Despite the scores of megabytes devoted over the past two weeks to Bernie Sanders’ sexual manifesto in a 1972 fringe publication, printed in the same decade that he launched his life in Vermont’s political scene, there’s one corner of the World Wide Web where fans of the man can escape any acknowledgement of the candidate’s life before his first big win.
That place: Sanders’ own campaign website.
An interactive timeline – which pulls up stories about his humble Brooklyn roots, and early activism as a student living in Chicago eliminates the tale of his life in 1970s Vermont altogether.
In a series of buttons that can be found in the “Meet Bernie” page of his site, led by a big red button that says “View Timeline” a user can read through an “Intro,” and a tour complete with archival photos, to see what Sanders was up to in the “1960s,” the “1980s” and, his more notable “1990s,” “2000s” and “2010s.”
But when it comes to filling in the gaps about his personal and public life prior to winning the role of mayor of Burlington in 1981? There’s zilch.
A campaign worker responding to an email inquiry by VTDigger explained: “Leaving out the 1970s was a choice that we made, because the timeline is about showing the largest events in Bernie’s life.”
In the 1970s, Sanders was a new dad, filed for divorce from a “college sweetheart,” and gained the traction that brought him from 1,500 votes in a special Senate race in 1972 to 11,300 in a failed bid for governor in 1976.
Here are a few highlights:
1968: Moved to Vermont, part of a wave that boosted the population here by 30 percent over the decade, landing in a rustic abode in Middlesex.*
1969: Welcomes son, Levi, into the world.
1971: Divorces with first wife, his college girlfriend.*
September 1972: Loses first U.S. Senate race in a September special election, scoring just 2 percent of the vote, with 1,571 votes.
October 1972: First televised debate, for the governor’s seat, after he criticized the Burlington Free Press for excluding him from an earlier debate.
November 1972: Loses his run for Vermont governor, landing 1 percent of the vote, or 2,175 votes. A month later, he writes about his adventures on the campaign trail in Chittenden Magazine.
November 1974: Loses second U.S. Senate race to Patrick Leahy (D), but scores 4.1 percent with 5,901 votes
November 1976: Loses his second gubernatorial election, losing to Republican Richard Snelling, but nets 11,317 votes, and comes in third with 6.1 percent of the voters.
October 1977: Sanders quits the Liberty Union Party, saying the party failed to “remain active on a year-round basis in the struggles of working people against the banks and corporations that own and control Vermont.”
When campaign adviser Michael Briggs returned a request for comment, he said Sanders’ failed bids for office weren’t being covered up, just that they hadn’t yet made it on to the campaign website.
“For the last year he has spoken about that race,” he said, speaking of the 1976 gubernatorial race. “There was a great question from a 3rd-grade or 4th-grade girl in the audience (in Iowa) who had just lost for a student election, and he just very touchingly told her about how how he ran his first several races and did very poorly and to never, ever give up,” he recalled.
Briggs pointed out that Sanders has never shied away from discussing his losses.
“And if the folks who put together the Web page haven’t reflected that, at this point, I’m sure we’ll do something to reflect that on the timelines soon,” he added.
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the year that Sanders’ first child was born.*
* Editor’s Note: These items were originally written using information found at various online news outlets, which we sourced via links. Our follow-up story on July 9, Bernie Sanders’ Early Days in Vermont: His Life, Loves, and Circuitous Route to Politics corrects the record. The original text here intentionally reflects earlier press errors.