Days before the last major primaries of the 2016 campaign, Jane Sanders gave us a tour of her home in Burlington, Vt. A cream-clapboard Colonial with a red door on a quiet residential street, it is exactly the kind of house where you’d expect doting grandparents to live.
There are family photos on all the walls of the Sanders’ five children and seven grandchildren, a clutter of knickknacks on all the shelves, and piles of mail, magazines and the stuff of daily life everywhere else.
In the room adjacent to the kitchen, the floor is covered with grandchildren’s toys: drums, a keyboard — things that make noise that their parents prefer stay here rather than come home. In the dining room, Sanders moves a miniature Nativity scene out of view. “We’ve hardly been home since Christmas,” she says by way of explanation. Nearby is an antique sculpture of Don Quixote, which she asks that I not write about as a metaphor.
But it’s not the statue that cries out with symbolism. It’s the framed prints on the walls nearby — all scenes from the White House. They were commissioned and sent as Christmas cards every year of the Clinton presidency, and they bear the signatures of both Hillary and Bill Clinton. Which means Jane and Bernie Sanders sit in their dining room and gaze at greetings from the Clintons.
“I guess maybe we should do something else with those,” she says. Then she explains, proudly, that they were among the first things that her daughter, now a professional woodworker, custom-framed by hand, and you get the sense they aren’t going anywhere.