| Guide to:|
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born 1941) is the junior senator from Vermont. Polls show him as the most popular national politician in the United States.[note 1] This political independent has in fact been a part-time Democrat throughout his political career. Sanders was a candidate for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination before he dropped out and endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in political science before entering politics. He was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981, and was re-elected twice more before running for Congress. After spending decades in obscurity, Sanders has become a powerful force in the Democratic Party since 2015, helping to change the sociopolitical narrative of the country and revitalize the left wing. Incidentally, he is actually related to Larry David, who plays him on the long-running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.
- 1 Politics
- 2 2016 presidential bid
- 3 The "Sanders Effect," moving the party left
- 4 Policy positions
- 5 Endorsement of Clinton
- 6 Would Bernie Have Won?
- 7 A look ahead
- 8 Notes
- 9 See also
- 10 External Links
- 11 References
|—Bernie Sanders at the 2015 CNN Democratic debate in Las Vegas.|
Sanders runs as an independent, but caucuses with the Senate Democrats, describing himself as a "democratic socialist".[note 2] He agreed to vote with the party on all procedural matters in exchange for being assigned to committees as though a Democrat, and filibustered for 8½ hours in protest at the renewal of the Bush tax cuts in 2010.
He argues in favor of the Nordic social welfare model and government-funded higher education at public universities. Noted linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky calls Sanders "basically a New Dealer". A committed civil libertarian, Sanders opposes the NSA's domestic surveillance programs and believes Edward Snowden should be treated leniently:
“”The information disclosed by Edward Snowden has been extremely important in allowing Congress and the American people to understand the degree to which the NSA has abused its authority and violated our constitutional rights...
Sanders has been less effective than the average member of Congress at getting his legislation through Congress, who passes 1.4 bills a year. By comparison, he has been in the Senate for nine years but has sponsored only one bill that passed. Sanders also successfully amended bills 57 times in nine years. On a year-by-year basis, an average senator passed 7.4 amendments, but for Sanders that number is significantly below the mean, 6.3. However, he had a strong reputation as a bipartisan deal maker when he was Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman.
All of this is not surprising given that the duopoly has been moving far to Sanders' right for decades, at least since Reagan, and FDR could not get his program passed by today's centrist Democrats. The explosive repudiation of this right-ward trend caused the Bernie movement to explode in 2016 and Bernie's positions to zoom into mass popularity, a socio-political reality reflected in recent elections.
Leftist bona fides
Sanders was active in the civil rights movement and participated in Martin Luther King's March on Washington. As the Chairman of the University of Chicago branch of CORE, he joined a sit-in against the University of Chicago and was arrested for resisting arrest. A perennial candidate for leftist fringe parties in the 1970s, he ran as an independent in 1981 and became mayor of Burlington, Vermont, winning a four-way race by ten votes in the recount. He campaigned for Jesse Jackson's unsuccessful bids for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988.
In 1990, Sanders defeated the incumbent Republican for Vermont's only seat in the House of Representatives, after a failed attempt two years prior. In 2006, he won his Senate seat in a tight race against the richest person in Vermont and was re-elected in 2012 with 71% of the vote (ironically, he was helped with donations from Hillary Clinton’s PAC). That year, he also argued in vain for Obama to be challenged in the Democratic primaries.
Sanders continues to champion many of the same causes as he did in the 1970s and 80s such as income inequality, anti-racism and LGBT rights. He currently holds a 100% approval rating with the NAACP and the NHLA (National Hispanic Leadership Agenda). He describes income inequality as the great economic, political and moral issue of our time, and advocates a Scandinavian-style economic model for the US, including free public college tuition, universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, and breaking up the big banks. Commenting on Pope Francis' call for a "just economy," Sanders said:
That message is also important for those of us living in the United States, the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Why do the top .1 percent of our population own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent? Why are 20 percent of our children living in poverty, the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major industrialized country on earth? Why do 35 million Americans still lack health insurance, with many more underinsured? Why are 51 percent of African-American high school graduates unemployed or under-employed? Why do we have more people in jail than any other country on earth? Why are millions of Americans working two or three jobs just to survive economically?
Sanders has long criticized many aspects of US foreign policy, particularly the CIA's penchant for overthrowing the democratically elected leaders of other countries. Indeed, he once called for the agency to be abolished, but has demurred a bit on that during his presidential run. In the 1980s, Sanders held a town hall assembly on US foreign policy with Noam Chomsky, and traveled to Cuba to meet Fidel Castro, and to Nicaragua to meet Daniel Ortega, the Sandinistas' leader. He also sent a letter to Margaret Thatcher denouncing her refusal to grant IRA members prisoner-of-war status. In 1988 as Mayor of Burlington he tried to get it to be a sister city of Yaroslavl in the then-Soviet Union.
He also proposed two bills that would make it easier to form "employee-ownership," a form of socialism where the workers of a company own shares of the company they work in. 
Break with orthodoxy on the Israel-Palestine conflict
Sanders supports a two-state solution where both Israel and Palestine have international recognition. He has consistently voted for military funding for the IDF, but — remarkably in US presidential election politics — has also repeatedly spoken out about the suffering of Palestinians. During a primary debate with Clinton in April 2016, Sanders described Israel's 2014 bombardment of Gaza as "disproportionate" and argued:
...if we are ever going to bring peace to that region, which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. Decimated houses, decimated health care, decimated schools. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think, to an approach that works in the Middle East.
As The New Yorker observed, such talk "represent[s] a striking departure from political orthodoxy" in a presidential campaign.
But he's a Jew! He can't be pro-Palestine!
