Bernard and His Brother: You Cannot Stop the Movement That Has Begun
One of the most poignant moments from Tuesday's convention was the tearful, fiery roll call vote for Bernie from the final Democrat From Abroad: His older brother Larry, a longtime activist - first Labor, now Green - in the U.K. who chose to "bring before this convention the names of our parents, Eli Sanders, Dorothy Glassberg Sanders." He went on, breaking down, "They did not have easy lives, and they died young. They would be immensely proud of their son and his accomplishments ... They loved the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and would be especially proud that Bernard is renewing that vision." Across the hall, amidst the Vermont delegates, Bernie also teared up in the realest few seconds of the day.
Children of idealistic Jewish immigrants, Larry and Bernard - he says "Bernie" just doesn't sit right with him - grew up in Brooklyn, very aware of the shadow of the Holocaust, learning early that "politics was very serious," and "thinking government can do good things." Larry, a youthful 80, has said their early values were simple ones from public school and Hebrew school: The American concept of equality before the law, and the Jewish exhortation to be kind to "the stranger among you" - values learned like millions of others, "but somehow it stuck with Bernard."
A retired university professor and social worker, Larry got Bernie interested in radical politics at a young age. After moving to the U.K. in the 1960s, Larry was long a Labor activist before switching about ten years ago to the Green Party, where he has been a harsh critic of austerity cuts and champion of expanded health care and social services. Now the Greens' national spokesperson on health issues, he has asked voters to “imagine a political system that puts the public first. Imagine an economy that gives everyone their fair share. Imagine a society capable of supporting everyone’s needs." He came to the convention as an at-large delegate for Democrats From Abroad on a slate backing his brother.
The two brothers remain close - they talk on the phone every other Sunday - and Larry has watched Bernie's campaign with astonishment, much emotion, and great pride. He admires his brother as a truth teller, a tough fighter, a "genuine socialist" who believes in class warfare and wouldn't hesitate to "flex his muscles" to do good for others. His response to the bittersweet end of the campaign is, like many others, a mix of joy and grievous regret: Bernie did so much, moved and galvanized so many, went so far to achieve "the start of something big in American politics," but it was not quite enough. “I think he’s already made quite a difference,” he says. “But I would have liked Bernard as president.” Yes. Still, many thanks go out to Eli Sanders and Dorothy Glassberg Sanders, and to their boys, who did good.