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Bernie Sanders on Principles & Values

Socialist Jr Senator; previously Representative (VT-At-Large)

 


Political revolution: millions of people vs.few billionaires

Q: How would you not be a 3rd term of Pres. Obama?

SANDERS: I believe that the power of corporate America, the power of Wall Street, the power of the drug companies, the power of the corporate media is so great that the only way we really transform America and do the things that the middle class and working class desperately need is through a political revolution when millions of people begin to come together and stand up and say: Our government is going to work for all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.

WEBB: I got a great deal of admiration and affection for Senator Sanders, but Bernie, I don't think the revolution's going to come.

Q: What do you mean by "revolution"?

SANDERS: What I mean is that we need to have one of the larger voter turnouts in the world, not one of the lowest. We need to raise public consciousness. We need the American people to know what's going on in Washington in a way that today they do not know.

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

American people are tired of hearing about Hillary's email

The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we're going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let's talk about the real issues.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

I do not have a Super PAC nor raise money from billionaires

I think that there is profound frustration all over this country with establishment politics. I am the only candidate running for president who is not a billionaire, who has raised substantial sums of money, and I do not have a super PAC. I am not raising money from millionaires and billionaires, and in fact, tonight, in terms of what a political revolution is about, there are 4,000 house parties--100,000 people in this country--watching this debate tonight who want real change in this country.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

Social change cannot occur without mass participation

Q: How will you get Congress to support your agenda? They blocked President Obama on a lot. Your agenda is even further left.

SANDERS: This is what you do. You say to the speaker of the House, "Hey, you don't want to negotiate with me? I think we should make public colleges and universities tuition free. And I think we should pay for a tax on Wall Street speculation." Now, do I think the Republican speaker of the House will agree with me? No, I don't think so. But I think he'll have to look out the window and see a million young people demonstrating and marching in Washington.

Q: Barack Obama said this.

SANDERS: Here's the difference. The president actually thought that he could sit down with the Republican leadership and work out some fair compromises. The truth is, number one, they never had any intention to compromise. But number two, you have to be prepared to mobilize people to take on these big money interests.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interview moderated by Chuck Todd , Oct 11, 2015

I'm not a capitalist; I'm a democratic socialist

Q: You joked that when people call you a socialist, you say, "Yes, I'm going to make everybody wear the same color pajamas." And then the other day you said, "Don't use the word 'Socialist.' I'm going to say I'm a progressive." Are you pushing back on that idea?

SANDERS: No, not at all. When one of your Republican colleagues gets on the show, do you say, "Are you a capitalist?" Have you ever referred to them as capitalists?

Q: Yeah. Are you a capitalist?

SANDERS: No. I'm a democratic socialist.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interview moderated by Chuck Todd , Oct 11, 2015

Abortion & gay marriage secondary to addressing inequality

Q: You went to Liberty University, a fundamentalist Christian university. One of the things you said was that the audience, you knew you had a disagreement on the question of abortion and on same-sex marriage, but you asked them to put those disagreements aside and focus on the priority, which is the inequities in the economic system.

SANDERS: Well, look, I am pro-choice. I am strongly in favor of gay marriage. And I know that, at Liberty University, people there have honest disagreements with me on that issue. But what I said, look, at a time when we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, when almost all of the new income and wealth in this country is going to the top 1 percent, when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on Earth, can we not get together and talk about creating an economy that works for all of us, and not just millionaires and billionaires?

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2015 interview by Bob Schieffer , Sep 27, 2015

Family immigrated from Poland in WWII, escaping Holocaust

Q: Bernie's Jewish?

A: Yes. His father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland, where the Nazis decimated 90% of the Jewish population during the Holocaust. Bernie's father and uncle immigrated to the US and the rest of their family died in Europe. Bernie has said that his Jewish heritage showed him the importance of politics at a young age: "A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important."

Q: Since he's Jewish, is Bernie also Israeli?

A: No. Despite false reports to the contrary, Bernie is only a citizen of the United States.

A: Well, Bernie's Jewish and his family died in the Holocaust. He must support Israel over the Palestinians, right?

