.
She notes that, throughout the primaries, working-class white voters, who in the end voted for Trump, supported Bernie. Even though her husband lacked support among African-American voters, under-40s in every constituency, including black and Latino, voted for him, she says.
Bernie was also critcised by many in the Democratic Party for not pulling out earlier from the campaign. Sanders disputes that, pointing out that Clinton didnt pull out during her primary contest with Obama, before the presidential election of 2008, until the end.
Sanders recalls how she and her husband met Clinton in a hotel room in DC to announce he was withdrawing, and they had a very good discussion, focusing on healthcare and on free tuition for public colleges and universities.
The one thing that does bother me, considering how hard he worked in having her win the election, are the untruths Hillarys claim that she didnt get the same respect from her opponent as she gave to Barack Obama. During the convention we went to every event each state that we won held a breakfast because Bernie felt so strongly that Donald Trump could not become president.
She says that in the final week of the presidential campaign her husband had more events than Clinton, whose team took the result for granted. They thought they had it won. They had two great parties, two nights before the election: Bon Jovi and Beyoncé. And Bernie was out in California, trying to pass proposition 61 a drug-pricing measure as well as running around the country.
Sanders is critical of Clintons attitude since the defeat. Most people who run for president, if they dont win the primary, or even if they dont win the election, they just disappear. I mean, Secretary Clinton says in her interviews, I drank a lot of wine, saw a lot of theatre, read a lot of good books. The Trump administration was going on. Bernie didnt feel he had the opportunity to stop: this is not the time to lay back, relax and pay attention to ourselves; we have to go out and fight. Hes never stopped from the time he didnt win the primary.
Her phone rings. Its Bernie
Sanderss commitment to her husband and to the left-wing politics he has made his lifes work shines through. At one point her phone rings its Bernie, from Washington, who the night before took part in a CNN debate on healthcare. She tells him shes talking to The Irish Times. Love you, she says as she ends the call; he had only rung for a chat, she says.
But, despite their closeness, Sanderss role in her husbands political life has not been without its problems. Her tenure at the helm of Burlington College, a small private college, has come under scrutiny in recent months. She resigned in 2011, and the school closed in 2016, under mounting debts.
A land deal agreed under Sanderss watch is now under federal investigation. Sanders says that she is entirely innocent and that the campaign against her is politically motivated.
She mentions the current vice-chairman of the Republican Party in Vermont, who also headed Trumps campaign in the state. Thats what he does here, what he has done to the state attorney several times, and to progressives. He constantly makes charges, and then people have to follow through and investigate, to be able to say there is nothing there. She says she will be exonerated by the investigation, which she expects to take a long time.
As we leave her office and walk down to the lake we talk about family life. Her son David Driscoll, who is executive director of the Sanders Institute, lives nearby. Bernie, who had a child from a previous relationship, and Sanders, who had three children from her first marriage, now have seven grandchildren between them. Bernie is great with the grandkids. He teaches them how to play chess, baseball. They adore him.
Trump has to be stopped
I ask if Bernie will run again in 2020. We dont know, Sanders says, refusing to rule out a prospect that many in political circles now see as a real possibility. Both have just returned from a trip to California, which some suspect was a sign that Sanders is gathering support for another primary bid, although he will be 79 at the time of the next election.
But what she is clear about is her belief that Bernies campaign changed the conversation within the Democratic Party. As it continues to soul search in the wake of Trumps improbable victory, the split between the centrist and more socialist wing of the party seems as strong as ever as shown by the acrimonious battle this year to head the Democratic National Committee. (Bernie Sanders supported Keith Ellison, who lost to Tom Perez.)
Democrats are now mulling over the partys strategy for 2020 and for next years midterm elections. The Bernie Sanders wing has grounds to feel confident. As Sanders and other commentators have pointed out, Bernies recently unveiled proposal for a single-payer healthcare system gained 16 cosignatories in the Senate last week. Two years ago it got zero.