Despite Sanders' break with political orthodoxy on Israel, this hasn't stopped some, such as Black Lives Matter activist Marissa Johnson, from criticizing Sanders over his relation to the Gaza crisis. Palestinian-American and journalist, Ali Abunimah, says Sanders isn't "very radical" in his views on Gaza and that his history on the issue is a mixed bag, but he currently is willing to reject the carnage Netanyahu inflicts on Gaza.
Despite reports to the contrary, Sanders is not a citizen of Israel. However, lists which name Sanders as an Israeli citizen have originated among the far-right antisemitic side of the Internet for a while yet in order to play into the "dual loyalty" myth, which has led to some unintentional consequences with regards to a Diane Rehm interview with Sanders.
In 1972 and 1976, when Bernie first ran for office in Vermont, he was an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ community; as a plank of his platform, he proposed the abolishment of all discriminatory laws pertaining to sexuality. In 1983, after he was elected to be mayor of Burlington, Bernie backed the city's first-ever pride march, saying that "in the state of Vermont, people have the right to exercise their lifestyles". In light of Sanders' pro-gay record, the Human Rights Campaign gave him a 100% approval rating in the 113th Congress – an organisation which later supported Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nominee, and that Sanders later claimed (not without merit) was part of "the Establishment".
Sanders generally opposed measures to ban gay marriage. He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), one of only 57 people to vote against the measure in Congress – compared with 342 voting in favor in 1996. However, Sanders' reasoning for opposing DOMA does appear to have changed over the years: his reasoning at the time was that the bill imposed on states' rights, a contrast to his later support for same-sex marriage nationwide.
As both a congressman and later a junior senator from Vermont, he supported that state's 2000 civil union law and 2009 law legalizing same-sex marriage, the first time Sanders publicly spoke in favour of marriage equality for same-sex couples. In 2011, Sanders said to the Advocate that: "I hope the president and all Americans join in supporting marriage equality", alongside a number of Democratic senators.
In 2013, he co-sponsored the Uniting Families Act; this bill was primarily intended to allow LGBT residents and citizens of the United States to bring their partners into America, just as members of opposite sex couples are able to do. When the Supreme Court overturned DOMA in June 2015, Sanders praised the historic ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.
“”[Same-sex marriage] is a victory for same-sex couples across our country as well as all those seeking to live in a nation where every citizen is afforded equal rights [...] I am very glad the Court has finally caught up to the American people.
|—Sanders on the 2015 Supreme Court ruling legalising same-sex marriage.|
Sanders also voted against "Don't ask, don't tell" in 1993 and has been a vocal advocate for its repeal for a number of years, voting to repeal the policy in 2010. A video of Sanders defending people whom Republican Senator Duke Cunningham referred to as "homos in the military" has also gone viral.
In 2009, Sanders also voted against an amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting children.
“”As somebody who has consistently voted to end discrimination in all forms — who voted against DOMA way back in the 1990s — I will do all that I can to continue our efforts to make this a nondiscriminatory society, whether those being discriminated against are transgender, gay, black or Hispanic.
2016 presidential bid
On 30 April, 2015, Sanders announced that he would seek the Democratic Party's nomination for president, running against Hillary Clinton. On the first day of his primary campaign, he raised more than $1.5 million from 35,000 people, and had 100,000 people register as supporters. He pledged not to accept any money from super PACs or corporations, a pledge he kept.
The strength of Sanders' grassroots donor base was evident when a pro-Hillary super PAC ran a smear piece against him. In response, Sanders emailed his supporters to ask for a $3 donation. He raised more than a million dollars in two days. Sanders repeated the trick when his record on guns was attacked in an ad run by a Martin O'Malley super PAC. This time he raised $800,000.
His campaign message largely focused on economic inequality, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He has stated that Middle Eastern countries should be the main force against ISIS. He has thus far focused on domestic policy, leaving his foreign policy agenda murky beyond a few grand outlines, like his moderate pro-Israel stance and his moderate anti-war position.
Sanders defeated Clinton by a wide margin in the New Hampshire primary. On Super Tuesday, he won his home state of Vermont by over 70 points, as well as Minnesota, Colorado and Oklahoma. Clinton, however, crushed Sanders in the South, with decisive wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and most notably, delegate-rich Texas.
Unlike most other candidates in the 2016 presidential race from both major parties (especially his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton), Sanders did not have many endorsements from office-holding members of his party, largely due to his political affiliation as an independent. Only one other Senator and nine sitting members of the House endorsed him, including: Keith Ellison, Raul Grijalva, Tulsi Gabbard, Peter Welch, and Alan Grayson. It should be noted that in addition to the handful of federal officials, Sanders did enjoy some support from state representatives, primarily from Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Sanders' supporters pointed to aggregate polling consistently showing he was the stronger candidate against Donald Trump and other potential Republican nominees, results that persisted through the primaries.  However, he was also a largely untested candidate to the general public, who were far more familiar with Trump or Clinton. Due to his far-left positions by American standards, which have historically been unpopular, his poor debating skills, and the opposition research Republicans had against him, it is debatable whether his poll numbers would have held up. On the other hand, polls have also shown that a majority of Americans prefer a single-payer healthcare system over the Affordable Care Act (let alone no health plan at all).  Not insignificantly, polls have also shown Bernie being the most favorably viewed politician in the United States,   in contrast with Donald Trump, who was
one of the most unfavorably viewed presidential candidate in US history. 
When the votes through Super Tuesday were tallied, Sanders was shown to be competitive or ahead with young people (of any race or gender), primarily those describing themselves as liberal or very liberal. He was, however, badly outpolled among both white and black voters in the South. Sanders' extremely poor performance among older minorities would ultimately seal his fate.
