Despite a recent heart attack, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has maintained his slow and steady pace in his current bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, coming in reliably second or third in most polling. Bernie (I find it impossible to call him “Sanders”, so associated is he with his nickname) famously broke upon the national political scene when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination, and while he failed in that attempt, he came remarkably close for someone with very little name recognition prior to throwing his hat in the ring. Bernie quickly became the darling of the progressive left, but also pulled from much of the same demographic of working class blue collar voters that fueled Trump’s grievance campaign. With fellow ultra-progressive Elizabeth Warren flailing of late, assuming Joe Biden stumbles and falls at some point early on in the process, Bernie Sanders would seem to be the man most likely to step into the breach. But would that be a winning choice for Democrats?
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, Bernie’s 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 Bernie 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 Bernie virtually unlimited energy reserves; at 78, 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 Bernie attracts, the inveterate nature of his following which has remained loyal since 2016, and the unlikely, almost rock star manner in which he is received especially by young people.
The Sun’s only major aspect is a square to Jupiter at 19 Gemini, which gives Bernie a stature beyond his 5 foot 8 inch, slender frame and wizened, wild-haired appearance. Sun square Jupiter also indicates a natural pull toward politics, a capacity for bonhomie which Bernie 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 Bernie’s 2016 campaign certainly caught that, though it remains to be seen if he’s fully adjusted to the post-Trump era.
The Moon is in Aries for the entire day of Bernie’s 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 Bernie to step back, pause for thought, pull his punches when necessary. He boasts that in 39 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 Bernie in drawing others into his orbit via his rhetoric and ideas. Trump’s 8 Cancer Mercury conjoins a spotlighting Quasar – people come to him for the show, the flash, the carnival atmosphere, the never-a-dull-moment quality to his speeches. With Bernie, people come for the message; Mercury in Libra, noted for its politesse and diplomatic skills, is another signature of his “make nice” campaign style. Mercury is also sextile Pluto at 5 Leo and trine Uranus at 0 Gemini, making Bernie 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 (Saturn), and an opposed urge to break down, revolutionize and innovate (Uranus). With these conjunct, it’s appropriate that Bernie’s 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), Bernie’s biggest asset in the 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, allowing Trump to paint his as too extreme left-wing for America.
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 deep-rooted “independent” stance, and itself conjoins asteroid Whitehouse at 6 Sagittarius, conveying a natural pull towards the presidency. I caution readers to remember that having a strong Whitehouse contact doesn’t guarantee victory – Hillary Clinton had asteroid Hillary exactly opposed it. But it does show someone with the capacity to be in it to the end.
Asteroid America at 2 Cancer is exactly squared Mercury; Bernie has the ability to connect with the American people, to project his vision of the country, and is the perfect mouthpiece for populist views. A T-Square with TNO Eris at 4 Aries explains Bernie’s popularity with segments of the population which identify as marginalized, disrespected and left behind. Ironically, many of these same voters identify with Donald Trump, Bernie’s political polar opposite.
Asteroid Washingtonia at 25 Leo is closely conjunct asteroid Truth at 24 Leo; Bernie’s 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 was overcoming a perceived lack of truthfulness and authenticity on her part.) These square Saturn, making speaking truth to power an essential component of Bernie’s career arc. Asteroid Senator at 24 Virgo is just coming into orb of conjunction with the Sun, suggesting Bernie’s 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 Bernie may have difficulty distinguishing where that line is drawn.
Bernie has been married twice; his first marriage to Deborah Shiling occurred when he was in his early twenties and ended in divorce after two years. Asteroid Deborah at 3 Sagittarius conjoins asteroid Sanders, linking them personally, and is exactly sextile asteroid Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, at 3 Libra, as well as squared asteroid Hera, her Greek counterpart, at 2 Virgo. But there’s no direct connection to Bernie’s Venus, denoting romantic attraction and intimacy, or Mars, arbiter of sexual attraction, one reason the union may have failed.
