Who Is Bernie Sanders?

Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent democratic socialist from Vermont, almost became the Democratic Party's nominee for president. Twice.

The unlikely catalyst of a resurgent American left, Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist and one of the longest-serving independent politicians in United States history, began his career in 1981 as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

He won that election by 10 votes.

To the surprise of many, Mayor Sanders was effective in office, working with the Burlington business community to redevelop the Lake Champlain waterfront, and siding with factory workers when antiwar protestors blocked a General Electric plant producing weapons that were sent to Central America. 

Elected to Congress in 1990, Representative Sanders served for 16 years before a successful run for Senate in 2006. And although Senator Sanders wasn’t able to advance his transformational policy, he made some unusual allies, like Senator John McCain, with whom Sanders would produce a compromise reform of Veterans Affairs hospitals.   

But you might not have heard of Bernie Sanders until he challenged Hillary Clinton for the democratic nomination for president in 2016. 

Sanders' insurgent campaign is credited with generating grassroots enthusiasm for policies like Medicare for All in the United States, and pushing the Democratic Party to incorporate substantive progressive ideas into its platform. Former Sanders organizers include influential politicians like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sanders-inspired candidates are on the ballot across the United States.

Forty years later, Bernie Sanders is still talking about many of the issues he ran on in the early 1980s. Although he would mount a second unsuccessful campaign for president in 2020, there is no question that Bernie Sanders has brought progressive change to the Democratic Party. 

Who Is Senator Bernie Sanders? Join Sean Morrow, as he dives into the man whose groundbreaking politics reshaped the future of the Democratic Party and progressive politics in the United States.


"Who Is?," an original podcast hosted by NowThis correspondent Sean Morrow, explores the stories of well-known, powerful politicians in the United States and beyond.

Over the course of sixteen episodes, Season One focused on top leaders in Washington, Trump’s inner circle, the field of presidential hopefuls, and major political donors. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Next up? Season Two.  

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