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Bernie Sanders on Life as Congress' Longest-Serving Independent

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 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the longest-serving independent in American congressional history. He’s made a name for himself by criticizing corporate excess and pushing for more transparency in campaign finances – he once delivered a filibuster against the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for more than eight hours. He joins us to talk about economic justice, his boycott of the recent Netanyahu speech and his thoughts about running for president in 2016.

Interview Highlights

On Running for President

"I'm thinking that a time when the middle class in this country is disappearing and we have massive income and wealth inequality, when we're the only country on earth — major country — that doesn't have health care for all, when we have a campaign finance system that is leading us to oligarchy, when climate change is threatening the entire planet – you know what I think? I think we need some candidates to stand up and represent the working families of this country and the middle class and those of us who are concerned about the environment. So to answer your question – yeah, I am thinking about running for president."

On Being a Third-Party Spoiler

"I will not be a spoiler. So one of the decisions I have to make is a) whether I run or not and b) whether you run within the Democratic primary system. I have participated in the Democratic caucus as an independent since I've been in congress and worked very closely with senator Harry Reid, who is the Democratic leader, was the chairman of the Veteran's Committee, ranking member now of the Budget Committee, so I've worked within the Democratic caucus for a long time. And that is one of the decisions I have to make. But – I will not play the role of a spoiler, that's for sure."


Bernie Sanders, U.S. senator (I-Vermont), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and ranking Democratic member on the Senate Budget Committee


On Hillary Clinton's Personal Email Controversy

"I think the issue is what does Hillary Clinton – what are her views on the important issues facing this country? What are her views on the Keystone pipeline and climate change? What are her views on raising the minimum wage to a living wage? What are her views on trade? What are her views on national health care? What are her views on the ability of workers to be able to better organize into unions? What are her views on higher education and the cost of that? That is what I think what we have got to focus on and I think the country deserves a serious debate on those and many other issues."

On Revolution

“What we need in this country, is in fact, a political revolution. And that means as citizens of this country people have got to redefine their relationship to our government and what they’ve got to say is ‘Enough is enough.’ They’ve got to be active in ways that we have not been active before. So calling up this radio station is a good start. Writing letters to the editor demanding that your local state and national representatives start talking to you about the real issues – putting together meetings so that people know in fact what is going on, demanding the media start covering the real issues facing this country, and holding people accountable. We are not going to change America when 63 percent of the people don’t vote as was the case in this last midterm election. And we’re not going to change America if all we see on television in terms of politics are thirty second ads. So we have got to educate, we have got to organize, every community will do it differently. … We have got to get involved politically, and raise political consciousness in a way we have never done.”

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