As the battle for the heart of the Democratic Party intensifies, Sanders believes the conversation has changed. We didnt win the election, but I think we won the day and we won the minds and hearts of a large number of people, especially young people, the future of our country.
She recalls a moment during the primary campaign when Bernie was just beginning to get noticed nationally. I was watching all these people listening he was not well known across the country at this point and you could see them just get it, that they understood that this was coming from deep inside him, not just some silly stump speech. And immediately I thought, I recognise that, I recognise that look. Theyre feeling like I felt that time when Id never talked to him but was just listening to him.
As she reflects on the Trump phenomenon, she says it is now up to the Democratic Party to lead. What we need to offer is a vision for the future that addresses the needs of the American people and the direction they want to go in. What Trump is doing is a lot more than just talking, tweets. He is rolling back regulations, standards, destroying lives. This has to be stopped. There has to be a sense of urgency, a really authentic sense of urgency, that we have not just got to fight but to lead.
I thought Mrs. Sanders was heading for PRISON due to her shady University Pay For Play Scheme?
You sure didn't win their brains; if they believe Bernie's Snake Oil economics, they have none.
“She moved to Burlington in the 1970s with her first husband, who had relocated there for work. She first encountered Bernie when he was running for mayor and she was working as a community activist.”
Cheated on her first husband with Bernie? Man, those Socialists sure have the market cornered on morals!
[[We didnt win the election, but we won the hearts of young people,]]
Yep- young ignorant ‘idealistic’ people who don’t know any better, and who think that socialism and communism is just great-
Quite a resume “We got the votes of all the folks too ignorant to realize that we are selling a BS communist style agenda”
I repeat this stupid proposition at my leftist-filled NY office all the time. It’s a kind of seed-planting operation chaos.
vote for pres. Bernie........
Bernie would have beaten Trump
Pssst - hey squid-face: Not everybody has been asleep since the Sulaco left East Berlin and headed into the Heart of Darkness.
That was the last time she and her new slime-ball commie husband ever got close to "work." As communist agitators and the ultimate grifters, the CP no doubt found a way to pay them. It is amazing how many Americans are paid by CP for agitating.
IMO, she’s probably right.
Yeah, he’s a god-forsaken Socialist, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t have one heck of an energized base. They didn’t give a damn about The Witch, but there were more than a few who would have crawled through broken glass to vote for him AND to get others to as well.
If he was the candidate...and I hate to even think it...it MIGHT have turned out differently.
Had Bernie won the nomination, the hypocrisy of the Sanders family and their accumulation of wealth would have been aired daily for all to see.
President Trump won because against incredible rigging and hostility from 'pubs, he prevailed and took the nomination away from the uniparty puppetmasters. Could it be Trump won because fed up voters were even more fed up when Hillary was given debate questions for a debate against Sanders? It might be that if the DNC had a system where the voters actually chose the nominee, they might've won.
Imagine the fun President Trump could have had trolling this idiot commie.
And she probably doesn't lie on bank loan applications either.
Sanders would've lost worse than Hillary!!!
If you want to find out just how empty these Snowflakes who supported Bernie are, try to engage them in a meaningful debate on economics. They have no clue how an economic system works, nor are they familiar with the history of Socialism and the path of wreckage it’s left in it wake. They truly are idiots.
Had Bernie won the nomination, the hypocrisy of the Sanders family and their accumulation of wealth would have been aired daily for all to see.
I had the same though.
President Trump ran against Hillary. His campaign reflected that fact.
If he was running against Bernie, the campaign would have been different but in the end it would have resulted in the same results.
It would not have mattered which Democrat was running, Trump would have adjusted his campaign accordingly.
What she doesn’t mention is that Bernie was a chronic pot-smoking slob well into his 30’s. He was living in a hippie commune for a while but the commune finally kicked him out for being too lazy.
Kicked out of a doper hippie commune for being lazy, priceless!
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