Rustin Swenson ‘Inspired’ Sanders’ Candidacy

By Wendy Walcoff

Last weekend at Champlain Orchards, Humans of Vermont met Rustin Swenson, a Norwegian turned Vermonter, and the self-proclaimed reason Bernie Sanders is running for Presidential office. We sought out Swenson for his refined taste in fashion, as he was adorned in a fine grey suit with a brightly colored vest, shirt and tie all of varying patterns. His hat read: “Swenson for Governor,” and his wide rimmed glasses seemed subtle compared to his wild white hair. He set the tone immediately as we approached him, reaching into his vest pocket and asking, “What do you want? To see my green card?” He laughed and began chatting away in a thick accent; words rolled off his tongue with quick wit as he first told us about his wife, his “favorite person in Vermont.”

“When I met my wife, wow,” he said. “She was driving an old Saab. My kind of car, right? She’s really fantastic.” When Swenson’s wife later came up to him during our interview, he introduced us.
“This is my lovely wife,” he said.

“Maisie, they’re interviewing weirdos.” She tried to urge him along, saying it was time to leave, but instead he held his ground and wrapped his arm around her. “This is my claim to fame. I’m her husband, you know?”

The conversation turned towards his passion for historic Vermont, as he opened up about working to restore old local buildings.
“Vermont’s future lies in the restoration of its past history,” he said. “It’s our past tradition that made us what we are.” He continued to explain his investment in the state, listing the numerous articles he has written in support of protecting various sites. But we soon discovered that where Swenson truly shines is in his unique governmental perspective.

“Every year I go to the Montpelier Capital 4th of July Parade,” he began, his hands in motion. “In fact, last year, at the end of the parade, there was Bernie Sanders just standing around, and I said ‘Bernie, I’ve been waiting ten years for you! When are you going to run for office? I can’t wait around forever! I’m not getting any younger, you know?’ and he said ‘Well, I’m not either.’” Rustin placed his hands on his hips, acting out the conversation for his audience.

“Maybe I’m the reason why he’s running right now. You give me credit for that, okay?” He paused briefly before continuing, “I did run for governor last year. I got 35 votes. I didn’t run to win I just ran to make my point. I ran on the Coffee Party. Forget this Tea Party, I ran on the Coffee Party. Everybody gets a free cup of coffee. You like that, yeah?”

Yeah, we like it. Coffee Party 2016; vote Rustin Swensen.

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