A: No. Bernie doesn't "support" Israel over the Palestinians. He believes both have the right to exist, in a two-state solution.

Source: 2016 presidential campaign website FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" , Sep 5, 2015

What's wrong with modeling U.S. on socialist Scandinavia?

Q: Is it really possible for someone who calls himself a socialist to be elected president?

SANDERS: Well, so long as we know what democratic socialism is. And if we know that in countries, in Scandinavia, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, they are very democratic countries, obviously. The voter turnout is a lot higher than it is in the US. In those countries, health care is the right of all people. And in those countries, college education is free. In those countries, retirement benefits, childcare are stronger than in the US.

Q: I can hear the Republican attack ad right now: "He wants American to look more like Scandinavia."

SANDERS: That's right. And what's wrong with that? What's wrong when you have more income and wealth equality? What's wrong when they have a stronger middle class in many ways than we do, higher minimum wage than we do, and they are stronger on the environment? We do a lot in our country, which is good, but we can learn from other countries.

Source: ABC This Week 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 3, 2015

Registered Independent; calls himself a democratic socialist

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is challenging front-runner Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democrat party presidential nomination. Though he is a registered Independent and is proud to call himself a democratic socialist, he will run as a Democrat.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Sanders, 73, spent one year at Brooklyn College, graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964 and then moved to Vermont.

Source: Forbes Magazine "2016 Candidates Want You to Know" series , Apr 30, 2015

Lost campaigns in 1972, 1974 & 1988 before winning in 1990

If At First You Don't Succeed... The CQ Roll Call members database reveals that 18 members of the 113th Congress mounted multiple unsuccessful campaigns before finally winning a seat.
Source: Cong. Quarterly Rollcall mag. on 2014 Vermont Senate race , Mar 20, 2014

My form of democratic socialism is not Communism

Q: You identify as a democratic socialist. Polling suggests that Americans are not so bothered by the term, but that our media has a really hard time with it.

A: In Vermont, people understand exactly what I mean. They don't believe that democratic socialism is akin to North Korea communism. When I talk about democratic socialism, what I'm saying is that I do not want to see the US significantly dominated by a handful of billionaire families controlling the economic & political life of the country. That I do believe that in a democratic, civilized society, all people are entitled to health care as a right, all people are entitled to quality education as a right, all people are entitled to decent jobs and a decent income, and that we need a government which represents ordinary Americans and not just the wealthy and the powerful. Very sadly, the corporate media ignores some of the huge accomplishments that have taken place in Scandinavia, with a long history of democratic socialism.

Source: The Nation 2014 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 6, 2014

Corporate interests fund the Tea Party

I find it beyond comprehension that the Democrats now lose by a significant number the votes of white working-class people. How can that be? It happens because the Democrats have not been strong in taking on corporate America.

The bad news is that people like the Koch brothers can spend huge sums of money to create groups like the Tea Party. The good news is that, once people understand the right-wing extremist ideology of the Koch brothers, they are not going to go along with their policies. In terms of fundamental economic issues: job creation, a high minimum wage, progressive taxation, affordable college--the vast majority of people are on our side.

One of the goals that I would have, politically, is to reach out to the working-class element of the Tea Party & explain to them exactly who is funding their organization--and explain to them that, on virtually every issue, the Koch brothers and the other funders of the Tea Party are way out of step with what ordinary people want and need

Source: The Nation 2014 interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 6, 2014

Voted with Democratic Party 94.1% of 324 votes.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT), was scored by the Washington Post on the percentage of votes on which a lawmaker agrees with the position taken by a majority of his or her party members. The scores do not include missed votes. Their summary:
Voted with Democratic Party 94.1% of 324 votes.
Overall, Democrats voted with their party 88.4% of the time, and Republicans voted with their party 81.7% of the time (votes Jan. 8 through Sept. 8, 2007).
Source: Washington Post, “US Congress Votes Database” , Sep 8, 2007

Current administration has numbed American outrage

The word outrage has lost its meaning! What does outrage mean when we have an administration that took us to war under false premises? What does outrage mean at a time when the United States has the most unfair gap between the rich and the poor of any industrialized nation? What does outrage mean when the White House and the Republican leadership are some of the few people in the entire world who do not understand the profound dangers of global warming?
Source: 2005 Take Back America Conference , Jun 3, 2005

