Bernie Sanders launches White House bid

Veteran: During the 1960s and 70s, Sanders was an anti-war and anti-racism activist. © Getty

In a stirring speech that opened his bid to be the Democratic nominee, Sanders attacked the “billionaire class” and called Donald Trump “the most dangerous president in US history”.

“We will no longer tolerate the greed of corporate America and the billionaire class.”

This was the bold declaration from Bernie Sanders as he launched his campaign to become US president in 2020. On Saturday, Sanders stood before thousands of supporters in Brooklyn, New York, and launched a stinging attack on President Donald Trump.

“The underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies,” he proclaimed.

Things were very different in 2016 when Sanders launched his first unsuccessful campaign to be the Democratic nominee. Then, he was a widely unknown underdog, trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls by a huge 57%.

But the self-proclaimed socialist won an army of loyal supporters with passionate performances in the TV debates. Now, he is the biggest name in a crowded field of more than 10 candidates vying for the nomination.

Sanders’s left-wing policies are particularly popular with young people. He wants to scrap college tuition fees, more than double the minimum wage to $15 and give Americans universal free health care.

The 77-year-old senator for Vermont is viewed as a radical outsider by many mainstream, moderate Democrats like his former rival Hillary Clinton. But this time around he’s not alone. Since 2016, the Democratic Party has grown more left-wing, and other liberal candidates are embracing his ideas.

The son of a Jewish immigrant, he was keen to contrast his upbringing with Trump’s on Saturday.

“I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos and country clubs,” he said.

“But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket, to start a new and better life.”

At his own rally on the same day, Trump’s message was clear: “We know the future does not belong to those who believe in socialism.”

Is he right?

Feel the Bern

Will Bernie Sanders be the next president of the United States? His anti-elite language could appeal to rural, working-class Americans who feel left behind. Could he steal votes from Trump? Can Sanders overcome his struggle to connect with non-white and older voters?

He must see off the competition within the Democratic Party first. While the left-wing wave sweeping the party may be good for Sanders, his support could be split by other liberal candidates in the field. Just as being widely known should work to his advantage, it could also hurt him. In a recent poll, 59% of people said they want “someone entirely new”.

You Decide

  1. Will Bernie Sanders become the Democratic nominee?
  2. Why is socialism becoming more popular in the Democratic Party?

Activities

  1. Research one of the other Democratic candidates and write a short profile about their life, career and policies.
  2. Write a news report about Sanders’s campaign launch. Use the video in Become An Expert to help you. Use what you think are the most interesting and exciting quotes.

Some People Say...

“A nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much, while so many have so little.”

Bernie Sanders

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Bernie Sanders is the longest-serving independent senator (which means that he does not belong to either the Democratic or Republican party) in the history of Congress. However, he chooses to campaign with the Democratic Party to boost his chances of reaching the White House. Sanders was born in Brooklyn, where he launched his campaign at the weekend.
What do we not know?
Whether Sanders will secure the Democratic nomination. In 2016, when he faced Hillary Clinton, he received 43.1% of Democratic delegate votes compared with Clinton’s 55.2%. Now, the race is far more open with a larger pool of candidates, many of whom are not yet widely known to the public.

Word Watch

Socialist
Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, which he defines as someone who wants to “create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.”
10 candidates
Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar are among the other candidates. Aside from Sanders, Warren is one of the most prominent candidates. Former President Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, is also said to be considering a run.
College tuition fees
The average annual cost of tuition fees in the US was estimated at $33,215 (£25,376) in 2016. Over four years, this adds up to more than $100,000.
Health care
Health care is not free in the US like it is in the UK. The US government funds two health care plans called Medicare and Medicaid, which was extended by Obama. Some Americans have their health insurance paid by their employer.
Liberal
Widely used in America to describe someone who is socially liberal with left-wing views.
Father
Fred Trump was a wealthy real estate developer.
Poll
By USA Today and Suffolk University.