Bernie Sanders’ UK-based brother reveals how upbringing formed his views
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Bernie Sanders’ UK-based brother reveals how upbringing formed his views

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Pinkerton Academy Stockbridge Theatre, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Pinkerton Academy Stockbridge Theatre, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Left-wing U.S. politician Bernie Sanders became the first Jewish American to win a presidential primary on Tuesday night, easily beating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Sanders, whose campaign has focused on income equality, has energised supporters – many of them young – by his talk of “revolution”.

Here, his UK-based brother Larry explains how the pair grew up opposing prejudice and how that ultimately came to form Bernie’s politics.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Pinkerton Academy Stockbridge Theatre, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign stop at the Pinkerton Academy Stockbridge Theatre,  in Derry, N.H. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

More than six years older than his younger sibling, Larry Sanders said as youngsters they talked much more about baseball than politics.

Giving us a rare insight into the man behind the presidential campaign, Larry reveals what Bernie was like growing up, how they once got mistaken as father and son, and their brotherly relationship.

Larry Sanders, older brother of United States presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, at his home in Oxford.
Larry Sanders, older brother of United States presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, at his home in Oxford.

Growing up in Brooklyn, the former Labour Party turned Green Party member – even running as a candidate in last year’s general election – revealed that politics formed a part of their early lives.

He said: “It wasn’t that our family were particularly involved in politics, they never joined a party or went to meetings, but the background was that as Jewish kids growing up during the war, we knew that politics was not something trivial. It was life and death. There was a sense of politics doing important things for good people.”

Larry said he would discuss what he was learning at school with Bernie – often including politics. But he said his brother is “slightly exaggerating” when he says his older sibling helped form his political views.

“We talked – but much more about the Brooklyn Dodgers than we did about politics,” he said. And at no point did Larry ever think either of them would ever hold any kind of public office. “We didn’t know anyone who did. It was not part of our life expectations at all,” he said.

Despite the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean separating them for the best part of five decades, Larry said he and his brother are still close – often speaking twice a week. “He isn’t getting his half a day off on Sundays at the moment. But we are in contact,” said Larry.

“He is a workaholic. He is the hardest working person that I have ever met.” Larry said the whole family are getting very excited as the presidential campaign progresses – with “everyone glued to everything.”

Heading into the first primary, Larry said his brother was “optimistic… more relaxed and having a bit more fun”. And rare insight into what Bernie is really like, revealed that he is not as grumpy as everyone says. “In fact one of his grandchildren got quite angry because one newspaper kept calling him grumpy grandpa. They got fed up and said ‘no, he is a fun grandpa’.”

A quiet child, who was a good athlete at school, Larry says his brother has “always been running” and quipped that although he doesn’t have Bernie’s “gleaming smile,” he does have more hair.

He revealed to the Press Association: “His hair went white very early. Once we were at a country fair together and this politician came up and said to him ‘is this your son?’ he was so angry all day.”

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