Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ meteoric rise in the polls since announcing his candidacy last April has stunned the political talking heads, as the equivalent, on the Democratic side, of the Trump phenomenon in the GOP. In fact, in states where caucuses and primaries are open, or where voters can change party registration at the last minute, anecdotal evidence suggests that many voters are torn between the two.
Both tap into the angst of the American public, both are outspoken (though of very different temperament) and have the reputation of truth-talking. Both are drawing by far the largest crowds in the contest so far, with tens of thousands attending their rallies across the country.
But there the comparison ends. Trump spent a lifetime building an impressive business resume and an even more impressive bank account, but has no political experience whatsoever; Sanders has been in public service for more than 35 years, with extensive executive and legislative experience. Trump’s campaign is self-funding; Sanders has raised millions from small donors (with average contributions of $27 each), and accepts no corporate contributions. Perhaps most significant, whereas Trump may in fact gain his party’s nomination, and seems poised to do so, Sanders’ road to the White House is far less surefooted.
But he battled the Clinton machine to parity in Iowa (where Hillary’s margin of victory literally came down to a half-dozen tosses of the coin) and won an impressive victory in New Hampshire, remarkable achievements from someone with virtually no name recognition whatsoever just nine months before. The problem is, it’s difficult to see, barring a few contests in the upper mid-West and Pacific Northwest, how Sanders can garner enough delegates to overcome Hillary Clinton’s massive demographic advantages with minorities and seniors.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What about Bernie Sanders, the man? Let’s see if we can’t astrologically “feel the Bern”. We’re somewhat hampered in our efforts, as in so many presidential contenders this cycle, by the lack of a birth time for Sanders. So while much can be known, there is a whole level of nuance and emphasis which eludes us.
Born 8 September 1941, Sanders’ 15 Virgo Sun is well on display in the sort of kvetchy, terse presentation style and grumbling, curmudgeonly outlook. He’s matter-of-fact and there’s also a bit of hesitancy as Sanders probes for just the right word, with Virgoan precision; he’s a policy wonk who can become lost in the details. The Sun also conjoins a Black Hole at 14 Virgo, granting Sanders virtually unlimited energy reserves; at 74, his grueling campaign schedule would daunt a much younger man, but Sanders, who would be the oldest elected US president by far, takes it in stride. There is also the ability to draw in others, to a cause, to oneself, to a movement, which seems self-evident from the crowds Sanders attracts, and the unlikely, almost rock-star manner in which he is received.
The Sun’s only major aspect is a square to Jupiter at 19 Gemini, which gives Sanders a stature beyond his five-foot-eight-inch, slender frame and wizened, wild-haired appearance (what is it with presidential contenders and hairstyles this year?). Sun square Jupiter also indicates a natural pull toward politics, a capacity for bonhomie which Sanders rarely evinces, and a bit of “luck” coming just when it’s needed.
Also with Jupiter is a minor body, centaur Asbolus, at 18 Gemini. Asbolus was named for a seer who augured the future by observing the flight of birds, and it has the capacity to enable the native strongly tapped into its energy to feel the pulse of a situation, have his finger to the wind, judge the trends and foresee likely outcomes. It’s a version of being aligned with the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, and Sanders’ campaign has certainly caught that.
The Moon is in Aries for the entire day of Sanders’ birth, and may be conjunct Mars at 23 Aries. Bernie is surely a fighter, a scrappy, yappy pug taking on the Rottweiler of crony capitalism. Moon in Aries is an ideal placement for a leader, someone able to enthuse and energize others, to spearhead or champion a cause. But it can also be blunt and somewhat myopic, focused on the goal without understanding or anticipating the problems encountered along the way to achieving it.
Mars is retrograde and opposes Venus at 22 Libra, a combination which allows Sanders to step back, pause for thought, pull his punches when necessary. He boasts that in 35 years of campaigning, he has never run a negative ad. This is surely a consequence of Mars and Venus in such relationship—his battles (Mars) are more genteel (Venus) than is common in the political arena.