1971: Ran for Vermont Senate seat under Liberty Union Party

Vermont's senior senator, Winston Prouty, had died on September 10, 1971. The small Liberty Union Party was not exactly overflowing with individuals who were interested in running. So, full of enthusiasm for what I believed was right and just, I raised my hand and offered my views on education, the economy, and the war in Vietnam. An hour later, I had won the nomination as the Liberty Union candidate for the open Senate seat. Talk about grassroots democracy.

When I say "won" I am being very overly generous to myself. I was chosen as the candidate unanimously because there was no competition. By day's end, I had embarked on the first political campaign of my life. Despite such inauspicious beginnings, I enjoyed the experience of running for office very much.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p. 15-6 , Jun 17, 1997

Revolution will not start at "progressive bastion" Harvard

In the fall of 1989, I taught at the Institute for Policy Studies at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. They offer a sensible program which brings real-life politicians (not infrequently folks who have lost their last election) to the campus to give students a sense of real-life politics. I taught a course on third-party politics which was well attended. Jane took some courses at the Kennedy School and 2 of our children, Carina and David, attended the local public schools. I went to more football games that fall than I had in 20 years, and became addicted to the cinnamon raisin buns at Au Bon Pain at Harvard Square. I know that conservatives worry a great deal about Harvard. They see it as a bastion of progressive thought, the brain trust for the revolution. Trust me. They can stop worrying. Harvard has many wonderful attributes, but the revolution will not start at Harvard University.
Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p. 83 , Jun 17, 1997

First Independent elected to Congress in 40 years

Our campaign slogan was, "Making History in VT." That's what we were about to do--and everyone knew it. Our support was amazingly strong all over the state, and we carried 13 of VT's 14 counties.

We had come such a long way, against such incredible odds. 20 years before, I had run for statewide office and had received 2% of the vote. As I climbed onto the platform for my victory statement, I was now the congressman-elect from the state of VT, the first Independent elected to Congress in 40 years. It was almost incomprehensible.

There were radio, TV, and newspaper interviews to do all across the country. I was a true novelty: the only Independent in Congress AND a socialist.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p. 88 , Jun 17, 1997

GOP convinces middle class to vote for interests of the rich

There are only so many millionaire voters, and Republicans know that their agenda--the agenda of rich folks and corporate leaders, and what the Republicans are paid to deliver--is not going to win points among middle-class and working people--the people who determine the outcome of elections. Slashing Medicaid and allowing corporations to pollute our drinking water are not the kind of achievements that can be celebrated in 30-second campaign ads for all the world to see.

Their real ideology--not the sham philosophy of "states' rights" or "personal responsibility" created for public consumption--reflects the interests of a tiny and very privileged segment of the population. Republicans are faced with the dilemma: How to convince working people and the middle class to vote AGAINST their own best interests. Or, equally important, how to get them not to vote at all. Further, how to deflect attention AWAY from the issues that affect the vast majority of people and around which they could UNITE.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.128-9 , Jun 17, 1997

Progressive movement fights for social justice

As an Independent, functioning outside the 2-party system, I have worked hard throughout my political career to bring people together into the progressive movement in the fight for social justice.

In 1991, I was the only Independent in Congress, the only person outside the 2-party system. I decided to try to bring together the most progressive members so that we could more effectively fight for economic justice.

We formed the Progressive Caucus. Over the years the group grew slowly and steadily, so that by the time our largest battle took place--against Newt Gingrich and his reactionary "Contract with America"--we were 52 members strong. I was elected chairman of the Caucus in 1991 and have held that position since.

Source: Outsider in the House, by Bernie Sanders, p.152-4 , Jun 17, 1997

Voted YES on confirming of Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. In her opening statement, Judge Sotomayor pledged a "fidelity to the law:"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination; Bill PN506 ; vote number 2009-S262 on Aug 6, 2009

Religious affiliation: Jewish.