Not so for second wife Jane. After more than twenty years a bachelor, Bernie married Mary Jane O’Meara in 1988, and their 30-year-plus marriage seems to have been very successful. Asteroids Mary and O’Meara at 7 and 8 Virgo conjoin Hera, asteroid Bernie and the Sun, showing a very tight, strong personal connection to Bernie himself and the theme of partnership. Both Mary and O’Meara are also semisquare Venus at 22 Libra, planetary ruler of marriage, indicating romantic connections and an intimate footing between the couple.
Known most commonly by her middle name of Jane, there’s no exact asteroid match, but Jana at 17 Gemini conjoins Bernie’s Jupiter and is trine Venus, as well as sextile Mars at 23 Aries. The double contact between Venus and Mars promotes their romantic relationship, but also shows Jane as a staunch supporter and defender of her husband. The Jupiter connection suggests Jane’s pivotal role in Bernie’s political life; he has described his wife as “one of my key advisers”, and the Senator has employed her at various times as an administrative assistant, spokeswoman, policy adviser, chief of staff, and media buyer. In a 1996 article in The Washington Post, she was credited with helping him draft more than 50 pieces of legislation.
With asteroid Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, at 3 Virgo, conjoined Hera, Sanders’ partner is likely to prove an important factor in any success. Having Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, at 21 Libra closely conjoined Venus is a firm reiteration of the significance of his spouse to enacting his winning potential.
We’ve mentioned Truth conjunct Washingtonia, which gives Bernie the street creds to oppose DC’s malfeasance and corruption. But there’s another influence in his chart that adds to his overall image of genuineness and authenticity. This is asteroid Veritas, Latin for “truth”, which at 19 Capricorn is not only trine the Sun, but also stationary, making truthfulness and plain speaking an embedded, integral part of his character. Veritas turned direct the very day of his birth, and also forms a T-Square with that Venus/Mars opposition, allowing him to present the truth with vigor and certitude, but hopefully also a bit of tact.
What are Bernie’s chances in 2020, for the nomination and the general election, should he win through?
We’re limited in our diagnostic tools; without a time birth, we can’t truly cast a Solar Return, which can give vital clues to a year’s potential. We can look at his birthdate anniversary in general, but the info won’t be as specific as if we had an actual chart.
The primary season is governed by his prior birthday, on 8 Septembers 2019, and the general election itself is governed by the 2020 birthday. Both feature the Sun opposed by Neptune, which has been harrying Bernie for some time. In 2019 Neptune was two degrees past opposition, at 17 Pisces, still a potent force; by 2020 that margin will widen to 4 degrees, with Neptune moving further away at 19 Pisces, but still a factor.
Neptune can be inspiring, but also encourages false hope, unrealistic expectations, and often leads to disappointment or disillusionment. It’s an energy which is hard to pin down, and not at all the sort of ground upon which to build a firm foundation, but that grassroots groundwork has already been laid by the 2016 campaign, and Neptune can also promote a “go with the flow” energy which could prove useful as conditions change, allowing Bernie to adapt with them.
With the 15 Virgo Sun in 2019 was Mars at 13 Virgo, Mercury at 19, and Venus at 22. Mars with the Sun brings an indefatigable quality to Bernie, who survived a heart attack in October 2019 and returned to the campaign trail after just a few weeks. It also encourages his scrappy, feisty demeanor, and potentially defines him as a champion, a fighter for the people. Mercury with the Sun allows for easy identification of Bernie with his message, which flows authentically from his core; Venus here says the message is well-received. All this reinforces how Bernie is already viewed by the public, so while there’s not much new here, there’s also no dissonance created to knock him off his Primary game.
Jupiter exactly squared the Sun from 15 Sagittarius is a highly beneficial aspect, allowing for growth and expansion, especially in a political context. Jupiter relates to fundraising as well, and the Sanders campaign just took in a whopping $34.5 million in the last quarter of 2019 (some $10 million more than his nearest competitor), just after the solar return kicked in, ending the year with more than $100 million cash in hand, a hefty war chest for the Primary season. This aspect will be strongly reinforced by a Lunar Eclipse at 15 Sag on June 5th, 2020, just as the Primary season is wrapping up and still within the scope of the 2019 solar return.