During the Democratic debate in Brooklyn, Sanders said: "Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South, no question about it, that is the most conservative part of this great country. But you know what, we’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up.” Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight criticised this line of thinking, though Sanders did, indeed, win many primaries outside of the South.
The Sanders campaign highlighted his endorsement of Jesse Jackson for president in 1988, and pointing to pictures of him chaining himself to a black protester and organizing Chicago sit-ins in 1962. His upset win in Michigan gave supporters hope that his civil rights record was beginning to resonate with the black community, but Clinton's 83%-16% win in Mississippi meant she gained delegates overall despite losing Michigan.
Sanders' loss in New York effectively ended the race. Exit polls indicated that, although he won comfortably with under-40s, he was unable to overcome Clinton's lead with older voters, both women and blacks. Sanders vowed to fight on, but finally announced he was "winding down" his campaign after losing the final primary in California by a wider than expected margin.
It's likely that many disaffected voters who wanted Elizabeth Warren to run flocked to Sanders. As Warren almost certainly would have done had she run, Sanders ran to the left of Hillary Clinton. Due to Clinton's deep unpopularity in some areas, especially the mountain states and West Virginia, Sanders also paradoxically picked up many more conservative Democrats, in many areas matching Obama's 2008 performance.
Nevertheless, and borrowing from Clinton's '08 campaign playbook which slammed Obama supporters as "Obama Boys," some establishment Democrats and others such as Robinson Meyer, a writer for The Atlantic who coined the term, claimed neo-reactionary "Bernie Bros" were picking Bernie just because he wasn't a woman (Shillary).The Gawker-run blog site Jezebel has a write-up on this phenomenon, and the Sanders campaign's concerns about them. This tactic unsurprisingly infuriated some female Sanders supporters:
“”There are literally millions of women who support Sanders over Clinton. A new Iowa poll yesterday shows Sanders with a 15-point lead over Clinton among women under 45, while one-third of Iowa women over 45 support him. A USA Today/Rock the Vote poll from two weeks ago found Sanders nationally “with a 19-point lead over front-runner Hillary Clinton, 50 percent to 31 percent, among Democratic and independent women ages 18 to 34.” One has to be willing to belittle the views and erase the existence of a huge number of American women to wield this “Bernie Bro” smear. 
Some of the examples of "BernieBros" were women, including conservative women who weren't Clinton supporters. Female Sanders supporters on Twitter were accused of being "functional" "bros" and the like, to try to redeem the tactic. But as one writer put it:
“”Not all Sanders supporters are dicks. Not all Sanders supporters have dicks. The mainstream left-leaning press’s attempts to insist otherwise are a shameful indictment of the fact that many of them are in the tank for Clinton—and they don’t like being called on it. 
Regardless, Sanders denounced any supporters of his who may be sexist.
The "Sanders Effect," moving the party left
The Sanders candidacy and the enthusiasm behind it forced Clinton to move somewhat leftward – or to at least speak that way – as the campaign season moved along. Sanders was allowed to appoint five members to the committee charged with forming the DNC Party Platform in 2016, appointing such folks as Keith Ellison and Cornel West (a staunch Obama critic).
The platform committee agreed to adopt many of Sanders' policies, and the Clinton camp offered several concessions: abolishing the death penalty, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, preserving and expanding Social Security, even reinstating an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall.  It did not include opposing the TPP, but it did include a caveat where any free trade deal would need to protect workers' rights and the environment if it hoped to pass with Democratic support. He was unable to get amendments that called for a policy imposing a tax on carbon and a national moratorium on fracking, and he could not get the committee to denounce illegal Israeli settlement building, but the committee agreed on supporting a two-state solution that guarantees Israel's security and Palestine's independence.
Once leaked emails showed that Debbie Wasserman Schultz had been biased against Sanders in the primary, she was forced to resign as head of the DNC. Finally, just before he was to make his speech at the DNC Convention, Sanders supporters and Clinton delegates agreed to strip the autonomy of 2/3rds of superdelegates, forcing them to vote with how their states vote in the primary. 
Sanders has become increasingly popular in the left wing of the Democratic Party, especially since a wingnut won against a liberal for the second time in the past five elections. Many find him to be the American parallel to Corbyn, moving the formerly center-left party which had moved to centrism in the '90s, '00s, and '10s back to the center-left.
"Our Revolution" has also become massively popular among the left wing of the Democratic Party, as anti-establishment sentiment rises among Millennials and Zers on the left and right, in a sort of neo-Counterculture similar to that of the Baby Boomers.
Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress are also PACs formed by former Sanders supporters attempting to elect progressives to national office. They're working together with National Nurses United and other groups to continue grassroots activism throughout the country.
With wingnuts accusing him of being the second coming of Stalin and some far-left moonbats criticising Sanders for not being a True Socialist™ it can be hard to tell what criticisms of his policies are actually rooted in truth.
His foreign policy views are
muddled complex, with votes against both Iraq wars, support for peaceful regime change in Libya, and opposition to intervention in Syria, but votes in favor of the NATO interventions in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, although his official campaign said that the latter was "begrudgingly". For this, he was criticised by radical left groupings such as the Liberty Union Party, where he was unironically nicknamed "Bernie the Bomber".
He supported the Iraq Liberation Act which applied the disastrous sanctions on Iraq and demanded that regime change; this act set the precedent for Bush's invasion. He also supports drone strikes as long as they are used effectively and selectively and do not target innocent people. This makes his position essentially no different from Clinton's.
He has not been able to produce a detailed plan of any kind when it comes to foreign policy, whereas Hillary could at least claim four years as Secretary of State, whether you think she did a good job or not. In the PBS debate there was once more a focus on foreign policy, where Sanders said he is deeply critical of Henry Kissinger, calling him "one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern [American] history" whereas Clinton counts him as a friend and adviser.
