Whether you’re American or not, you’ll have heard of Bernie Sanders.
The junior United States senator for Vermont, Bernie has been in the world spotlight especially since he ran in the 2016 Democratic party primaries ahead of the US presidential elections. We all followed him closely in the race which eventually Hillary Clinton won 55% to 43%.
Bernie continues to polarise American opinion and enjoys huge popularity with young voters especially. Here are 13 cool facts you may not know about him.
Bernie Sanders Interesting Facts
1. Bernie is the son of an American immigrant
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Bernie hails from a family of immigrants. His father, Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders, arrived in the US as a young adult from Slopnice, Galicia, which at the time was part of Austria-Hungary and is now in Poland. His mother is American-born, having lived in New York state all her life.
2. It was Hitler who inspired him to go into politics
His whole adult life, Bernie Sanders has mentioned that Adolf Hitler is the reason he went into politics, an interesting fact about Bernie Sanders. Whilst he was born in 1941, he learnt about Hitler and his policies in school and this made him realise that someone who killed millions of people was believed to be a good leader during his campaign. This led him to consider how important politics and one’s perceived public image can be.
3. Bernie was not a good student
One of his best-known policies is for free college education. However, Bernie wasn’t a great student himself. He was enrolled in Brooklyn College before transferring to the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science. However, he described the classroom as “boring and irrelevant”, he was a mediocre student and didn’t put much effort in his grades. Today, however, he believes that a college education is key to young people in the US.
4. He flirted with a career in Hollywood
This is a little known fact about Bernie, but after singing in his youth, he had a small role in the 1988 movie “Sweet Hearts Dance” alongside big names like Susan Sarandon, Don Johnson and Jeff Daniels. He is only in the movie for 45 seconds, as a cameo appearance when the main characters are trick or treating in Vermont, as he was the mayor of Burlington, VT, at the time.
This wasn’t all. In 1999, he appeared in low-budget comedy “My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception” as a rabbi. He clearly didn’t stick with the film business, but people do give him positive credit for the little he’s been in.
5. Before being a senator, he was a mayor – a good one!
Bernie was named one of the best mayors in America in 1987, an important fact about Bernie Sanders. As mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he was known for giving his opinion on a national level, but also for doing great work for his community. He worked as mayor of Burlington for a total of eight years.
6. He was a great athlete in high school
While he attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn, Bernie was the captain of the track team and placed third in the New York City indoor one-mile race.
7. Bernie lost his first campaign
Also in high school was the first time that Bernie Sanders ran for any office. He tried to get elected as class president and finished dead last. Luckily, this didn’t put him off his political career.
8. He helped a college student with an unfair felony charge
During Bernie’s time as mayor in Burlington, he came across the case of a college student who had received a citation for a noise violation at a party he had thrown. The police were trying to use this case as an example and had upgraded the offense to a felony. Bernie wanted to help the student so he called him personally and told him that, if he gathered a group of friends and volunteered to do some cleaning in the city, he would wipe off the felony charge from the student’s record. A lovely gesture indeed!
9. Bernie holds the record as the longest serving Independent member of Congress in the US
As a member of the Independent Political Party, Bernie has been the longest serving member in Congress, an interesting fact about Bernie Sanders. He became a member of Congress in 1990 and was the first Independent Political Party member to be elected since 1950.
10. He recorded a spoken word album
In 1987, Bernie’s folk/spoken word album “We Shall Overcome” was released. He recorded this during his tenure as mayor of Burlington, with 30 Vermont musicians. Bernie is clearly not a singer, so he chose to perform in talking blues style.
11. He holds an honorary PhD
Brooklyn College awarded Bernie with an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 2017.
12. Bernie hosted a TV program
Another way in which Bernie engaged with the public during his time as mayor was by hosting a television program. This was called “Bernie Speaks with the Community” and aired for two years between 1986 and 1988.
13. His brother is active in UK politics
Bernie’s brother, Larry, is a member of the Green Party in the United Kingdom. In 2016, he became the appointed Health Spokesperson of the Green Party of England and Wales, an interesting fact about Bernie Sanders’ brother.
There you have it – a well-rounded and involved politician, Bernie Sanders has had lots of interesting experiences and background stories during his long life as a politician. He’s always been known for speaking his mind but also for getting involved in community life. The latter is the reason he was hugely popular as a mayor, and also why he continues to engage with the electorate in a very special way. He was the first non-Christian person to win a US primary election and continues to break boundaries and prove himself out of the ordinary. Finally, he’s announced he will run in the 2020 elections, so more reason to keep an eye on what he does next!
I hope that this article on Bernie Sanders facts as helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!