The 2016 presidential election catapulted Sen. Bernie Sanders to national stardom, but as he heads into the 2020 primaries, here’s a list of facts you might not have known about him—unless you’re a die-hard Bernie bro.
1. He was involved with the civil rights movement.
Sanders attended the 1963 March on Washington and helped organize a 15-day sit-in to protest the University of Chicago’s unfair renting practices toward black students. After a later protest of segregation in the South Side of Chicago, he was charged with evading arrest and fined $25.
2. He lived on a kibbutz.
In the 1960s, Sanders lived and worked on a kibbutz, a small community and farm, near Haifa in Israel. Sanders, who is Jewish, was exposed to some of the socialist values for which he advocates today.
3. He lost a lot of times before breaking into national politics.
Majoring in political science, Sanders was inclined toward politics from an early age. However, it took many years before he reached the level of fame he wields now. He ran unsuccessfully as an independent for governor of Vermont in 1972, 1976 and 1986; U.S. senator in 1972 and 1974 and U.S. representative in 1988. He was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in a tight race before becoming a U.S. representative, then senator.
4. He’s a dad and grandfather.
Unlike some of the Democratic candidates whose children are visible on the campaign trail (Henry Gillibrand won a giant blue sloth at the Iowa State Fair this summer), Sanders’ children are adults and lead lives more out of the spotlight. He has one biological son and three step-children with his wife and advisor, Jane O'Meara Sanders.
5. He co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The caucus, which advocates for economic justice, civil rights, peace and security and environmental protection, was co-founded by Sanders in 1991, and many give it credit for driving the Democratic platform to become more progressive than ever before.
6. He once filibustered for nearly nine hours.
Sanders took the floor at 10:25 a.m. on December 10, 2010 and did not relinquish it until 7 p.m. The speech argued against Barack Obama’s tax cut deal with the Republicans. “It has been a very long day,” Sanders said as he finished. “Let me simply say that I believe a proposal that was developed by the president and the Republicans are nowhere as good as we can achieve.”
7. He gained more of the youth vote than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.
Under-30-year-olds are notoriously bad at turning out to the polls, but they did for Sanders during his 2016 run. In the 21 states that voted by June 1 in the primaries, he won approximately 29 percent more votes by those under the age of 30 than Clinton and Trump combined, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
8. He has a strong record with women.
Sanders supports a bevy of progressive policies for women including the right to chose, equal pay, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment and more. However, his 2016 campaign drew criticism for pay disparity and demeaning treatment toward female staffers.
9. He’s a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sponsored the progressive plan to advance environmental protections and social justice. In the Senate, Sen. Ed Markey sponsored the legislation with several presidential candidates as co-sponsors: Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders.
10. He’s the longest serving independent member of Congress.
“Independent” can mean a lot of things in America’s political landscape. Sometimes, they are representatives of U.S. territories, champions of single issues or presidential hopefuls who want to circumnavigate the two-party system. But self-identified socialist Sanders outlasted them all in Congress with 16 years in the House and his third term in the Senate.