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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is currently the junior senator from the State of Vermont. He is serving as an Independent. He is running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in the 2020 primary election. Sanders ran for President in 2016 but was defeated by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary. Prior to being elected to the U.S. Senate, Sanders served as Vermont’s only member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sanders was also the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont before being elected to Congress.

Sanders is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He attended Brooklyn College and later graduated from the University of Chicago. He is a self-described “Democratic-Socialist” and supports progressive policy proposals such as Medicare For All, free college tuition, and income redistribution.

Personal Life

Bernie Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a Polish immigrant. His mother was a first generation Polish and Russian Jewish American. Sanders attended Hebrew school in his early years, then attended James Madison Public High School in Brooklyn. In high school, he was captain of the track team.

Sanders started college in 1959 at Brooklyn College in New York. After one year, he transferred to the University of Chicago.

While attending the University of Chicago, Sanders was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League. He was also an active participant in the civil rights movement. In 1962, he attended a protest against the university’s segregated dorm policy. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964 with a degree in political science.

After graduation, Sanders moved back to Brooklyn. In the few years immediately after returning home, he worked as a Head Start teacher, a psychiatric aide, and a carpenter. In 1968, he moved to Vermont. He continued his work as a carpenter and also took up filmmaking and writing.

Sanders unsuccessfully ran for governor of Vermont and the U.S. Senate in 1971 and 1972, respectively, as a candidate from the Liberty Union Party.  

In 1981, as an Independent candidate, he successfully ran for mayor of Burlington and held the office for eight years.

Sanders would eventually go on to win election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, and then the U.S. Senate in 2006. He is currently serving as the U.S. senator from Vermont.

Sanders’ net worth is estimated to be as high as $2 million. This includes income from his congressional salary and millions of dollars of income from various book royalties. Fortune Magazine called Sanders “the Six-Figure Socialist” and noted that he is currently among the top four percent of earners in the United States. Sanders owns three different homes including a four-bedroom lake house on the shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont.

Political and Professional Background

Sanders began his political career when he was elected mayor of Burlington in 1981. He won his first mayoral election by only 10 votes. Sanders went on to win re-election as mayor in 1983, 1985, and 1987 with comfortable margins of victory.

Sanders was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 with 56 percent of the vote. He was Vermont’s at-large Congressman, representing the entire state. He served in the House until he decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2006.

In April 2005, Sanders announced his campaign for U.S. Senate. He notably received the endorsements of Senator Chuck Schumer, the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).  

In the primary, he won the Democratic nomination but did not accept it. He defeated Republican Richard Tarrant in the general election. Sanders won re-election to the Senate in 2012 and 2018.

While Sanders is officially an Independent, he has caucused with Democrats throughout his congressional career.

He is best known in Congress for his support for single-payer healthcare and banking reform as well as opposition to Citizens United v. FEC.

Sanders unsuccessfully ran for president in the 2016 Democratic primary when he was defeated by Hillary Clinton. Sanders secured 43 percent of the primary vote and won 23 of the primary states/territories.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Sanders won 1,894 delegates while Clinton won 2,807 delegates. Sanders endorsed Clinton in the general election.

In 2019 Sanders officially announced his 2020 campaign for president of the United States, running as a Democrat.

On the Issues

Universal Healthcare

Sanders is a strong supporter of a universal healthcare system. Sanders once said, “if you are serious about real healthcare reform, the only way to go is single-payer.” Sanders considers healthcare a human right and proposed a Medicare For All bill in Congress.

In April 2019, Sanders proposed a new Medicare For All bill in Congress. According to CNBC, this new proposal would “effectively end the private health insurance market.”

Wealth Distribution

Sanders has opposed the Trump administration’s federal budgets and tax cuts, calling the proposals a “transfer of wealth” from the working class to the top one percent. Sanders believes income inequality is a major issue and that too much wealth is concentrated among a small percentage of Americans, resulting in a smaller middle class.

Free College Tuition

Sanders supports a free college tuition plan. He introduced the College For All Act which calls for making all public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with a combined income under $125,000 per year.

Sanders argues that a more competitive job market requires an equal opportunity to receive a college education without assuming student loan debt. Sanders’ plan was estimated at costing $47 billion per year.

Foreign Policy

Sanders generally opposes military intervention and instead calls for the use of diplomacy and international institutions to resolve international issues. He notably opposed the Iraq War and has repeatedly called for a reduction in military spending. The Atlantic described Sanders’ positions on foreign policy as a “second phase assault on American Exceptionalism.”

Green New Deal

Sanders has endorsed the Green New Deal. Sanders has stated he believes in science-based climate change and has used the issue to fundraise for his presidential campaign. While responding to a question on whether or not the Green New Deal was too radical, Sanders said, “you cannot go too far on the issue of climate change.” Sanders opposed the Senate vote on the Green New Deal resolution, calling it the vote “political games.”

Gun Control and Second Amendment Rights

Sanders has received criticism from Democrats for voting against a 1993 piece of legislation that would have established stricter background checks for gun sales. In 2003 and 2005, he voted in favor of legislation that protected gun manufacturers from lawsuits if their products are used in crimes.

In recent years, Sanders has moved more to the left rhetorically, on gun control, following mass shootings in Parkland, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina. Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager called him “very moderate” on the issue of guns.

Must Reads

Bloomberg: New Millionaire Bernie Sanders Prepares to Reveal His Income

Washington Post: Bernie Sanders says he’ll release 10 years of his tax returns by Monday

The New York Times: Sexism Claims From Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Run: Paid Less, Treated Worse

CNBC: Bernie Sanders apologizes to women who were sexually harassed while working for his 2016 presidential campaign

Townhall: Oh My: Bernie Sanders Says He Was Too Busy To Address Sexual Harassment Claims Infesting His 2016 Campaign

Fox News: Bernie Sanders unveils Medicare for All proposal, suggests role of health care insurers would be reduced to ‘nose jobs’

The Washington Examiner: Bernie Sanders: Democratic Party’s platform has been a ‘failure’ for the past 15 years

Politico: Bernie Sanders calls DNC’s Perez’s endorsement of Cuomo a mistake

The Daily Caller: Bernie Sanders Claims He Doesn’t ‘Recall’ Flip-Flopping On Government Shutdown

Updated on April 26, 2019

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