Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Vermont. A Democrat as of 2015, he had been the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history. Sanders has been the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee since January 2015. He is a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Sanders was born and raised in the borough of Brooklyn, in New York City. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student, Sanders was a member of the Young People's Socialist League and an active civil rights protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963, he participated in
After settling in Vermont in 1968, Sanders ran unsuccessful third-party campaigns for governor and U.S. senator in the early to mid-1970s. As an independent, he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont's most populous city, in 1981. He was reelected three times. In 1990, he was elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1991, Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected by a large margin, capturing almost 71% of the popular vote.
Sanders has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy, and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War. He rose to national prominence following his 2010 filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts. Sanders favors policies similar to those of social democratic parties in Europe, particularly those instituted by the Nordic countries. He is a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform. He is also outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties, and has been particularly critical of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and mass surveillance policies such as the USA PATRIOT Act and the NSA surveillance programs.
Bernie Sanders focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality, raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare, reducing the burden of student debt, making public colleges and universities tuition-free by taxing financial transactions, and expanding Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all income above $250,000. Sanders has become a prominent supporter of laws requiring companies to provide their workers parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by almost every developed country. He also supports legislation that would make it easier for workers to join or form a union. Sanders advocates bold action to reverse global warming and substantial investment in infrastructure, with “energy efficiency and sustainability” and job creation as prominent goals. He is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Sanders has advocated for more democratic participation by citizens, campaign finance reform, and the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC. He has denounced institutional racism and called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison, advocates a crackdown on police brutality, and supports abolishing private, for-profit prisons and the death penalty. Sanders supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level. He is also an advocate of comprehensive financial reforms and favors breaking up “too big to fail” financial institutions, restoring Glass–Steagall Legislation and reforming the Federal Reserve Bank. Sanders was a strong opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has been critical of a number of policies instituted during the War on Terror, particularly mass surveillance and the USA PATRIOT Act. He takes a liberal approach to social issues, advocating for LGBT rights and lobbying against the Defense of Marriage Act and maintaining a pro-choice stance on abortion, as well as opposing the defunding of Planned Parenthood.
On November 15, 2015, in response to ISIS' attacks in Paris, Sanders cautioned against "Islamophobia" and said, "We gotta be tough, not stupid," in the war against ISIS, and that the U.S. should continue to welcome Syrian refugees.