His views on gun control are a concern for many who support universally increased measures, as he supports gun control for urban areas but not rural areas. During the primaries, he quickly flipped his more pro-gun positions, which were more popular with his Vermont constituents. Clinton repeatedly criticized Bernie Sanders for voting in favor of PLCAA (The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) a 2005 law passed with the support of gun companies and the National Rifle Association (NRA) that shields the gun industry from lawsuits when third parties "criminally or unlawfully misuse" their guns. Sanders has said he now supports repealing the law, but he continues to defend its key tenets. He also voted against the 1993 Brady Bill which imposed a mandatory five-day waiting period because he believed that the federal government was overstepping its power.
In 2009, Sanders, by then a senator, voted to allow firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains, as an amendment to the congressional budget. The amendment passed.
While he supports immigration reform (including using "parole in place" in order to bring back already deported immigrants) and detests xenophobia, his stance on open borders is that a huge volume of foreign workers would depress wages and threaten the welfare state and even the nation-state. He voted against Ted Kennedy's bipartisan immigration reform in 2007 and for bipartisan legislation that could have allowed indefinite detention for immigrants, though those bills are more nuanced than they appear, with various civil rights groups supporting and criticizing them. He has said that immigration to the United States is a result of global poverty and hinted at support for reform of the role and behavior of the IMF and similar institutions.
He has a long history of opposing deregulation (such as opposing the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act) but did vote for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which prevented the SEC from regulating the credit default swaps that helped cause the credit crunch of 2008.
His position regarding Communist regimes
Sanders has been criticized for lavishing praise on the Sandinista and Castro governments in the '80s. Regarding the former, Sanders said in a 1985 interview, "Now, obviously, I will be attacked by every editorial writer in the [Burlington] Free Press with being a dumb dupe. Maybe I am. I was impressed by their intelligence and by their sincerity. These are not political hacks. You don't fight and lose your family and get tortured and go to jail for years to be a hack. They have very deep convictions." When asked, while mayor of Burlington, whether he would condemn human rights abuses or curtailment of freedoms by left-wing regimes, Sanders responded by pointing out similar acts committed by the US government.
Even though his racial justice reforms are progressive, indeed, his participation in the civil rights movement counts as a plus, he has come out against reparations for slavery. He has been slammed for signing Bill Clinton's Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the single most influential piece of legislation on race issues he's been invloved with to date, which heavily incarcerated racial minorities, but he did try to amend it and supported it because of its inclusion of the Violence Against Women Act.
2016 presidential run
During Bernie's 2016 presidential run there were questions as to how he would succeed in getting Congress to agree to his highly ambitious (and in most cases, expensive) goals, especially should both houses of Congress remain in Republican control. To his credit, he admitted that this would pose an issue, but said little about how he'd specifically deal with it, outside of requiring an unprecedented amount of outside support for his policies. Notably, the same criticism applies to Clinton as well — Republicans in Congress were notorious for refusing to work with her own husband Bill during his term, and what legislation did pass this way tended towards the
His age would have made him the oldest person to take office as President, at 75; though this doesn't stand out as much as one would think since Trump, at 70, was also the oldest President to take office in the event.
Sanders supports cigarette taxes, but not soda taxes, and ponders the legality of tobacco cigarettes, but did not call explicitly for an outright ban. This is ironic because Eric Garner was killed during an arrest for ostensibly selling cigarettes on a street corner, a black market created by New York's cigarette tax which is so high it effectively constitutes prohibition. In light of that, it's ironic that Sanders has advocated for the decriminalization of marijuana. While cannabis smoke is not as carcinogenic as tobacco smoke, it can lead to many of the same maladies when smoked in similar quantities.
In 1998, the House of Representatives approved a compact struck between Texas, Vermont and Maine that would allow Vermont and Maine to dump low-level nuclear waste at a designated site in Sierra Blanca, Texas. Sanders, at the time representing Vermont in the House, cosponsored the bill and actively ushered it through Congress. Located about 16 miles from the Mexican border, Sierra Blanca’s population is predominantly of Mexican ancestry. At the time, the community was about two-thirds Latino, and its residents had an average income of $8,000, although the low-level nuclear waste included "items such as scrap metal and worker’s gloves… as well as medical gloves used in radiation treatments at hospitals." However, supporters of the bill, which included Bill Clinton and most Democrats in Congress, were not intending to simply dump the waste at random; it would have an officially planned site separated from the community. In the end, however, the Sierra Blanca site was rejected by the Texas state legislature.
“”The manner in which you bring up your daughter with regard to sexual attitudes may very well determine whether or not she will develope[sic] breast cancer, among other things.
|—Dr. Bernie Sanders in 1969.|
In terms of medicine, Sanders' views on vaccinations are clear and science-based. However, his stance on and promotion of alternative medicine, such as his 2013 sponsorship of a bill that would waste government dollars on totally ineffective and unsafe CAM are rather alarming. In letters the 28-year-old Sanders wrote to the Vermont Freeman, Dr. Sanders also believed that cultural forces were driving Americans to illness and that sexual repression caused cancer. However, it's fairly safe to say that Sanders has changed his mind in the 48 years since then...
Sanders rejects climate denial, but supports GMO labeling (despite believing GMOs do not cause health problems), something which some skeptics regard as a Trojan horse for the anti-GMO movement.
Bernie Sanders believes the U.S. should liberate herself from fossil fuels not only because they are not renewable but because they contribute to (anthropogenic) global warming and climate change. He has argued for aggressive investments not just in green energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal, but also in high-speed trains.[note 3] In 2011 (after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster), he called for a moratorium on the licensing of new nuclear plants and the re-licensing of those currently in operation. Indeed, Sanders made clear his belief that nuclear energy should play no role in a future energy policy of the United States, citing concerns about the operational costs of nuclear power plants and the radioactive wastes they create. He is also critical of the amount of money the U.S. government has invested in nuclear energy.
