Jane Sanders Makes Bernie Sanders Who He Is

by Melissa Cruz

They say behind every great man is a great woman, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and wife Jane Sanders are no exception. In a fascinating profile of Jane Sanders released in The New York Times on Monday, the female half of this political couple gets her much overdue moment in the spotlight. Though her husband has been known for his work on the Senate floor and has more recently spiked in popularity during his bid for the White House, Jane's efforts have been helping keep him afloat personally and politically for years.

She has worked both behind the scenes and on the front lines for her husband, and is credited with not only helping him directly in the political arena, but also softening up his characteristically grumpy demeanor. She often reminds him to lighten up on the "doom and gloom" aspect of his speeches, injecting that there must be "hope at the end of the tunnel" for his voters.

Jane obviously shares the ideology of her self-proclaimed Democratic socialist husband, as well. A community organizer and activist in her own right, she helps bring balance as well as her own passionate flare to Bernie's campaign. Here are a few of the fascinating facts shared in Jane's New York Times profile.

She Participates In Political Activism With Bernie


Bernie recently marched through the streets of Baltimore in honor of the death of Freddie Gray, who many say died at the hands of police brutality. Jane marched alongside him, and later took notes while the couple met with black pastors to discuss the issues of police brutality and racial inequality.

She Will Travel In Place Of Bernie On The Campaign Trail

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Jane will act as a surrogate to her husband on the campaign trail, traveling alone to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. There, she will speak on behalf of Bernie, a definite nod to her importance to the campaign given the stakes in Iowa.

She Knows Both Economic Hardship And Success, An Experience She's Taken To Bernie's Politics

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The youngest of five siblings, Jane's life was wrought with economic difficulties at a young age. After her father broke his hip, an incident that would lead to decades' worth of financial struggles, her family finally caught a break when her brother began a professional career as an equestrian trainer. This up-and-down financial struggle gave her a firsthand taste of economic inequality. She not only brings this perspective to Bernie's politics, but also once worked as a commissioner for the Vermont Economic Development Authority.

She Worked As Bernie's Chief Of Staff

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In 1990, when Bernie was first elected to Congress, Jane worked as his chief of staff. She was integral to his success as a congressman, vetting aides for him based on their experience and ideology.

Bernie May Have Not Become A Congressman At All Without Jane's Help

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Jane helped Bernie win his initial run for the House in 1990, and later his campaign for a Senate seat. Through her assistance and support, he went from mayor of Burlington, Vermont, to a member of the House of Representatives in nine short years. Jane and Bernie's work desks even sit beside one another in his campaign headquarters in Burlington.

She's Always Been Involved In Politics

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Jane's marriage to Bernie didn't spur her initial interest in politics. Rather, he merely complemented an already existing passion. She initially began her work as a community organizer, and later ran Burlington's youth office.

She Helped Form The Basis Of Bernie's Platform

Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If there's one thing Bernie is known for, it's his progressive politics. This is in large part thanks to his wife, who was a major player in helping form the House's Progressive Caucus. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the largest in the House Democratic Caucus, and is designed to help fight for civil rights and economic justice, both staples of Bernie's platform.

She Was A College President

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Because of Senate rules restricting her from serving in her husband's office, she temporarily worked in education. Jane initially served as interim provost at Goddard College, and later became the president of Burlington College in 2004, resigning in 2011.

She Humanizes Bernie, America's Favorite Grumpy Grandpa

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After a rough patch in the campaign trail that saw Bernie drop further in the polls to Hillary Clinton, Jane decided to open up their Vermont home to guests for tours. She had Bernie barbecue out back, and asked her grandson to impersonate the politician's famous, dramatic speaking style.

It goes to show that without Jane, Bernie just wouldn't be the same. As a political activist, confidant, and wife, she stands in her own right to push for what is one of politics' most progressive campaigns in history.