Sanders : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH6 on Nov 7, 2000

Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Sanders is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus:

The members of the Progressive Caucus share a common belief in the principles of social and economic justice, non-discrimination, and tolerance in America and in our relationships with other countries. We also seek to embody and give voice to national priorities which reflect the interests and needs of all the American people, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Our purpose is to present thoughtful, positive, practical solutions to the problems confronting America and the world. In the post-Cold War era, we believe our nation’s priorities must change with the times and reflect new realities. Accordingly, we support curbs on wasteful, inefficient government spending at the Pentagon and elsewhere, a more progressive tax system in which wealthier taxpayers and corporations pay their fair share, adequate funding for social programs that are designed to extend help to low and middle-income Americans in need, and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products and encourage the creation of jobs and investment in America.

Source: Congressional Progressive Caucus website 01-CPC0 on Oct 9, 2001

Profiled in "Jews in American Politics".

Sanders is profiled in the book "Jews in American Politics":

When one reads accounts of Jews in American politics, the common theme is that Jews have achieved prominence in art, literature, academia, certain businesses, and entertainment, but not in politics or government. The Jewish politician was the exception, not the rule.

In the last third of the 20th century, however, that pattern changed. By 2000, Jews had become as prominent in the political realm as they have been in other aspects of American life. And Jewish participation is accepted for the contributions these activists make, not because of their Jewishness. Nothing could symbolize this trend more cogently than the nomination of Joseph Lieberman for vice president in 2000 and the national reaction to his candidacy. [Lieberman says]:

Although politics was not exactly a Jewish profession, individual Jews did throw themsleves into the democratic process. Some were traditional politicians; others machine politicians. Many more, such as Emma Goldman and the radicals of the early 20th century, were inspired by the ideal that they had a duty to repair the world—Tikkun Olam.

Many reasons account for the broader representation of Jews in American civic life today. The forces of antisemitism have been relegated to the extreme margins of society, the principle of meritocracy has increasingly opened the doors of opportunity. Moreover, the idealism and purpose that were spawned by the movements for civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, environmentalism, and other causes drew many Jewish Americans into the political arena. Jews are admonished tp help perfect the world by the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Tarfon, who tells us, “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdaw from it.”

[This book] provides brief biographical sketches for more than 400 Jews who have played prominent roles in American political life. The roster provides much of the basic information that we felt was previously lacking in one place.
Source: Jews in American Politics, Sandy Maisels, ed., pp. xii-xxiii 01-JIAP0 on Jan 1, 2001

Rated 83% by the AU, indicating support of church-state separation.

Sanders scores 83% by the AU on church-state separation

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 AU scores as follows:

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Americans United is a national organization with members in all 50 states. We are headquartered in Washington, D.C., and led by the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director. AU has more than 75,000 members from all over the country. They include people from all walks of life and from various faith communities, as well as those who profess no particular faith. We are funded by donations from our members and others who support church-state separation. We do not seek, nor would we accept, government funding.

Source: AU website 06n-AU on Dec 31, 2006

Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Sanders is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus:

The members of the Progressive Caucus share a common belief in the principles of social and economic justice, non-discrimination, and tolerance in America and in our relationships with other countries. We also seek to embody and give voice to national priorities which reflect the interests and needs of all the American people, not just the wealthy and the powerful. Our purpose is to present thoughtful, positive, practical solutions to the problems confronting America and the world. In the post-Cold War era, we believe our nation’s priorities must change with the times and reflect new realities. Accordingly, we support curbs on wasteful, inefficient government spending at the Pentagon and elsewhere, a more progressive tax system in which wealthier taxpayers and corporations pay their fair share, adequate funding for social programs that are designed to extend help to low and middle-income Americans in need, and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products and encourage the creation of jobs and investment in America.

Source: Congressional Progressive Caucus website 07-CPC0 on Nov 6, 2007

Rated 0% by the AU, indicating support of separation of church & state.

Sanders scores 0% Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (supports separation of church & state) to 100% (opposed to separation of church & state).

About the AU (from their website, www.au.org):Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a religious liberty watchdog group. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom. AU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.

Source: AU.org 14_AU on Jan 1, 2013

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