Now, of course, new reactors are more efficient and safer than their predecessors. What Sanders does not know is that nuclear recycling and reducing nuclear wastes are real possibilities, actively pursued by multiple countries, including the United States, at the moment. The U.S. could power itself for the next thousands of years using just the uranium it has already mined. Meanwhile, researchers and engineers continue to work on ever safer and more efficient designs for nuclear power plants, sometimes even testing completely new concepts. These could potentially replace the 100 nuclear power plants currently operational in the U.S., but which are scheduled for retirement in the 2030s. Completely replacing them with renewable energy instead may not be a workable strategy. Unlike nuclear energy, which is stable and efficient, the most popular forms of renewable energy, wind and solar, are inherently intermittent. The missing ingredient is thus a high-capacity and durable means of storing the electrical energy generated but not used. Unfortunately, the commonly used lithium-ion battery degrades far too quickly to be economically used for such large scales. Something better is in order. Until the suitable battery technologies become commercially available and possibly even after that, nuclear energy continues to have an important role to play in the shift away from fossil fuels, especially at a time when demand for energy is on the rise. In fact, due to growing awareness of the need to reduce greenhouse emissions and the promise of nuclear power, many young engineers and entrepreneurs nationwide are investing in the next generation of nuclear reactors, collectively known as Generation IV reactors. Some of these might be able to run on depleted uranium, (low-level radioactive) leftovers from the uranium enrichment process. At present, the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, home to the biggest deposit of depleted uranium in the entire United States, has enough of this material to power the entire country for 750 years. After decades of a "nuclear winter" for the industry, a nuclear renaissance is just around the corner. It is wise not to derail this opportunity with anti-nuclear phobia.
Even though Bernie Sanders has frequently pointed out that Hillary Clinton is more hawkish than he is, he has a much more complex history with the military-industrial complex than it at first appears. Most notably, he is supporting the development of the F-35 fifth generation fighter jet which costs $1.2 trillion. Some of these will be stationed and manufactured in Vermont. During his 2012 reelection campaign, Sanders ran against a Republican who opposed the F-35 as a waste of resources. Sanders was all for it. When it has come time to choose between defense jobs and a dovish defense policy, Sanders has consistently chosen to stand with the arms-makers rather than the peace activists. In 1985, for example, protesters massed at the General Electric plant in Burlington, Vermont, where Sanders was serving as mayor. They were protesting the fact that the plant was manufacturing Gatling guns to fight socialists in Central America. Bernie had the cops go in and arrest the protesters.
Despite being called a radical in the current American political spectrum, much of the criticism of Sanders’s foreign policy stances have come from his left flank. The World Socialist Web Site called Sanders a “silent partner of American militarism.” Counterpunch, a left-wing magazine, has criticized Sanders on more than one occasion for being insufficiently pacifist, accusing him of behaving "more like a technofascist disguised as a liberal" who "never opposes any defense spending bill". If most of the criticisms Sanders receives on his foreign policy positions come from these people, one can safely say he is a moderate.
Endorsement of Clinton
“”Hillary Clinton understands that we must fix an economy in America that is rigged and that sends almost all new wealth and income to the top one percent. Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in America works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She believes that we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she wants to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure — our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.
On July 12, Sanders reluctantly endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, knowing that it was better to unite against the then-presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, citing some of Clinton's left-wing credentials:
- Anti-poverty advocacy
- Support for universal health care
- Promises to raise the minimum wage and make higher education tuition-free.
- Campaigning against income inequality
- Support for renewable energy and concern about global warming and climate change
In return, Clinton admired Sanders for "[bringing] people off the sidelines and into the political process", as well as "energiz[ing] and inspir[ing] a generation of young people who care deeply about our country". For supporting Clinton, many Sanders supporters accused Bernie of being a sellout to the Democratic establishment (reviving the talk of Bernie Bros); Jill Stein from the Green Party accused Sanders of attempting to "have a revolutionary campaign [with]in a counter-revolutionary party", and Trump – who never sees a populist bandwagon he can't join – said that Sanders "has totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton".
However, during the primary, Sanders repeatedly criticized Clinton for her somewhat more right-wing and hawkish views: Hillary had adopted a more hawkish attitude towards the War on Terror, with a particular emphasis on increased mass surveillance methods and longer terrorist watch lists to supposedly defeat terrorism. She has also:
- Called for more US forces to be deployed in Iraq and Syria to combat Daesh
- Voted in favor of the Iraq War
- Opposed breaking up big banks by opposing the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act (repealed in 1999)
- Voted in favour of the PATRIOT Act
- Supported the use of capital punishment and harsh sentencing for prisoners
- Supported improved security along the US border
- Not taken a strong stand against the Keystone XL pipeline from its inception until 2015, originally stating she would be "inclined" to sign off on the project if it were in the national interest.
In spite of the fact of being behind in the pledged delegate count and mounting pressure for him to drop out, Sanders refused to concede for quite some time, using his remaining leverage to influence the Democratic Party on legislative agenda, arguing that defeating Trump should not be their only goal. However, Sanders later said that he would be willing to cooperate with Hillary Clinton in order to prevent a Trump presidency, a promise he has since made good on (as seen above).
Concerns had been risen about there being a large number of so-called Bernie-or-bust voters; polls seemed to show that these people were but a significant minority. Polling close to the election put the number of Sanders' core supporters who planned to vote for Clinton as high as 90%. Clinton's loss in the election and her narrow margins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, suggest the fears may have been right after all.
