Larry Sanders, Bernie’s Brother: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Larry Sanders, a member of the Green Party in the UK, is a big supporter of his brother Bernie’s presidential run. (Twitter/Elise Benjamin)

While Bernie Sanders is campaigning for President of the United States, his brother Larry Sanders has a political career of his own in Oxford, England. Larry was recently appointed as the Green Party’s national spokesman on health. But although he’s busy with his own life, he has still found time to make some pretty harsh comments about Bernie’s opponents, especially Bill Clinton. Being outspoken definitely runs in the family.

Here’s what you need to know.


1. Larry Is a Retired Academic Living in Britain Who Became an ‘Instant Celebrity’ Because of Bernie

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Larry Sanders, Bernie Sanders’ brother, giving a speech about the importance of community. (Twitter/RachelRoss)

Larry Sanders has lived in Britain since 1969, when he moved there with his late wife and became a university lecturer on health and social care. Today, he lives with his partner, Jane, and they have four grandchildren under 10.

When Bernie began campaigning and rising in popularity in the United States, Larry said that it made him a sudden celebrity over in the UK, AP reported:

I was at a meeting the other day and when I stood up to ask a question, half the people in the audience started clapping. I’ve been going to meetings for 40 years and non one’s ever applauded before.”

Last year, Sanders ran for a seat in Britain’s Parliament and ended up fifth out of seven candidates.


2. He and His Younger Brother Bernie Grew Up Under the ‘Shadow of the Holocaust’

Larry, 80, is six years older than his younger brother Bernie (who will always be “Bernard” to him.) They grew up under the shadow of the Holocaust, AP reported, because they had lost relatives from it and, to them, that made politics very, very serious.

They didn’t grow up poor in that they always had what they needed, but their parents also always argued about money, he told AP. That kind of tension is something that politicians from financially stable backgrounds can’t relate to. Two things that really drove home their values were the Declaration of Independence’s “all men are created equal” and the Torah’s exhortation to always be kind to strangers among you.

The brother’s mom died young when she was only in her forties, and their dad passed away three years later, The Daily Beast reported. Larry has said that this is why he cries in interviews about Bernie’s presidential run.


3. Larry Was Recently Appointed Health Spokesman for the Green Party in the UK

Larry Sanders was just recently appointed the Green Party’s national spokesman on health, where part of his role is raising the party’s profile in the public eye, Politics Home reported. He’s been a solid campaigner for the Green Party for years. The Green Party has thousands of members but only one representative in the 650-member Parliament.

Larry has a long history in politics, even dating back to when he still lived in the United States. In the early 1960s, he was president of the Lower East Side Reform Democrats, The Daily Beast reported. He and the group tried, unsuccessfully, to take over the local chapter of the Democratic Party. In the 1980s, he was active in the Labour Party but grew disillusioned when Tony Blair took over the party. In 2005, he was elected as a Green councillor on the Oxford County City Council, The Independent reported. He has 30 years of experience working in the public health sector.

“If we want to make the nation healthier, we need to do it by investing in more than the NHS,” he said in an interview with The Independent. His suggestions include better insulating homes to help the poor. He’s a proponent of down-to-Earth ideas that will help private individuals where they live.


4. Larry Sanders Called Bill Clinton a ‘Dreadful President’ and a ‘Terrible Rapist’

Larry Sanders, normally soft spoken, was very outspoken recently when talking about his brother’s opponents in the presidential race. He complained to The Daily Beast that everyone was just glossing over Bill Clinton’s past, instead debating “Is Bill really such a terrible rapist – or is he a nice rapist?” In an interview with The Daily Beast, he mentioned that Hillary Clinton’s type of politics was feeble, but his hostility was reserved for her husband. Bill Clinton, he said, should take more blame for America’s woes than either Bush president. His breaking up of the welfare system and NAFTA trade deals are a couple examples, Larry added.

He added that Bernie is very clear that he likes and respects Hillary Clinton.


5. He Helped Build His Younger Brother Bernie’s Interest in Politics

Growing up, Larry helped foster Bernie’s interest in politics. When Larry was studying politics at Brooklyn College and was active in Young Democrats, he often discussed political ideals with Bernie, AP reported. At the time, Bernie was a great athlete and a not-great student. Larry would drag Bernie to political meetings, which Bernie found boring at first. Bernie’s first political campaign, in fact, was running for high school president, where he finished third out of three. This was partially because he had a serious platform of helping Korean orphans, which didn’t really resonate with his younger peers at the time.

Larry Sanders said he has only recently begun to believe Bernie could actually win, and he’s blown away by Bernie’s supporters. He told AP: “Sometimes it’s quite casual, Oh there he is again with 20,000 people cheering him… And other times I say, Oh my God look at that.”

The two brothers are still very close and talk on the phone every other Sunday.