With the 2016 Presidential heating up, some voters are beginning to “Feel the Bern.” Independent senator turned Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders has been trailing behind frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the polls so far this election season, but that does not mean he is lacking voter support.
Standing on a progressive platform, Sanders has gained popularity in many states around the nation, including some of the earliest primary states where polls have showed him in the lead.
In New Hampshire, the most recent CNN/WMUR poll shows Sanders ahead of Clinton with a 16 percent lead. Of those polled, 63 percent view Sanders as the “most progressive” Democratic candidate running.
Being the longest-serving independent senator in history and a self-described socialist, Sanders has a long history of being progressive. His campaign is gaining popularity for his staunch support of a 15 dollar minimum wage, LGBT rights, single-payer healthcare and tuition free public universities.
The Senator bases much of his campaign around income and wealth inequality, a topic that has been centerfield in his agenda for decades. Sanders became widely known in 2010 after his 8.5-hour filibuster against the extension of the Bush tax cuts.
In a recent interview with Late Show host Stephen Colbert, Sanders stated he believes a government “should actually represent working people and the middle class rather than large campaign donors.”
In that same interview, Sanders also explained he sees a “moral outrage” in the United States.
“In concrete terms,” Sanders explained, “what it means is that it is a moral outrage that the top one-tenth of one percent today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. That is the outrage and that has got to change.”
Sanders began his political career as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. After serving for three terms, Sanders took his policies to the federal government, getting elected as a congressman and eventually a senator.
Before becoming a politician, Sanders participated in civil and human rights demonstrations. As a college student, Bernie Sanders was a member of the Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at the University of Chicago, his alma mater. At one event in 1962, Sanders was arrested for protesting segregation in public schools in Chicago.
Sanders continues to promote nonviolent protesting today, recently telling a group of Burlington High School students to “argue with [their] teachers, argue with [their] parents,” and saying that “at the end of the day, democracy is a tough process.”
“I’m not afraid of being called a troublemaker,” Sanders claims, “but you have to be smart. And being smart means not creating needless enemies for yourself.”