There are only a few sure things in this world: death, taxes, and Democratic politicians dominating the Grammys.
The 2018 Grammy Award nominations were released today, and among the usual contenders like Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, and Lady Gaga, is one curious selection: US senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The senator was nominated for the audio version of his book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, narrated by himself and actor Mark Ruffalo.
Joining Sanders in the best spoken word album category is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, rock legend Bruce Springsteen, songwriter Shelly Peiken, and late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher.
With his first nomination, Sanders now has more official Grammy nominations than the following musical artists: The Who, Janis Joplin, Talking Heads, The Strokes, The Kinks, One Direction, and Spice Girls. Take that, and Harry Styles.
Here’s the gravelly Brooklyn voice that earned Sanders a nomination this year:
While it may seem odd, American politicians from the Democratic party have long been featured at the Grammys. (For the purposes of this piece, we are calling Sanders, a self-proclaimed independent who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, a Democrat.) They tend to write a lot of books (both while in office and after they leave it), which then become best-sellers. The spoken word category can also include speeches, dramatic readings, poetry, and comedy, but audiobooks are the most frequent winners.
More than 10 famous Democrats have been nominated for the best spoken word category, including:
- Barack Obama (two-time winner)
- Michelle Obama
- Hillary Clinton (one-time winner)
- Bill Clinton (one-time winner)
- Elizabeth Warren
- Al Gore
- Jimmy Carter (two-time winner)
- Jesse Jackson
- Sam Ervin
- Adlai Stevenson
- Harry Truman
- John F. Kennedy
Republicans have not fared nearly as well. Only Everett Dirksen, the US senate minority leader for most of the 1960s, has represented the Republican party at music’s biggest night. Former Arkansas governor and rock bassist Mike Huckabee is still awaiting his first Grammy nomination.
Though Sanders wasn’t nominated for anything remotely musical, he’s no stranger to music production. In 1987, Sanders, then mayor of Burlington, Vermont, recorded a folk album with more than 30 collaborators: