Deadbeat Dad: How Bernie's Craven Political Ambition Kept Him from Supporting His Young Child


This weekend saw Bernie Sanders' kicked off his second presidential campaign. The Sanders campaign has billed his kickoff rallies in Brooklyn and Chicago as places where Bernie Sanders has roots - he was born in Brooklyn, and he attended University of Chicago, graduating in 1964 with a degree in political science.

What the campaign and the candidate doesn't want us to think about though, is why, after spending his formative years in racially diverse communities, Bernie Sanders chose to settle in Vermont, a state that is to this day almost 95% white.

But I digress.

Bernie Sanders bought property in Vermont on 1964 and settled there full-time in 1968. A year later, his first child, Levi Sanders, was born to his then-girlfriend, Susan Campbell Mott. Although the elder Sanders had worked as a carpenter and a writer after he graduated college, his quickly found his true profession: perpetually running for office. Sanders joined the socialist Liberty Union Party and began contesting in elections. No, not city council races. He ran for governor and senator of Vermont in the 1972 elections. He got 2% of the vote for governor, and 1% for senator. Bernie didn't have much competition to get the Liberty Union nominations, either, as party members recall "running anybody and everybody they could find."

Then he ran again for the Senate on the Liberty Union Party ticket in 1974, and won 4% of the vote, and again for governor two years later, winning 6% of the vote.

After being stuck on single digits while identifying with the political party he essentially founded, Bernie Sanders decided that it wasn't serving his ambitions well enough and decided to start running as an independent. He ran as an independent for Mayor of Burlington, VT in 1981, and won by 10 votes.

He served as mayor until 1989, although he would taste defeat again in the race for the at-large Congressiona seat in Vermont, losing to Republican Peter Smith by 4 points. Peter Smith, though, did something unforgivable for a Republican, and voted for the assault weapons ban. The NRA turned on him, called Bernie Sanders a "more honorable choice" because of Smith's vote, and in the rematch between Sanders and Smith in 1990, Sanders, who to the NRA's delight opposed a mandatory waiting period for the purchase of firearms, defeated Smith with the NRA's tacit support.

The rest, as they say, is history.

But we are not here to talk about Bernie Sanders' electoral history. We're here to talk about what happened in Vermont after Bernie Sanders moved there and started running for office.

In 1971, Vermont was debating a tenant's rights bill. One of the testimonials to Vermont's State Senate Judiciary Committee came from one Susan Mott of Burlington, who said the legislation did not go far enough in prohibiting discrimination against single mothers and recipients of welfare benefits. Mott had one child and was on welfare.

That one child, introduced earlier in this essay, was Levi Sanders, Bernie Sanders' son.

Which begs the question, why did Bernie Sanders' (former?) girlfriend and his son have to be on welfare? Where was the University of Chicago graduate's considerable marketable skills? What was 5-year-old Levi's father doing that he couldn't afford to support his own child?

It turns out he was too busy coming in third with single digit votes.

Major kudos and hat-tip on this find to M. Mendoza Ferrer on Twitter.


Prior to his election as mayor of Burlington, Sanders' income from a single film and writing was not enough to pay child support. In fact, the $33,800 (roughly $94,000 in today's dollars) salary as mayor was his first real full time employment. He doesn't even remember what type of regular work he did before.

And so, his own child ended up on welfare because his father could not - no, would not - support his child despite having a college degree, which, at that time, was fairly rare.

That makes Bernie Sanders a deadbeat dad. Bernie Sanders' infatuation with his own political ambition kept him from supporting his own child.

Not fair? Sure it is. Tell me that had a black candidate for office neglected his child so he could run for office, this wouldn't be a huge issue. Tell me it wouldn't be plastered everywhere on the media if a woman candidate were to have been found doing this in their late 20s and 30s.

You can't.

Bernie Sanders' neglect of his young child is not seen as an issue now only because he is a white man. Make no mistake, this is the precise behavior that is embedded in today's bro culture that is culting for Bernie to be president.

For all his browbeating about "the establishment", Bernie Sanders is a professional politician. He's been running for office - instead of taking care of his child - since he was 30 years old. He's been running for office or been in office for nearly 60 years. That is all he has ever done. And he didn't let anything - even a duty to his child - get in the way of his political ambition.

Bernie Sanders is a professional politician and a deadbeat dad.