Would Bernie Have Won?
The unanticipated rise of Bernie Sanders' popularity can be seen as a continuation of a movement of social agitation that saw its first expression in Occupy Wall Street. This movement of politically active young adults is grossly dissatisfied with the Democratic Party's politics and is pushing the national political discussion further left than many Democrats have been willing to go.
Many see Hillary Clinton's loss to a deeply unpopular candidate like Trump as indicative of the Democrats' inability to turn out votes on any level, municipal, state or federal. After Clinton lost to Trump, the pundit Matt Yglesias declared the party "a smoking pile of rubble":
“”Republicans control the House, and they control the Senate....
In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans....the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure. 
In June of 2016, when it was clear that Clinton had secured the nomination, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi observed about the Sanders phenomenon: "This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters."
“”They ought to be horrified to their marrow that the all-powerful Democratic Party ended up having to dig in for a furious rally to stave off a quirky Vermont socialist almost completely lacking big-dollar donors or institutional support....But to read the papers in the last two days is to imagine that we didn't just spend a year witnessing the growth of a massive grassroots movement fueled by loathing of the party establishment...
When Trump won the general election, angry Sanders supporters launched the meme "Bernie Would have Won," which went viral:
“”After the election, Sanders supporters raged against the DNC machine on Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites. The "Bernie Would've Won" meme takes a myriad of forms, but all express the same idea: that Sanders, had he been given the chance, would have taken down Trump.
Sanders played some political capital at the Democratic Convention, and "was given unprecedented say over the Democratic Party platform,"  but the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously shot down his proposals for open primaries and the removal of superdelegates, a mechanism adopted by establishment Democrats to "protect" incumbents from the grassroots.[note 4] To what extent the Bernie contingent can effect desperately needed change in the party without these reforms remains to be seen. Democrats who want to win in the future, however, may have to accommodate the Bernie voters.
Poll after poll during the primaries indicated Sanders would have beaten Trump by wider margins than Hillary Clinton, which suggested that even though the polls predicting a Clinton win over Trump turned out to be wrong, that the larger margin of win Sanders consistently enjoyed would have meant victory. And indeed:
“”Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have beaten Donald Trump by a historic margin if he had been the Democratic nominee, according to a private pre-election poll provided to The Huffington Post. The national survey of more than 1,600 registered voters, conducted by Gravis Marketing two days before the general election, found that Sanders would have received 56 percent of the vote while Trump would have won 44 percent. The poll was commissioned and financed by outgoing Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat who endorsed Sanders in the presidential primary. 
Unfortunately for Sanders, the Republicans had plenty of tricks up their sleeves for a Bernie nomination, which would have made for the most one-sided attack campaign since 1988:
“”Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.
Other attacks included:
- The fact he was on unemployment until his mid-30's.
- Him being accused of stealing electricity from a neighbor when he couldn't afford it. [better source needed]
- His support of the Sandinistas and Castro, which could have cost him Florida.
- Him supposedly violating campaign finance laws. [better source needed]
- The failure of his proposed healthcare system when it was attempted in Vermont.
- His focus on college education, with fewer plans for non-college educated voters.
- His bill to send nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas.
These factors could still put Sanders in a difficult position against Trump, perhaps still even lose. Though Trump himself had shrugged off several scandals, he was faced against someone else who was also perceived as dishonest and was covered in scandals, to be fair. Still, others have argued that it was Trump's anti-establishment rhetoric that helped him shrug off scandals to begin with, and that Bernie could more than match this:
“”So then, what undermines the power of right-wing populism? Progressive populism! By telling a more compelling story about the causes and culprits of working people’s economic woes, progressive populists like Bernie Sanders are able to seriously weaken one of the central pillars of the right-wing populist appeal. First of all, Bernie could equally wield the power of being an anti-establishment outsider candidate in a populist moment. As such Sanders was also uniquely positioned to go after Trump as a particularly scorn-worthy member of the billionaire class — to frame Trump as a poser who adorns himself with the superficial trappings of populism, while he enriches only himself.
According to political scientist Brian Schaffner’s analysis of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), 12 percent of Sanders voters backed Trump, and 9 percent voted third party. In Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three states that determined the outcome of the election, Schaffner estimated that 9%, 18%, and 16% of Sanders voters voted for Trump, respectively. However, an even greater number of Obama voters, close to 8 million, voted for Trump as well, so an even greater blame lies on Clinton for not keeping these voters. This was enough to cost Clinton the election. Had Sanders won the nomination, it is possible that he would have won all of Clinton's voters, plus the support of these “Bernie-or-Bust” voters, and win the electoral college as a result, and thus the presidency.
With so much debate over hypotheticals, you'd almost think whoever won would get to be President for real. But with no way to test their claims in an actual campaign setting, bloggers and pundits aren't likely to stop shouting at each other any time soon.
A look ahead
Although he prefers not to talk about the 2020 Presidential Election just yet,[note 5] the most popular elected official in the United States is certainly making it look like he's ready for another run, and his supporters seem ready for it. His age is not an issue.[note 6] By late 2017, he made preparations by boosting his credentials, addressing weak spots (especially in foreign policy), working with his fellow Senators to craft policy (like Medicare For All), and engaging in productive conversations on various issues of genuine importance to voters. He has been visiting dozens of states across the country voters cast their ballots in 2016, especially those Trump won. In late January, 2018, Sanders hosted a town hall on his universal healthcare proposal, called Medicare-for-all. It attracted a live audience of over a million people. Perhaps unsurprisingly, more and more Democrats are in favor of this proposal, signaling a significant shift. A poll conducted by a nonpartisan think tank reveals that a majority of Americans support major reforms to the American healthcare system. Specifically, 59% support Sanders' Medicare-for-all proposal and 75% favor a public option or expansion of Medicare.
