Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Who is Bernie Sanders? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg June 12, 2019

Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to

In the 2016 presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., defined the insurgent wing of the Democratic Party.  He called for a grassroots revolution to pass single-payer health care and retool the economy to fix "a rigged game" against average American households. He opposed trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the grounds they benefited multinational corporations at the expense of workers in the United States and abroad.

A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for 2020 and continues to press his 2016 agenda. His signature health care plan, Medicare for All, would cover everyone and impose zero costs in terms of co-pays, premiums or deductibles. It also would ban nearly all private insurance.

Sanders grew up in a working class household in Brooklyn, N.Y.. As a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s, he was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League and active in the Congress of Racial Equality, a leading civil rights organization that advanced voting rights and desegregation through nonviolence.

Sanders moved to Vermont, entered politics and first ran, unsuccessfully, for governor in 1972. He became Burlington mayor in 1981 and served eight years before winning a congressional seat in 1990. He went on to become one of Vermont’s U.S. Senators in 2006.

Name: Bernie Sanders

Current occupation: U.S. Senator from Vermont

Party: Independent, caucuses with the Democratic Party

Federal offices: U.S. Senate 2007 to present; U.S. House of Representatives 1991 to 2007

Key votes: Voted against the Iraq War authorization resolution in 2003, voted to protect gun makers and dealers from some liability claims in 2005, voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and Most Favored Nation status for China in 1993, voted against the repeal of Glass Steagall banking regulations in 1999.

State and local offices: Mayor, City of Burlington 1981-1989

Private sector work: Occasional university-level lecturer positions

Military: None.

Books authored: "Where We Go From Here" (2018); "Our Revolution: A future to believe in" (2016); "Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution" (2017); "Outsider in the House" (1998).

Education: BA University of Chicago, 1964

Birth date: Sept. 8, 1941

Personal life: Married to Jane O’Meara Sanders; Four children — Levi, Heather, Carina, David

Religion: Jewish

Top issues: Health care, wealth and income inequality, voting rights

Endorsements: Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., co-chairs Sanders’ campaign. Writer and social critic Cornell West, actor Danny DeVito, director Morgan Freeman and rapper Cardi B.

Major donors: Nearly three-fourths of Sanders’ campaign money comes from contributions of $200 or less. He receives no PAC money.

Other coverage:

Bernie Sanders has entered millionaire class, tax returns show

Medicare for All defines one end of the Democratic presidential debate

Medicare for All: What it is, what it isn't

Fact-checking Bernie Sanders and his 2016 campaign

Politico, Bernie Sanders Has a Secret, 2015

Campaign website:

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Jon Greenberg

Who is Bernie Sanders? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate