Bernie Sanders is a high-profile U.S. politician who has served as a U.S. Senator from Vermont. In recent years, he has attracted a staunch following among younger sections of the electorate for his progressive stance on social and economic issues. If you have been paying attention to politics recently, it is likely that you will be well aware of his existence, but who is Bernie Sanders and what does he stand for? We put together this short biography to give you the lowdown on one of the most divisive politicians in America.
Background and Education
Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941 to Jewish parents of Polish descent. Having struggled financially during his youth, an experience that proved to have a formative impact on his later politics, his parents were able to send him to study at the University of Chicago, where he became involved in the civil rights movement. After graduating with a degree in political science, Sanders spend time living on a kibbutz in Israel.
Having returned to the States, Sanders moved to Vermont, where he spent time as a carpenter and freelance journalist. He made a name for himself as an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and engaged in other activist activities. In 1981, Sanders narrowly won election to become the mayor of Burlington, where he lived.
So, what religion is Bernie Sanders? Despite his Jewish upbringing, Sanders claims to have drifted away from Jewish customs and has spent most of his life without religious affiliation.
Election to House of Representatives and later to the Senate
After three failed campaigns to become governor of Vermont, two failed attempts to join the Senate and one failed bid for election to the House of Representatives, Sanders was finally elected as a Congressman in 1990. During his time in Congress, Sanders became known for his liberal politics and progressive stance on tax reform, welfare and civil rights. He won reelection seven times.
Sanders won election to the Senate in 2006 by a wide margin. As a member of the Democratic Party, Sanders opposed tax cuts, voted against U.S. involvement in the Iraq war and lent his support to bills and amendments concerned with climate change and renewable energy.
Bernie Sanders has contested the U.S. presidential race on two occasions. In 2016, he was beaten to the candidacy by Hillary Clinton, and in 2020, he lost out to ex-Vice President Joe Biden. On both occasions, he campaigned on a manifesto that was built upon a foundation of democratic socialist policies such as tax increases on the wealthy, universal health care, and free tuition at public universities and colleges. These policies gained Sanders a cult following among younger voters but were roundly criticized by many conservative politicians and pundits as being unrealistic and impracticable.
Sanders has gone on record as saying there is a “very, very slim” chance that he will run for president again in 2024