A combination of asteroids Nike and Victoria at 7 and 10 Leo with asteroid Whitehouse at 13 could augur for a successful run for the nomination, but by the time the 2020 solar return takes charge and we get to the general election, this triplet will no longer be in force, so it is of doubtful utility in the long haul. But that in itself accords with the popular wisdom, that Bernie could well gain the nomination but face defeat in November, as a self-professed “Democratic Socialist” would be far too easy to paint as ultraliberal by the Trump Campaign.
That Trump will prove a force in the 2019 solar return period is illustrated by asteroid Troemper at 11 Capricorn, embedded at station, indicating a greater-than-usual importance for Bernie this year. Troemper turned direct little more than a week before Bernie’s birthday, and its square to Troemper from asteroid Sanders at 18 Aries shows the conflict between them, something reinforced in the 2020 solar return by an opposition from Troemper at 0 Gemini to asteroid Bernie at 28 Scorpio. Sanders is also squared the forming Saturn/Pluto conjunction, at 13 and 20 Capricorn in 2019, and opposed their separating conjunction in the 2020 chart, with Sanders at 23 Cancer, Pluto at 22 Cap and Saturn at 25.
Bernie’s Sun at his birthday in 2020 still opposes Neptune, but is unassisted by any of the coterie from 2019, isolated and alone, at least by conjunction. There is a trine from Jupiter at 17 Capricorn which could be supportive; Jupiter is at station, about to go direct four days later, and forms a Grand Trine with Uranus at 10 Taurus. This could suggest an unexpected political outcome, but that cuts both ways, depending what the expectation is at the time, to win or lose.
Mercury at 2 Libra has returned to its natal degree, reenergizing the natal square to asteroid America (thus providing Bernie with a fresh conduit to the American voter), and is accompanied by Nike and Victoria, at 3 and 4 Libra. This could signal a win at the polls, but the issue is clouded by Nemesis at 11 Libra, which argues for ruin or downfall. A likely outcome of this grouping would be a win in the popular vote, once again thrashed by an Electoral College defeat.
Mars comes to its retrograde station the day after Bernie’s 2020 birthday; at 28 Aries it is sesquiquadrate his Sun and exactly inconjunct asteroid Bernie at 28 Scorpio. Neither is especially encouraging, especially when Bernie’s square to Damocles at 25 Aquarius is factored into the equation; it suggests doom hanging overhead for the Sanders (Bernie) campaign (Mars). Asteroid Whitehouse at 24 Libra forms a T-square with Mars and Saturn/Pluto, providing another potential celestial pitfall to navigate.
Another way to look at Bernie Sanders’ chances in 2020 is to assess his PNAs for the year. Asteroid Sanders is direct throughout the period, a positive sign of forward momentum, but asteroid Bernie has a three month retrograde period, from late March through late June, right smack dab in the middle of the most crucial phase of the Primary contest. This may cause the campaign to retreat or retrench, slow movement, even come to grinding halt.
Due to this retrograde, Bernie will be in Scorpio for most of the year, from November 2019 through September 2020, one of the more difficult Signs to manage. And Sanders, though direct, has its share of inimical contacts, coming into squares with Saturn and Pluto in mid-February, a conjunction with Uranus in mid-March, and oppositions to Saturn/Pluto in early September.
Bernie has a shot here, but it ain’t no bed of roses. Much as I admire and appreciate Bernie Sanders, my personal feeling is that his attaining of the nomination would be a disaster for the general election. Both Party bases will come out for their standard bearers, but Bernie is too easily tarred as extreme for those few persuadables who will decide this election, and the Democrats are facing enough of an electoral headwind to risk flying a kite like that.