Sanders is officially an independent, and he caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate. But he identifies as a Democratic socialist, and as the moniker would suggest, Sanders has planted himself decisively on the left wing of American politics during several decades in public office.
Perhaps more than any other issue, Sanders has elevated income inequality as the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He supports raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on wealthy households and corporations, and a stronger social safety net. He’s panned Democrats and Republicans alike for taking a soft approach to Wall Street, blaming the industry for the 2008 economic crisis and vowing to take a harder line on big banks if he’s elected president.
Sanders is also a big supporter of organized labor, and he’s criticized both parties for elevating the concerns of corporations over the needs of everyday workers. He takes a skeptical view of free trade agreements, because he worries they would outsource American jobs. And though he supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship, he’s warned that an influx of migrant labor could displace American workers.
On social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, Sanders has been reliably progressive (though on another divisive social issue, gun control, his record has been more mixed.) And on foreign policy, he’s tended to be dovish, generally backing diplomatic action over the use of military force.
It’s a solidly populist record, and Sanders has used it to push his presidential candidacy into the big leagues, raising millions of dollars from small donations and drawing thousands of people to his rallies. While many are skeptical Sanders will ultimately be able to derail Clinton, the party’s dominant frontrunner, there’s no denying the energy surrounding the senator’s bid.
Here’s a look at where Bernie Sanders stands on the issues.