Mercury is in Libra also. At 2 degrees, it conjoins the largest supermassive Black Hole of which we are aware, an invaluable asset for Sanders in drawing others into his orbit via his rhetoric and ideas. Trump’s 8 Cancer Mercury conjoins a spotlighting Quasar—people are coming to him for the show, the flash, the carnival atmosphere, the never-a-dull-moment quality to his speeches. With Sanders, people come for the message; Mercury in Libra is another signature of his “make nice” campaign style. Mercury is also sextile Pluto at 5 Leo and trine Uranus at 0 Gemini, making Sanders a deep thinker, someone able to motivate others, with a focus on their empowerment (all Pluto), as well as delighting in throwing a spanner into the works, exhorting revolution and change, and shocking others out of their complacency with visions of what could be (all Uranus).
Saturn at 28 Taurus conjoins Uranus, so there is a simultaneous urge to conserve, construct and maintain, and an opposed urge to break down, revolutionize and innovate. With these conjunct, it’s appropriate that Sanders’ career (Saturn) has been built on his proud stance as an Independent (Uranus), unwilling to commit to the strictures that party membership imposes. A self-avowed “Democratic Socialist” (socialism being Uranus-ruled), Sanders’ biggest asset in this “year of the outsider” primary season is his unwillingness to compromise his principles and subsume them to political convenience; but his socialism is also his worst liability in a general election.
So much for the broad bones of the chart. Looking at minor bodies, we can fill in the gaps.
Like many with a PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) referent, Sanders can be found in his own chart by the conjunction of asteroid Bernie at 12 Virgo with the 15 Virgo Sun, linking his name to his core essence and identity. Asteroid Sanders at 0 Sagittarius exactly opposes Uranus, perhaps the source of his inveterate “independent” stance, and itself conjoins asteroid Whitehouse at 6 Sagittarius, conveying a natural pull towards the presidency.
Asteroid America at 2 Cancer is exactly squared Mercury: Sanders has the ability to connect with the American people, to project his vision of the country, and is the perfect mouthpiece for populist views. Asteroid Washingtonia at 25 Leo is closely conjunct asteroid Truth at 24 Leo; Sanders’ plain speaking and “telling it like it is” are notorious in the nation’s capital, where many see him as a truth-teller. (In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton’s natal Washingtonia at 21 Virgo conjoins asteroid Lie at 22 Virgo; her biggest challenge is overcoming a perceived lack of truthfulness and authenticity on her part.)
Asteroids Washingtonia and Truth square Saturn, making speaking truth to power an essential component of Sanders’ career arc. Asteroid Senator at 24 Virgo is just coming into orb of conjunction with the Sun, suggesting Sanders’ most well-known public role. It more closely conjoins Neptune at 26 Virgo, a sign that as Senator, Sanders would be idealistic, but perhaps impractical concerning his agenda. Politics is sometimes defined as “the art of the possible”, and Sanders may have difficulty distinguishing where that line is drawn.
Let’s take a quick look at Bernie Sanders’ electoral history, to see if any patterns emerge that might suggest his ultimate fate in 2016.
Sanders made three abortive runs at the Vermont governor’s mansion and a Senate seat in the ‘70s, but his first successful campaign was for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, which occurred 3 March 1981. Sanders won as an Independent, by a margin of 10 votes out of nearly 10,000 cast, beating both a Democrat and a Republican. The Sun that day at 12 Pisces exactly opposed his natal asteroid Bernie, making him shine, as well as moving to exactly oppose his natal Sun. Additionally, transit asteroid Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, exactly conjoined natal Bernie, while transit Nike, named for the Greek goddess of victory, at 3 Scorpio was exactly sextile natal asteroid Victoria at 3 Virgo. Transit asteroid Bernie at 22 Scorpio was slowing as it approached its station, which would occur less than three weeks later, at 23 Scorpio, giving Sanders the “staying power” to achieve his goal. Transit asteroid Sanders at 28 Virgo was sandwiched between natal Neptune at 26 Virgo and natal Mercury at 2 Libra, increasing voter empathy (Neptune) and his own ability to project his message (Mercury) authentically (Bernie).
