Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is the junior United States Senator from Vermont. Previously, Sanders represented Vermont's at-large district in the United States House of Representatives. Sanders also served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist, and has praised European social democracy. He is the first person elected to the U.S. Senate to identify as a socialist. Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments, but because he does not belong to a formal political party, he appears as an independent on the ballot. He was also the only independent member of the House during much of his service there.
Bernie Sanders, the son of Jewish Polish immigrants to the United States, was born in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn and later attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a B.A. in political science in 1964. After graduating from college, Sanders spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, an experience which shaped his political views.
In 1964, Sanders moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, writer and researcher, among other jobs.
Sanders's political career began in 1971, when he joined the anti-Vietnam War Liberty Union Party in Vermont. Sanders was an unsuccessful Liberty Union candidate for election to the Senate in 1972 and 1974, as well as for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976. In his initial campaign, Sanders received only 2% of the vote, but his subsequent races for Senate and Governor were slightly more successful, his highest vote tally being 6%.
He has served as:
- Mayor of Burlington (1981–1989)
- Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont's At-large district (1991-2007)
- United States Senator from Vermont (2007-present)
U.S. Senator from Vermont
Bernie Sanders is only the third Senator from Vermont to caucus with the Democrats — following Jeffords and Patrick Leahy.
Sanders and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 on January 15, 2007. The measure would have provided funding for research and development on geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, established energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities, and would have required periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate. On September 24, 2008, Senator Sanders posted on his website a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson against the initial bailout proposal, drawing more than 8,000 citizen co-signers in the first 24 hours. On January 26, 2009, Sanders and Democrats Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold and Tom Harkin were the sole majority members to vote against confirmation of Timothy Geithner to be United States Secretary of the Treasury. On December 10, 2010, Senator Sanders delivered an 8½ hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates that eventually became law. In response to his "filibuster," "activists across the country started talking up the notion of a 'Sanders for President' run in 2012, either as a dissident Democrat in the primaries or as a left-leaning Independent." Hundreds of people signed online petitions urging Sanders to run, and pollsters began measuring his support in key primary states. Progressive activists such as Rabbi Michael Lerner and economist David Korten publicly voiced their support for a prospective Sanders run against president Barack Obama. Sanders has disclaimed any interest in a presidential run, saying he was "very proud to be Vermont's senator," and maintained that "I am very content to be where I am, but I am flattered by that kind of response." On January 19, 2011, Sanders announced that his 8 1/2 hour speech given on December 10, 2010 would be published in February 2011 by Nation Books. The book is entitled The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class and authorial proceeds go to Vermont charitable, nonprofit organizations. Following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, Sanders has called for a moratorium on the licensing of new nuclear plants and relicensing of existing ones, in an effort to slow down what's been touted as a nuclear renaissance in the United States.
Bernie Sanders is married to Jane O'Meara, president of Burlington College, and has one son, Levi Sanders, from a previous marriage. His brother, Larry Sanders, is a Green Party District Councillor for Oxford East in Oxfordshire, England.
His nephew, Jacob, is a former Oxford city councillor for the Green Party. Sanders is one of two sitting U.S. Senators who went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn (the other being Chuck Schumer). Before becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Sanders's roommate was Richard I. Sugarman, a professor at the University of Vermont. Coincidentally, the only other Independent currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) shared a suite with Professor Sugarman when the two attended Yale University in the 1960s. For the Friday segment "Brunch with Bernie" of the Thom Hartmann radio program, Hartmann interviews Sanders, and the senator answers listeners' calls.
August 8th, 2011