Bernie Sanders is an independent Vermont senator who has created a firestorm amongst Democrats, helping to lead the party's shift to the left. Despite losing the Democratic nomination for president to Hillary Clinton in 2016, Sanders remains popular with voters as he continues to espouse key democratic socialist policies on the main stage of American politics.
Key facts about Sanders
- Current position: Senator from Vermont — 12 years served
- Age: 77
- Born: Brooklyn, New York
- Undergraduate: Brooklyn College, University of Chicago
- Date candidacy announced: Feb. 19, 2019
- % of votes in line with Trump, per FiveThirtyEight: 14.4%
- Previous roles: House Representative for Vermont's at-large congressional district, Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
Sanders' stance on key issues:
- Medicare For All: Sanders spearheaded a sweeping Medicare for All plan, which he introduced in 2017.
- Green New Deal: Sanders is a co-sponsor of the bill and has spoken consistently about the severity of climate change.
- Taxes: Sanders has long said he supports raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He recently proposed hiking estate taxes for millionaires and billionaires, including a top rate of 77% for estates over $1 billion.
- Minimum wage: Sanders co-sponsored a bill in April 2017 that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15. In September 2018, he introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act, which would tax companies for public benefits their workers accessed.
- Voting rights: Says felons should be allowed to vote while in prison.
- College tuition: A key point of Sanders' 2016 presidential run was his proposal to make college tuition free and debt free.
- Marijuana: He co-sponsored fellow 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker's recently reintroduced Marijuana Justice Act, that would legalize marijuana on the federal level.
Key criticisms of Sanders
- Socialism: That he's too far left. Or that the party has moved past him and he is no longer the only potential candidate who can carry the "progressive" label.
- Campaign staff sexual misconduct: Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign was plagued by patterns of sexism and inappropriate behavior among members.
- Age: A recent poll found 43 of Iowa's 76 Democratic county party leaders say they want a young candidate to be their nominee for president in 2020.
- Lack of loyalty: Despite running for president as a Democrat in 2016, Sanders has always identified as an independent and has said he won't join the party.
- Pragmatism: Many of Sanders' proposals would need high levels of government spending, creating questions about how feasible some of them actually are.
1 fun thing about Bernie
- While serving as mayor of Burlington, he recorded a folk album — titled "We Shall Overcome" — with 30 Vermont musicians.
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