When Sanders won his first congressional seat on 6 November 1990, transit Sanders and asteroid Bernardi (a variant of his full first name, Bernard) were conjunct at 2 Virgo, just a degree off natal Victoria. Transit Victoria at 28 Cancer was semisquare the natal Sun and natal Bernie while transit Bernie at 2 Leo was conjunct natal Pluto, increasing the scope of his personal power.
Sanders’ successful run for US Senate culminated with a victory at the polls on 7 November 2006, with transit Sanders at 2 Gemini involved in a T-Square uniting transit Nike at 3 Sagittarius (itself conjunct natal Sanders) and natal Victoria at 3 Virgo. Transit Bernie and Bernardi at 13 and 16 Cancer were both trine the Sun at 15 Scorpio, and both within days of their retrograde stations (Bernie had stationed three days before, on November 4, and Bernardi would follow suit three days after, on November 10). Transit Senator at 5 Leo was an exact match for Sanders’ natal Pluto, representing the power upgrade of his new office.
Sanders first announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on April 30, 2015, at an unsung, open-air press conference on Capitol grounds between Senate sessions. The Sun at 10 Taurus squared asteroids Whitehouse and America at 10 and 11 Leo, and was in trine to both transit asteroid Sanders at 11 Capricorn and Pluto at 15 Capricorn. Sanders was once again approaching station, which it would achieve less than three weeks later at 12 Capricorn. Transit Mercury at 29 Taurus had just passed natal Saturn and is trine transit asteroid Bernie at 26 Capricorn, making it prime territory for announcing (Mercury) a presidential (Saturn) bid for the Vermont Senator (Bernie).
Since his announcement, asteroid Sanders has had a traveling companion in the heavens—asteroid Hillary! The two have never been more than 6 degrees apart, but will begin to separate in mid-March, after Super Tuesday, and by the election they will be two signs apart. As with the ongoing Troemper/Busch asteroid conjunction which has colored the GOP race, the conjunction of Sanders and Hillary has been easy to see as it plays out terrestrially.
As the Vermont Senator’s popularity grew, Hillary Clinton adopted more and more of his rhetoric and talking points, an effect of their celestial namesakes “rubbing off” on each other; while for his part, Sanders has poached increasing numbers of traditional Hillary supporters. But unlike Trump and Bush, who have been at loggerheads throughout, the Clinton/Sanders rivalry has been largely genteel—even the recent allegations of smears and dirty politics, which emerged as Sanders encroached upon Clinton’s lead in Iowa and cemented his victory margin in New Hampshire, have been child’s play compared to what’s been going on in the Republican race (where most are acting like children).
At one point, in early January, all three asteroids, Hillary, Bernie and Sanders, came together in a rare triple conjunction, at just the time when the news was full of stories of the parity between the two campaigns, with Clinton and Sanders raising roughly equal amounts of money in the fourth quarter of 2015, and having roughly the same amount of cash on hand. This was just before Sanders battled Clinton to a draw in Iowa, losing by less than a quarter of a percentile, another indicator of the extremely close conjunction of their celestial counterparts.
Clinton’s chart shows some vulnerability at this time, with transit Pluto at 16 Capricorn exactly conjunct her natal asteroid Achilles, denoting a point of weakness, or exposure to loss. Transit Mercury was right there, at 17 Capricorn, heightening the danger of the vote (Mercury) for her, and was itself exactly squared transit Uranus at 17 Aries, indicating some shocks or surprises in the offing. These came for the former Secretary of State in the form of Sanders, whose PNA sits natally at 18 Libra in Clinton’s chart, currently squared by natal Achilles and the transit Pluto/Mercury conjunction.
Further, transit asteroid Nemesis at 6 Scorpio, a point representing undoing, was just pulling away from Clinton’s 2 Scorpio Sun, but still within orb. Natally, Clinton’s Nemesis at 27 Libra conjoins her natal asteroid Bernie at 23 Libra, identifying, from birth, a potential rival, adversary or competitor (just as natal Sanders squaring Achilles indicates vulnerability from that quarter), so the players were all in place to visit a brutal setback on the former Secretary of State.
