Bernie Sanders: The 7 Issues Guide

The Jazz Foundation of America's 17th Annual 'A Great Night In Harlem' Gala Concert, Arrivals, The Apollo Theater, New York, USA - 04 Apr 2019

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

There is a big field of candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2020. The candidates each bring their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these guides serve as a helpful starting point for you as you look into which candidates (or how many candidates!) you are interested in supporting in their bid to become our next President.

Today, let’s get to know Bernie Sanders. 


Career Highlights

✦ Current U.S. Senator (Independent-Vermont), 2007-present
✦ Former U.S. Representative (Vermont-at large), 1991-2007
✦ Former Mayor of Burlington, 1981-1989



Medicare for All: “Sanders proposes a government-run health care system for all Americans. He was the lead Senate sponsor of the 2017 “Medicare For All” bill, which would launch universal health care and end employer-provided health insurance. … Sanders would fund the plan through multiple sources: a 6.2 percent charge on employers, a 2.2 percent fee on most families, increased marginal tax rates for incomes $250,000 and higher, increased taxes on capital gains, and a larger estate tax for the wealthiest.” Source

Pro-Choice: “Sanders is a supporter of abortion rights and voted against a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. When asked in 2016 if he would place any limits on abortions, Sanders did not give a specific answer but repeatedly said he was “very strongly pro-choice” and believed the decision was between a woman and her doctor.” Source

Prescription Drugs: “The Vermont senator has also joined Democratic leaders in introducing legislation to slash drug costs, in part by encouraging imports of cheaper drugs from abroad and giving Medicare more power to negotiate prices.” Source

Mental Health: “We have a mental health crisis in this country and many mentally ill people are ending up in jail because there is no place else for them to go. And we’ve made a bad situation even worse by cutting back on programs and support systems that mentally ill people need to survive.” Source 


Climate Change

Paris Climate Accord: While Sanders was initially critical that the Paris Climate Accord didn’t go far enough (Source), he opposed Trump pulling out of the accord: “Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement would be a horrific mistake. This extraordinary crisis calls out for international cooperation.” Source 

Green New Deal: Sanders supports the Green New Deal, and is a co-sponsor of the resolution. Source 

Carbon Tax: “Sanders would institute a carbon tax and aim to slash U.S. emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. He would end all federal subsidies for the gas, oil and coal industries.” Source 

Environmental Record: Sanders has a 92% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, based on his voting record in Congress. Source 


Civil Rights

LGBTQ Rights: “On LGBTQ rights, Sanders has touted his early moves in support of the gay rights movement. In 1983, as mayor of Burlington, he approved a resolution declaring “Gay Rights Day;” in 1993, he opposed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy; and in 2000 he supported gay civil unions in Vermont.” Source

Marriage Equality: “He was one of just 67 members in the House of Representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, a politically tough decision he prides himself on and points to as a key progressive bona fide.” Source

Transgender Rights: “He opposes President Donald Trump’s push to ban transgender people from the military, and laws that would block transgender people from using the bathrooms of their choice.” Source

Disability Rights: “In the year 2015, it is unacceptable that over 80 percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed. People need work. They need jobs.” Source

Criminal Justice Reform: Sanders was “an early critic of mass incarceration and punitive criminal justice policies.” Source


Gun Reform

Gun Reform/Gun Violence: “Gun violence is an epidemic in this country that must end. Our job: take on the NRA, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons.” Source 

Assault Weapons: “A gun-control advocate, Sanders would ban assault weapons as well as high-capacity magazines or equipment that allow more than ten rounds to be fired at once.” Source

Background Checks: “He supports universal background checks and voted for the Manchin-Toomey legislation expanding federal background checks.” Source

Revised Stance on Litigation: “In early 2016, Sanders changed his position on a gun law that protects some gun manufacturers and sellers from civil lawsuits. Sanders supported the measure in 2005 while he was serving in the House of Representatives. In 2016, he co-sponsored a bill to repeal that law.” Source

Arming Teachers: “Arming teachers is not the answer to our country’s gun epidemic.” Source


Voting Rights

Voter ID: “Voter ID laws aren’t really intended to discourage fraud, they’re intended to discourage voting.” Source

Felony Voting Disenfranchisement: “Says felons should be allowed to vote while in prison.” Source 

Restoring the Voting Rights Act: “We must demand that Congress restore the Voting Rights Act to protect minority voters from being disenfranchised and discriminated against in states and counties that have a pattern of doing just that.” Source 

