Win McNamee/Getty Images
by Seija Rankin | Thu., Apr. 30, 2015 2:45 PM
Win McNamee/Getty Images
The 2016 presidential race just got a little more crowded. This morning Bernie Sanders announced his bid to run, becoming the first official competition to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Unless you've been paying really close attention to the political landscape, there's a good chance you're wondering just who the heck Sanders is. He's certainly less of a famous name than much of the other candidates (especially when you're dealing with Clintons and Bushes), but it's important to get the 411 on everyone involved in this sure-to-be-monumental race.
As such, below are some basic facts about Sanders' history and his stance on his most coveted issues. Consider it your Bernie Sanders cheat sheet—and prepare to learn even more as the action gets underway.
He's currently a United States Senator: Sanders is the junior Senator from Vermont, a post he's held since 2007.
He's not actually a Democrat (even though he's running in the Democratic primary): He is a self-described "democratic Independent." (He also happens to be the longest-serving independent member of congress in U.S. history).
He's positioning himself as the anti-candidate: He's long criticized the Washington, D.C. establishment and he prides himself on being, well, old school. No flashy announcement video or Facebook post for this guy, just a simple e-mail to his supporters. He reiterated his point by writing "This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It's about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: ‘Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.'"
He's in favor of raising taxes: The politician has long been in favor of an increased minimum wage, expanded social security benefits and a single-payer healthcare system. The way he proposes achieving all that? Taxes.
His liberalism is pretty well known in Washington: At this weekend's White House Correspondent's Dinner, Obama cracked about Sanders "Apparently people really want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all."
A negative campaign is not in the works: He also claims to have never run an attack ad in his life.
He supports same-sex marriage and plans to fight against climate change: He has spoken about the need for the Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage, as well as the need to enact measures against greenhouse gas emissions.
He's a long shot for president: Although well respected, Sanders is still relatively unknown in the public eye. According to a recent CBS News poll, 68 percent of the people said they didn't know enough about the candidate to vote for him. And his social media following pales in comparison to Hillary Clinton.
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