By the time voting began, both candidates’ PNAs were also coming into orb with Neptune in early Pisces. Neptune can inspire, but it can also deceive and disappoint. Some controversy over the actual vote count in Iowa has still not been resolved, with the DNC refusing to release the full data as of this writing. It’s possible that Clinton actually came in second there, before her 22-point trouncing in New Hampshire.
At the Iowa caucus, neither PNA had yet reached Neptune at 8 Pisces, but Hillary at 6 Pisces was closer, with Bernie and Sanders trailing at 1 and 3 Pisces (but significantly, both opposing his natal Victoria). By New Hampshire, Hillary had crossed Neptune, coming out on the other side with a huge disappointment, with Bernie and Sanders rapidly closing in on Neptune, and still at the pre-conjunction, inspirational phase of their passage.
All this while, the candidates’ PNAs had been squaring asteroid Whitehouse in early Sagittarius. Hillary made its exact square on January 24, a bit early for Iowa, at 1 Pisces/Sagittarius (and incorporating her natal Jupiter at 0 Sagittarius, perhaps indicating the extreme “luck” of those victory-cementing coin tosses in Iowa). Sanders made its exact square to Whitehouse (at 6 Pisces/Sagittarius, with Whitehouse returning to its natal degree in Bernie Sanders’ chart exactly, conjoined his natal Sanders) on February 9, the very day of the New Hampshire primary, perfect timing for capitalizing on Neptune’s inspirational energies in his personal (Sanders) quest for the Oval Office (Whitehouse). Bernie followed suit, making its exact square to Whitehouse from 10 Pisces on February 23, midway between the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary.
The square to transit Saturn still loomed, with Hillary making that contact on February 16, Sanders on February 27, and Bernie on March 7. Saturn represents the chief executive, and in this case, the presidency itself, and is the fount of accomplishment, but it can also withhold or deny success, especially if its lessons have not been learned.
By the time of the Democratic caucus in Nevada on February 20, asteroid Hillary at 17 Pisces, having gotten its disappointing drubbing during its Neptune passage, was moving on out of orb of the planet of dreams and denial of reality. It was Bernie Sanders’ turn to reap the whirlwind, with a loss of 47 percent to Clinton’s 53 percent. Still, reasonably close, with asteroid Sanders just past Neptune at 12 Pisces and Bernie exactly conjunct it at 9 Pisces. Saturn at 15 Sagittarius was squaring both Sanders and Hillary, and seemed unable to take sides in this relatively equal contest.
It remained for South Carolina to take the last puff of Neptunian inspirational wind out of the Sanders campaign’s sails. Asteroid Hillary at 21 Pisces has now moved well beyond Neptune’s influence, and increasingly removed from Saturn’s, while Bernie at 12 Pisces and Sanders at 16 are still within orb of Neptune, and are now the only pertinent points to interact with Saturn. The planet of harsh realities came down like a hammer on the Vermont Senator, who received a virtual rout in the Palmetto State, losing badly to Clinton by a 74/26 split in the vote, a trouncing of almost 50 points, due largely to Clinton’s popularity among minority populations, which comprise more than half of the South Carolina Democratic electorate.
As enticing as Sanders’ message is, progressives might do well to support Clinton’s candidacy, if they hope to “threepeat” a White House win. By Election Day, her PNA is in a much stronger position than Sanders’, with asteroid Hillary at 16 Cancer virtually still in the heavens, about to turn retrograde two days later, and in exact trine to the transit Sun. Asteroid Sanders, on the other hand, is involved in a wide opposition to the Sun, from 24 Taurus, with Bernie at 24 Aries in a very weak inconjunct. Based solely on that metric, his chances of mounting a successful general election campaign don’t look very good.
Then again, transit Nike at 7 Sagittarius on Election Day conjoins his natal Whitehouse and squares his natal Victoria, while transit Victoria at 4 Libra conjoins natal Mercury (ruling the vote itself) and natal Bernardi at 5 Libra. A victory under these circumstances, which replicate some of his earlier electoral wins, isn’t at all out of the question. But it’s murky.