Expanding Voting Rights: “We must insist that the Voting Rights Act be expanded in scope so that no American, regardless of skin color or national origin or age, is prevented from voting freely, without hindrance from local authorities. We must make Election Day a national holiday, register all eligible voters automatically and put an end to discriminatory laws and voter roll purging.” Source 


Economic Inequality

Taxes: “To address growing wealth inequality, Sanders wants to expand the estate tax. A plan proposed in January would tax estates starting at $3.5 million, with a 77 percent rate on billionaire estates.” Source 

Minimum Wage: Sanders supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. Source 

Equal Pay: “We must follow the example of our brothers and sisters in Iceland and demand equal pay for equal work now, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality.” Source

Paid Family Leave: “He also has made paid family and medical leave a part of his campaign and has supported the Family Act, which would increase payroll taxes in order to fund the leave.” Source

Jobs: “Sanders wants to create jobs by investing heavily in new infrastructure projects that he says will create 13 million jobs over the course of five years. His “Rebuild America Act” would put that money into roads, bridges, water treatment systems, railways and airport projects – and comes with a $1 trillion price tag.” Source


Foreign Affairs

Russia: “We want to do everything we can to ease tensions with Russia. But caving in to Putin and denying the very, very significant involvement of Russia in trying to undermine American elections in 2016 – and they are continuing efforts – is absurd.” Source

North Korea: “I mean, you talk about sitting down with Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Is that a good thing? You know what? It is a good thing. But what is not a good thing is praising this vicious and cruel leader and calling him a great patriot. He is not.” Source

Syria: “Sanders would pull U.S. troops from Syria, but said he would do it in a different, less “erratic” way than Trump recently announced. He believes diplomacy with Russia and Iran can turn things around in Syria.” Source

China: “I strongly support imposing stiff penalties on countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to prevent them from illegally dumping steel and aluminum into the U.S. and throughout the world.” Source

Iran: “Sanders back[ed] President Obama’s negotiations with Iran and sharply criticized Republican senators who signed a letter warning Iran against a potential deal.” Source

Saudi Arabia: “Sanders would end all U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and was a main co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate to force the Pentagon to end its involvement there. In a tweet, Sanders wrote that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has murdered activists, heads a despotic regime and should be held accountable.” Source


Legislative Record (includes enacted legislation & bills sponsored): Bernie Sanders

Campaign website: Bernie Sanders


Check out all of our 7 Issues Guides: Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, John Delaney, Joe Biden, Eric Swalwell


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6 replies

  1. There’s not much I can disagree with as far as Bernie’s stances on issues. I just don’t know if America will elect a 79 year-old(when or if sworn in) self-described Democratic-Socialist. If he’s the nominee though, he’s got my vote.

    • Agreed – it is sad that even those who benefit from all the “Socialised” services that the US provides, are either unaware of it , or accept the cognitive dissonance in justifying rejection of new services whilst demanding and embracing existing ones.

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Today I bring you the 11th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Bernie Sanders is on deck today. Bernie has been one of two Senators from Vermont since 2007, and was a candidate for the democratic nomination in 2016. I like Bernie, he has some good ideas and his focus is on humanitarian issues. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Sanders!

  3. Be interesting to see you do a comparison of all the candidates, when this series is done, to the main differences on some issues between them. A side by side kinda post to make it concise for the reader. I am saving all of these, but a comparison would be nice.
    I look forward to the debates, but I would vote for ANY of them against trump. I want our nation to survive intact.

    • I’ve been mulling over how to compare them side by side when I’m done. I’m going to have to pair up with someone who can do graphics…

  4. Thank you for your summaries on the various candidates.

    Bernie appeals because he is authentic speaking hard truths. Yet, he and other Dems need to recognize we have to pay for things. We have $22 trillion in debt and a near $1 trillion annual deficit. The GOP has discarded any appearance of fiscal stewardship, but both parties are to blame. Just as we cannot solve this problem by only raising taxes, we cannot solve this problem by making only spending cuts – we must do both so says nonpartisan groups The Concord Coalition and Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

    Dems would be wise to recognize this problem and speak openly about in terms of their policies – free tuition is too altruistic, but limited tuition help up to a certain amount is not, eg. Medicare for All is worth considering, but needs a thorough cost/ benefit analysis and other variations may be more affordable.

    The Green New Deal is great start, but we need nonpartisan analysis and debate. As I tell my GOP friends, is it crazier to set forth a bold plan or deny one of the greatest threats the planet faces is being enabled by humans? Senator Marco Rubio criticized AOC, but his state is surrounded on three sides by water and the Miami area and three other counties are spending $200 billion to fight rising sea level. It should be noted that is where Rubio lives.


    For what it’s worth, I am an Independent voter, having been a member of both parties. Keith

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