Mural in Vermont by Jules Muck

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Who is Bernie Sanders, the socialist who somehow interrupted the otherwise inevitable trajectory of Hillary Clinton to the presidency? The answer is written across the state where he rose to prominence. Vermont might be known for its hippie ice cream pioneers and sustainable farmers (“Bernie Sanders is a human Birkenstock!” Hillary Clinton yelled in a Saturday Night Live skit in December), but Vermont and its politics don't fit into a typical American box, with mostly rural residents who harbor many of the same small-government inclinations of their red-state counterparts.

Los Angeles-based photographer Elijah Hurwitz traveled Vermont to get at the essence of Bernie by uncovering the people and places that helped shape his story. “I found Vermonters to care more about issues and results than party affiliation,” Hurwitz says. Bernie Sanders saw that, too: When he started his political career there in the 70s, for instance, he pushed to unionize workers but stayed away from environmental or gun control issues that might hurt the livelihoods of the state's loggers, hunters and farmers.

Over more than 40 years, Sanders' deeply personal politics have transformed him into a well-known character everywhere from neighbors’ dairy farms to nightclubs. Their memories conjure the same Bernie we see on a national stage today, drawing together unlikely coalitions and energizing a base that is upsetting the best-laid plans of a woman who was thought to be the Democratic front-runner years before 2016.

Above, a large painted mural of Bernie Sanders on a barn in the rural Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. The mural is the work of Jules Muck, a street artist based in Venice, California.

Elijah Solomon Hurwitz

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