He held rallies in the Midwest against Trump's new tax plan, which gives more tax cuts to the rich than the poor. In March, 2018, he hosted another town hall, this time on economic inequality, which attracted even more live viewers, about 1.7 million in total. In an opinion piece published on The Guardian, Sanders warns that the media's obsessions with Russia and Trump's private affairs are distracting people from the issues that are actually important, namely economic inequality, something he can never stress enough.
In late February, Sanders joined two other Senators, one Democrat and one Republican, in an attempt to end U.S. military involvement in the Yemeni Civil War using the War Powers Act of 1973. Though ultimately unsuccessful, albeit by a narrow margin, this demonstrates his prudence and consistency in matters of foreign policy; he favors a less interventionist approach.
A recently published analysis of well over 500 cities worldwide shows that over a hundred of them are at least 70% powered by renewable energy. One of them is Burlington, Vermont, which reached the 100% benchmark in 2015, the first American city to have done so. Since he was its mayor, he could certainly take advantage of that connection, reminding voters that a complete break from fossil fuels is anything but a pipe dream. Market analysis shows that the renewable energy sector has been growing steadily, despite the efforts of Donald Trump to curtail it in favor of "beautiful clean coal". In 2018, Georgetown, Texas, became the largest American city to be 100% powered by renewable energy. Given that its mayor is a Republican, the issue of transitioning to renewable energy needs not be partisan.
He voiced his support sensible gun control legislation at a student protest in Washington, D.C., some weeks after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The crowd welcomed him enthusiastically.
Despite his defeat in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination, support from the Gentleman from Vermont has become a valuable asset for ambitious Democrats seeking to run for political office in the 2018 midterm elections, and presumably the ones after that. Sanders recently announced that he will release a book titled Where We Go From Here, detailing his vision for the future of the progressive movement. While not everyone agrees with his ideas, as is expected in a democracy, public opposition against Sanders on the Internet is dramatically exaggerated. A recent fight on Twitter over Bernie Sanders reveals an entire network of fake accounts, using pictures and personal details of the dead or unknown living people.[note 7] Whether we like it or not, social media networks are playing an increasingly important role in political discourse, and so far, that their influence has not always been positive.
Authenticity and consistency remain the driving engines of his rising popularity.
- For the curious, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is the least popular.
- Various sources have disagreed as to what Sanders means by this: does Sanders mean that he is a "democratic socialist", or that he is a Democrat and a socialist? Either way, it's probably more accurate to say that Sanders is a social democrat, given his support for the Nordic model. This may seem pedantic, but it does actually make a difference, especially when comparing to European politics – the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, for instance, as Corbyn comes from a traditional Labourite/socialist background
"Bernie Is Not a Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist". The Atlantic. March 1, 2016.
On the other hand Bernie Sanders supports employee ownership and workplace democracy, which are standard positions amongst libertarian-minded socialists so it seems that he's somewhere between the mainstream left and the radical left
- The fastest train in the United States today is Amtrak's Acela Express, with a top speed of 150 mph (240 km/h), making it slow compared to high-speed trains currently in service in other countries, such as France (the TGV) or Japan (Shinkansen).
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who would subsequently resign in disgrace as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN's Jake Tapper: "Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don't have to be in a position where they are running against grass-roots activists." We need more questions like this one from Jake Tapper to Debbie Wasserman Schultz
- After all, the nation just had an election!
- He maintains an active and healthy lifestyle, unlike Donald Trump the incumbent President of the United States.
- Red China is using similar tactics as a new form of censorship. They may not delete or ban critical views outright, given that the people behind them maybe overseas, beyond Communist jurisdiction, but they will swarm them with pro-government contents.
- Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of the UK Labour Party who shares many similarities with Sanders.
- Justice Democrats, a new political movement from after the 2016 US Presidential Election that seeks to infiltrate the Democratic Party and force out the "establishment." Many former Sanders campaign staff are part of the group, and it could be seen as the reformed Sanders movement. 
- The Koch Brothers, who Sanders mentions in many of his speeches and interviews.
- Bernie Sanders' Huffington Post posts.
- Bernie Sanders' Medium posts.
- Bernie Sanders' OpEd News posts.
- Post-election interview: Bernie Sanders In A Candid Conversation With Sarah Silverman.
- Bernie Sanders on what the U.S. can learn from the Canadian healthcare system.
- Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live.
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- "Is Bernie Sanders a Democrat?".
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- Who Is Bernie Sanders? Feelthebern.org.
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- "What Can We Learn From Denmark?". The Huffington Post. 26 May 2013.
- "Actual socialist Bernie Sanders: No, Obama is not a socialist". rawstory.com.
- Noam Chomsky on Clinton vs Sanders "Noam Chomsky on Clinton vs Sanders". Upfront. (Al Jazeera English). January 30, 2016.
- "Snowden deserves leniency, Sanders says".
- "Hillary Clinton was a more effective lawmaker than Bernie Sanders".
- "Congress’s only socialist becomes a bipartisan dealmaker," MSNBC.
- "Cruz, Sanders face off on Obamacare", CNN'.
- "Bernie Sanders on Martin Luther King Jr." 17 Jan 2016 – via YouTube.
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- "Here's What Bernie Sanders Actually Did in the Civil Rights Movement". Mother Jones.
- "Bernie Sanders meets with 'long-time friend' Jesse Jackson" observer.com.
- John Nichols (14 August 2011). "Bernie Sanders Talks Up Primary Challenge to Obama as ‘a Good Idea for Our Democracy and for the Democratic Party’". The Nation.
