2020 Presidential Candidate: Bernie Sanders


Bernie Sanders has served as a Vermont Senator since 2007. Sanders is a strong advocate of free public schooling for all Americans, Medicare for All, economic reforms toward equality and policies to combat climate change.

Oliver Fox, Opinions Editor

Bernie Sanders is an Independent United States Senator from Vermont, serving in that position since 2007. Sanders previously served as an Independent member of the United States House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007, making him the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history. In 2016, Sanders lost a primary bid for president to Hillary Clinton.

Despite his official affiliation as an Independent, Sanders caucuses with Democrats in Congress and is running for president as a Democrat. Sanders is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist and has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, some claiming that he is overly idealistic and a fossil of government in Washington. However, Sanders’ impact on the Democratic Party has been profound. 

Sanders’ passion to reduce income inequality in America has earned him fame as a politician; many of his economic stances have been embraced by fellow 2020 Democratic candidates. Sanders has stressed throughout his career that the minimum wage in the United States must be raised to 15 dollars per hour, a stance adopted by many top Democrats for the 2020 election. Sanders is also an adamant supporter of unions, claiming the U.S. Government should make it easier for working Americans to join them. 

Sanders also supports immediate and widespread action to combat climate change. Sanders claims that the only way to tackle climate change is to pass a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. policy towards it, such as a Green New Deal. Within this program, Sanders would work to create jobs in green energy including wind, solar and hydro power. 

In addition to innovation, Sanders supports developing infrastructure to adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change. Sanders has also pledged to ban fracking and new development of fossil fuel infrastructure, as well as ending all U.S. exports of crude oil, natural gas and coal. 

One of Sanders’ most controversial positions is his pledge to end private health insurance and move all Americans to Medicare. While publicly ambiguous on the logistics of implementing this change, Sanders is committed to ending what he believes is wholesale exploitation of American citizens by health care providers and pharmaceutical companies. The question of Medicare For All versus a choice-based system is a fundamental disagreement among Democrats, one that Sanders has been a major force in creating.

On education, Sanders holds one of the most progressive plans among 2020 candidates. He intends to make public trade schools, colleges and universities free for all Americans, eliminating any financial reason for kids not to pursue higher education after high school. Sanders also plans to cancel all 1.6 trillion dollars of existing student debt, which currently affects 45 million Americans. 

Sanders’ various educational plans have been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans as being overly-ambitious and even unrealistic. Many have claimed that such an undertaking would require massive increases in taxes on all Americans, which some have said would counteract Sanders’ economic reforms to combat inequality. However, many believe that this ambitious overhaul of the American education system is necessary to ensure that the next generation of Americans is not plagued with crushing debt.