Socialism, for many years seen as a dirty word in American politics, is today seeing a massive spike in interest among younger sections of the U.S. population. Much of this interest can be attributed to the work and campaigning of one man: Bernie Sanders.
Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York to a Jewish family of Polish descent, Bernie Sanders graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Chicago. On finishing his studies, his work as a freelance journalist and anti-Vietnam War activist led to a burgeoning interest in politics. He ran several times as an independent for the governorship of the State of Vermont and for the Senate, failing on each occasion.
In 1990, Sanders was elected to the House of Representatives on a ticket that he described as being full of democratic socialist policies. He served in this position until 2006, being re-elected six times and making a name for himself by voting against U.S. intervention in Iraq, opposing tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals and endorsing social welfare programs.
Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006 by a wide margin. He has been an outspoken proponent of climate issues, renewable energy and veterans’ affairs as well as registering significant opposition to Republican policies of tax reduction and the erosion of social welfare.
On June 13 this year, Sanders stated his belief that Americans would be “delighted to pay higher taxes” if it meant free health care and education. This statement came as part of what Sanders called an “Economic Bill of Rights”, which formed the backbone of the progressive manifesto that he hoped would see him win a tight race to become the Democratic nominee for the presidential elections later this year. Sanders eventually lost out to ex-Vice President, Joe Biden, who he subsequently endorsed.