In reality, there's only one "Bernie Bro." And his name is Larry.
And Larry Sanders, the 80-year-old elder brother of the U.S. presidential candidate who just won a practically unprecedented victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, says that what his younger sibling is now achieving in the U.S. is part of a much larger global phenomenon that is also playing out in his home country, the UK.
The Guardian reports:
Larry Sanders, who stood in last year’s general election as the Green party candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, said the massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the ultra-rich had become a pressing issue for voters on both sides of the Atlantic.
Speaking after his brother Bernie’s 20-point win in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, Larry Sanders told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that there were similarities between his brother’s anti-austerity policies and the leftward turn of Labour heralded by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
"I knew that he would make a huge splash and the reason really is the issue that he’s tackling: the growth of inequality, the distribution of money from the bulk of the population to the very rich is true and when somebody says it they resonate to that," said Larry Sanders in the BBC interview.
Though there's a world, or at least an ocean, of difference between how U.S. and British political campaigns are run, Larry says that both his brother and Corbyn have touched a very deep nerve among the populations of their respective countries.
"There are similarities," Larry said. "Jeremy Corbyn is anti-austerity, and I must say the Green party’s policies are in the same direction and they speak to the same issues. It’s not quite as unequal [in the UK] as America, but it’s pretty bad."
As Jeremy Corbyn waged his takeover of the UK Labour Party last year, he received the same kind of rebuke from the British political and media establishment as Sanders has experienced in the U.S.
As the Guardian notes:
Just as political commentators in Britain have warned that Corbyn’s rise has left Labour unelectable, there are fears in the US that a nomination win for Bernie Sanders would give the Republicans an open door to the White House. But Larry Sanders has faith in his brother’s chances.
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“It will be a difficult campaign winning the nomination but against the Republicans it will not be very difficult because they have been part of a kind of conservatism of saying small state, do away with benefits, do away with all the things that help people get on in life,” he said.
“When you have someone as vigorous as Bernard saying look, that’s you, that’s your parents whose social pension you are talking about, they will be whipped.”
In a separate interview with the Press Association, the elder Sanders said his brother's landslide victory in New Hampshire should be a great boost as the primary contest shifts into even higher gear. "The great thing about winning is that he will be on the front pages and blasting out of televisions and the radios," he said. "More people will then have to think about him, so it might well do the trick."
In his discussion with BBC, Sanders rejected the idea that his brother's win in New Hampshire—where he won by more than 22 points and captured the support of nearly all demographics—could be explained by the fact that Bernie's home state Vermont is right next door. "The business about him being from a neighbouring state is just Hillary Clinton spin," Larry Sanders said. "He didn’t win it because he lives next door. He won it because the people of the state approved of what he was saying."
Watching Sanders' popularity surge has been "amazing and magical," his older brother told the Press Association. Larry now thinks that Bernie's "chances are very good" to win the nomination and then the presidency. Though clearly proud of what his younger brother has achieved, he also said the possibility of such a victory "is hard to absorb."
In a recent interview with Slate, when asked if he was surprised by his brother's presidential run, Larry Sanders offered some insights into the campaign and the success of its message:
He was mulling it over for at least a year, whether to go in or not, whether he should run as an independent or a Democrat, all that stuff. He didn’t have to do this. He had a job he loved, and he could get re-elected forever. If somebody else—Elizabeth Warren perhaps, or somebody else with similar politics—had gone in, Bernard would not have run.
The two big things were first whether somebody else would come in, and secondly whether he could do well enough. Because while he felt he could live with being humiliated if he was beaten badly—it had happened before, it could happen again, and he’d still be a senator—if somebody with his ideas was beaten badly, that would allow all the others to say, “See, somebody with those ideas can’t win,” and all the people who needed those ideas would lose out. That is what he didn’t want to happen.
But so far the campaign has shown that these ideas are not seen as extreme by large numbers of people, so anybody who wants to say that these ideas can’t fly is wrong.
Increasingly, it seems, these ideas appear to be flying well—even in places where those in power said they could not.