Jane Sanders: Why Bernie Voters Shouldn't Get Over It

Bernie's wife discusses her proudest and most difficult campaign moments, the DNC email leak and the future of his revolution
© Gage Skidmore, Flickr CC

On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders formally nominated Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee for president, officially drawing to a close a hard-fought, 14-month campaign that brought him within spitting distance of the White House. It was a bittersweet moment — not just because he came so close and fell short, and not just because his brother, Larry, was there to say publicly how proud their parents would be, but because it came just a few days after evidence surfaced that the Democratic National Committee had, as Sanders claimed months earlier, favored the Clinton campaign while claiming to remain neutral during the primary.

Inside the DNC convention hall Tuesday, many of Sanders’ delegates walked out in protest. Outside, supporters from all over the country marched and chanted. But sitting in his box inside the Wells Fargo Arena, Sanders never betrayed his frustration.

Neither did his fiercest defender, staunchest ally and closest adviser: his wife, Jane, who was by his side all week, and throughout the campaign.

After the dust settled Wednesday, Rolling Stone sat down with Jane O’Meara Sanders to discuss this roller coaster of a week — and year — and to find out where she and Bernie will go from here.

Last night during the nomination roll call, Bernie’s brother, Larry, had the chance to cast his vote for Bernie on behalf of the delegation of Democrats living abroad. What was that moment like?

That was emotional. It was a surprise. I knew he was going to be with the Democrats Abroad. I didn’t know that they were going to ask him to cast his vote separately. Bernie and Larry lost their parents when they were young — Bernie was 19 when his mom died, and 21 when his dad died. So, you know, to be thinking how his parents would feel to see Bernie over this last year and then Larry, as a delegate, to vote for his brother for president — that was an unbelievable moment.

Bernie got a little choked up.

Yeah! And that’s not like him — he tends to be very serious and rational. But, I mean, you talk about your parents at a time like this, and your brother is there with you, and your whole family is with you — four kids and all the grandkids. It was pretty amazing.

That was the last real obligation Bernie had this week. How are you feeling now that most of the work is done?

Relieved, a bit? Though all the work is not done. We’re moving to a new chapter.

There was a period of time where we were working with the Clinton campaign to have her agree, and the Clinton delegates agree, to the most progressive platform in a number of areas, and to hammer out a health care bill that provides a public option and doubles funding for health centers, and a higher education bill that allows people making under $120,000 a year — that’s 83 percent of our population — to be able to send their kids to college tuition-free at public colleges and universities.

He could have conceded long before, and people — the media — were asking every time we saw them, “When are you going to concede? When are you going to endorse?” That was difficult, because we stayed in as long as we could to use as much leverage as we could to get everything we possibly could get, including the rules committee, where we rethink how we run these elections.

He’s not going to win the presidency, we’ve known that since June 7th [the day of the last big primaries, in California and New Jersey], but we had to do as much as we possibly could on the issues to honor all of the work that so many people have done, and that we did. So that’s why I say it’s a bit of a relief now — now we can move to the next chapter.

How granular did those discussions with the Clinton campaign get?

Very, very, very. This is not conceptual at all. It’s policy. Where is the money coming from? How are we going to do it? All of it is in stone. It’s good.

What kind of assurances did you get to ensure they’ll follow through on these agreements?

It’s funny. My daughter was speaking to somebody with a spiritual background, and he said, “Bernie lit the flame — now we’ll hold their feet to the fire.” And that is exactly what we need, from all the people. Bernie can do some of it, but, just like the campaign, it’s not about him — it’s about all of us.

Can you tell me about some of the hardest moments for you on the campaign trail?

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See also:
I’m Sticking With Sanders—And Voting For Clinton
The Pragmatic Impacts of Sanders’ Big Dreams