junior United States Senator from Vermont.
Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history. A self-described democratic socialist, he favors policies similar to those of social democratic parties in Europe, particularly those instituted by the Nordic countries. He caucuses with the Democratic Party and has been the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee since January 2015.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders attended Brooklyn College before transferring to and graduating from the University of Chicago. While a student, he was a member of the Young People's Socialist League and active in the Civil Rights Movement as a protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963, he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Sanders settled in Vermont in 1968, and ran unsuccessfully for Governor and U.S. Senator in the early to mid-1970s as a member of the Liberty Union Party. As an independent, Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington,
Vermont's most populous city, in 1981. He was reelected to three more
two-year mayoral terms before being elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the United States House of Representatives in 1990. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to succeed the retiring Republican-turned-independent Jim Jeffords in the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected by a large margin, capturing almost 71% of the popular vote.
Since his election to the Senate, Sanders has emerged as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform. He rose to national prominence on the heels of his 2010 filibuster of the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy. Sanders is also outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties, and has been particularly critical of mass surveillance policies such as the USA PATRIOT Act, as well as racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. He has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy, and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War.
Sanders is a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential contest.