There are many things Bernie Sanders might like to talk about—Medicare for all, millionaires and billionaires screwing over poor people, his basketball prowess—but do NOT ask him to endorse his own son’s campaign for Congress. If you do, things will get really strange, really fast.
Here’s the deal: Levi Sanders, who once got extraordinarily mad online over yogurt, is running to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives. It’s the sort of thing you’d think an avuncular curmudgeon like Bernie might actually love. Instead, Sanders has pointedly and repeatedly refused to endorse his own flesh and blood, insisting that he opposes “dynastic politics.”
Here’s Sanders’ initial statement when his son entered the race this winter:
Okay, kinda strange, but, y’know—gotta give the kid some breathing room, I guess.
But Bernie has only run farther and farther from Levi’s campaign since then.
“Levi has spent his life in service to low-income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done,” Sanders said earlier this week. “In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics. Levi is running his own campaign in his own way.”
Putting aside the abject weirdness of Bernie going out of his way to praise his son’s work, before explicitly rejecting his candidacy, it’s probably worth noting that Levi decision to run for office is likely a direct result of his father’s political career!
But Bernie has refused to crack. On Thursday night he spoke with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, himself a member of a powerful political family.
Here’s the full transcript of the exchange:
CUOMO: Your son’s running for Congress. You say, I won’t endorse him because ‘I don’t like dynastic politics.’ Why? It’s only two of you. I got two in my own family. That’s no dynasty.
SANDERS: Well, actually, I have more than two. My son is running on Medicare for all, raising the minimum wage.
SANDERS: He is running on programs that —
CUOMO: He’s like a better looking Bernie, that guy.
SANDERS: I think — I think that, you know, I don’t believe in dynastic politics. He’s on his own. He’s going to speak to the people of New Hampshire, and I’m sure he’s going to do very well.
CUOMO: But you can’t cut your son loose, though. I know your brother is running, but he’s in the U.K.
SANDERS: Chris, Chris, I don’t. I don’t believe in dynastic politics.
CUOMO: I know you don’t.
SANDERS: I believe — that’s what my view is. I think and I’m proud that he’s standing up for the working people of New Hampshire. He has worked hard for working people, low-income people his whole life. And that’s what I happened to believe.
CUOMO: Who’s better for working people, you or him?
SANDERS: He’s doing a great job. We’ll let the voters of New Hampshire make that decision.
What the fuck?? CLEARLY Bernie loves the work his son has done. He even goes out of his way to tout Levi’s policy proposals! This is, in everything but name, an endorsement. So what gives with this insane “I don’t believe in dynastic politics” excuse? Does Bernie know something about Levi that he’s not telling us? (I mean, probably, he is his dad). What dark secrets is the Sanders family keeping hidden? What the hell is going on here??
Levi, meanwhile, has been surprisingly good-natured about the weirdly cold shoulder his dad is giving him.