- George Zornick (19 February 2016). "Yes, Bernie Sanders Wanted Obama Primaried in 2012. Here’s Why.". The Nation.
- Ackerman, Seth. Give the People What They Want. Jacobin. June 29, 2015.
- "The Urgency of a Moral Economy: Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Centesimus Annus". 15 April 2016.
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- "Bernie Sanders once urged abolishing CIA - POLITICO". POLITICO.
- "Bernie Sanders + Noam Chomsky on Foreign Policy (5/20/1985)". 21 July 2015 – via YouTube.
- Clare Foran. "The Foreign Travels of Bernie Sanders". The Atlantic.
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- "Burlington to get sister city". The Lewiston Journal. (Associated Press). August 23, 1988.
- CNN, Eugene Scott. "Sanders accuses Israel of 'disproportionate' response in Gaza".
- Cassidy, John (15 April 2016). "The Democratic Debate: A Surprising Exchange on Israel" – via The New Yorker.
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- Zaid Jilani. "Bernie Sanders Was for Full Gay Equality 40 Years Ago". (June 26, 2015). Alternet.
- Forgive him for the "lifestyles" comment: it was 1983!
Paul Heintz. "32 Years Before SCOTUS Decision, Sanders Backed Gay Pride March". (June 30, 2015). Seven Days (Vermont).
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- "Senators to Obama: Time to Evolve". (June 23, 2011). Advocate.
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- "The Voter's Self Defense System".
- "Sanders Discusses Deficit Commission and 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (WCAX)" 3:45–4:15.
- "Public Notes on 10-HR1283".
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- "House Votes on 1999-346".
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- "Americans overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders’ economic policies — so how’d we end up here?".
- Poll chart
- "Bernie Sanders Is the Most Popular Politician in America, Poll Says".
- "Donald Trump is the most unpopular presidential candidate since the former head of the Ku Klux Klan". Washington Post
- Philip Elliott / Charleston, S.C.. "Why Bernie Sanders Is Struggling to Win Over Black Voters". TIME.com.
- Janell Ross (4 February 2016). "Bernie Sanders’s real problem with black and Hispanic voters". Washington Post.
- "Clinton Is Winning The States That Look Like The Democratic Party". 15 April 2016.
- "19 Examples of Bernie Sanders' Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights Since the 1950s". Alternet.
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- Dan; Siddiqui, Sabrina; Gambino, Lauren (20 April 2016). "Hillary Clinton wins decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in New York primary", NBC: Huge Split Between Older and Younger Blacks in the Democratic Primary
- John Nichols (19 June 2015). "Ready for Warren Becomes Ready to Fight and Backs Bernie Sanders". The Nation.
- Obama boys, you see. Yes, she really did go there...
"WOW. Before the "Bernie Bro," Clinton supporters created the "Obama boy." No, seriously.". Daily Kos.
- Hess, Amanda (February 3, 2016). "Everyone Is Wrong About the Bernie Bros; How a necessary critique of leftist sexism deteriorated into a dumb flame war.". Slate.
- Meyer, Robinson (February 5, 2016). "It's Not Just Berniebros I coined the term—now I've come back to fix what I started.". The Atlantic.
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- Clinton-Shilling Journalists Should Stop Slamming the Bernie Bros
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- "Has Clinton’s Move to the Left Backfired?".
- "Why Did Bernie Sanders Put an Obama-Hater on the Democratic Platform Committee?". 24 May 2016.
- "Democrats just approved a draft of their party platform, and Bernie Sanders' influence is clear".
- Dan Roberts in Philadelphia, Ben Jacobs in Washington and Alan Yuhas in New York (July 25, 2016). "Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign as DNC chair as email scandal rocks Democrats". The Guardian.
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- Just look at his website
- "Henry Kissinger’s War Crimes Are Central to the Divide Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders". The Intercept.
- Zack Beauchamp (12 February 2016). "Bernie Sanders is right: Hillary Clinton praising Henry Kissinger is outrageous". Vox.
- Matthew Rozsa. "The senator who won't shoot straight: What Bernie Sanders gets wrong about gun control". Salon.
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- Beckett, Lois (14 April 2016). "'Small victory' for Sandy Hook families in battle to hold gunmakers to account". The Guardian.
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- "Bernie Sanders" Bernie Sanders.
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- For example... See the Wikipedia article on Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
- Interview Meet the Press Politico
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- S. 852 (113th): Veterans' Health Promotion Act of 2013, GovTrack.us
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- A new poll found that a majority of Americans support a radical change to the US healthcare system Business Insider. March 28, 2018.
- Sanders Will Hit Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin to Slam Tax Cuts. CNN. February 15, 2018.
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- More than 100 cities now mostly powered by renewable energy, data shows. The Guardian. February 27, 2018.
- Trump Can't Derail Renewable Energy Push. Bloomberg. March 11, 2018.
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- How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts. Huffington Post. March 14, 2018.
|United States 2016 presidential election articles on RationalWiki|
| Topics: Affordable Care Act - Citizens United v. FEC - DAESH - Gun control - Illegal immigration - Koch Industries - United States Electoral College - Trump's Wall
Parties: Democratic Party (primaries) - Green Party - Libertarian Party - Republican Party (primaries • Convention • Tea Party)
Candidates: Bush (R) - Carson (R) - Christie (R) - Clinton (D) - Cruz (R) - Huckabee (R) - Jindal (R) - Johnson (Lib) - Kasich (R) - Paul (R) - Perry (R) - Sanders (D) - Stein (Green) - Trump (R) - Walker (R) - Webb (D) • Running mates: Kaine (D) - Pence (R)
Winner: Donald Trump