Ask me anything. I'll start answering questions around 5:30 p.m. ET.


Update: Hi everyone. Thanks for your questions.

Update: Thanks very much, we're going to conclude in a few minutes and take a couple more questions.

Update: We received a whole lot of questions. I thank you all very much for your interest and look forward to doing an AMA again in the not too distant future.

Comments: 1662 • Responses: 20  • Date: 

necrotica734 karma

What do you think of the Yale Princeton University/Northwestern University research paper that says America is no longer a Democracy but a Oligarchy?

For Reference:

EDIT: Sorry for the wrong Universities listed, was in a hurry and had certain names in my head while typing and typed what I was thinking in the back of my mind instead of what I was reading at the time

SenSanders1405 karma

I believe that's true. When you have the top 1 percent of the country owning 38 percent of the financial wealth, when you have billionaires now able to contribute unlimited amounts of money into the political process, when you have 95 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent in recent years, I think one can say that reflects an oligarchic society.

Lizardking13643 karma

What are your views on Net Neutrality?

SenSanders1443 karma

I strongly support net neutrality and will do everything I can to maintain it, including opposing the recent FCC proposal. The Internet is an incredibly important and democratic tool. All people, whether you are a multi-national corporation or a small business, whether you are The New York Times or a small blog, should have access to the same Internet speed.

immorta1512 karma

How much money do you estimate corporations have given you/your campaigns?

And what did they ask you to do in return?

SenSanders2028 karma

I raise money very differently than other candidates. A recent study showed that I raised more money from small donors, tens of thousands of them, than any other U.S. senator. Also, throughout my political career I have not accepted money from corporate PACs. I don't represent large corporations and I don't want their money.

the_slunk503 karma

You said it's virtually impossible to pass legislation that Wall St. doesn't sign off on. 60minutes recently reported (and were not refuted) that Wall St. is "rigged." How can we ever reign in Wall St. if the fox is guarding the henhouse?

SenSanders1095 karma

Excellent question. We gotta throw out the foxes. I don't mean to be too revolutionary here but I think we need to have a Congress which represents ordinary people and not just the billionaire class, Wall Street and multi-national corporations. To accomplish that goal, we need massive grassroots organizing efforts so that ordinary people play a much greater role in the political process than is currently the case. In the coming election, it is estimated that only 40 percent of the American people will vote. That is unacceptable.

Vermonty_Python403 karma

What would you have to say to all those people who have given up on our current political system (in all it's broken, money-influenced, ineffective glory) and have sworn that they won't/don't vote?

There are millions of disheartened voters out there, distraught with cynicism and pessimism. It's difficult to remain hopeful in this political landscape, especially considering how disappointing Obama's re-election turned out to be. Can you give us a reason to be hopeful and passionate again?

EDIT: I'm gonna' use my time in the limelight to plug /r/SandersForPresident. While in no way affiliated or endorsed by the Senator and his staff, we strive to spread awareness, information, and support for Bernie Sanders. Ultimately, we hope that he will announce his candidacy for President, and when that day comes, we want to have a large, passionate community to help his cause. Please join us, regardless if you fully support him or not. At the very least, maybe you'll learn something new about his (and other like-minded politicians') values.

SenSanders963 karma

My answer is pretty simple. Given the enormous problems facing our country, the fact that we are moving toward an oligarchic society and the fact that we are not addressing the planetary crisis of climate change, it is unacceptable for anybody to throw their hands up in despair and turn away from the political process. Historically in this country, people have fought and died to end racism and segregation, to fight for women's rights, gay rights, workers's rights, and no generation has a right to turn its back on the political process and not participate.

jajasayeed300 karma

Hi Senator Sanders,

I was wondering if you were familiar with the work of Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor who has been working towards enacting fundamental campaign finance reform. He has recently launched a citizens' funded and crowd sourced superPAC, MayDayPAC, with the ultimate goal of ending superPACs, and enacting fundamental campaign finance reform.

Specifically, I'd like to know if you agree with Lessig's assertion that no sensible reform is ever going to be possible, on almost any issue, climate change, food safety, financial reform, etc., without first addressing the way campaigns are funded and the dependence of our legislature on the tiniest fraction of the wealthy for funding. In this sense, the corruptive and corrosive influence of unlimited funding by the tiniest fraction of wealthiest among us is at the root of much of the issues our country currently faces.

P.S. Lessig has some truly inspiring TED talks on the subject of campaign finance if you are so inclined, and the link to his superPAC can be found at:

Thanks for reading,


SenSanders592 karma

Yes I am. I invited Professor Lessig to a hearing that I chaired and have great respect for his work. In my view, Citizens United is one of the worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court and is having a devastating impact on our democracy. I have introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and, as I mentioned, believed we must move toward public funding of elections. If we don't get a handle on the absurd campaign financing system we have today, more and more candidates will get elected who represent the interests of the billionaires who fund those candidates rather than the needs of working families and the middle class.

LoveAllHarmNone207 karma

What do you think of a Basic Income Guarantee if/when unemployment rises due to automation?

SenSanders353 karma

I think that as a nation we should be deeply troubled by the fact that we have more people living in poverty today than ever before and that millions of seniors are finding it difficult to survive on about $1,200 a month from Social Security. I think we need to take a very hard look at why real income has gone down for millions of Americans despite a huge increase in productivity. In my view, every American is entitled to at least a minimum standard of living. There are different ways to get to that goal, but that's the goal that we should strive to reach.

kc_socialist202 karma

What are your opinions on workplace democracy and worker controlled industries? Would supporting these types of co-operative enterprises over hierarchal capitalist ones be a key part of your program if you were to run for president in 2016?

SenSanders359 karma

The answer is yes. Ironically, I just met a few hours ago with Vermonters who work in ESOPs and worker-owned companies. They tell me that when workers are involved in owning their own companies they feel better about their jobs, productivity is up, absenteeism is down. I have introduced several pieces of legislation which would make it easier for companies to become worker-owned. This is an issue I feel very strongly about.

ThorThe12th191 karma

If you could pass any piece of legislation without any opposition which would it be and why?

SenSanders514 karma

That's a tough question because there are so many important issues out there. If we don't address the crisis of climate change, there will be devastating damage to the planet, so that issue must be addressed. For many decades now, I have been a strong advocate of a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. It would be an enormous step forward for American if we had a health care system that guaranteed health care for all people as a right. That's something I have fought for for years and will continue to fight for.

Frajer167 karma

How do we get out of the 2 party system?

SenSanders380 karma

I am the longest serving independent in the history of the U.S. Congress. In my political career, I have defeated Democrats, defeated Republicans and defeated candidates who had the support of both parties. In Burlington, Vt., we still have a strong third party and Vermont I believe has the strongest Progressive Party in the United States. Having said that, it would be naive to believe that it would be easy to start an effective third party nationally. It would require an enormous amount of work and very difficult obstacles would have to be overcome. It could be done but it's not easy.

wlkngnthfrnk167 karma

Corporate criminals are not tried as harshly (or at all) for crimes which often have the impact of causing more societal harm than most murderers, rapists, or drug lords ever could. Because of this, I'm afraid that there is a class of society which is, effectively, above the law. In one way or another, my family and friends have been affected negatively (to put it mildly), as innocent bystanders to other people's "success." With a real lack of corporate accountability in the United States, how can we expect entities, like Walmart, to manage their operations in a way which take into account environmental performance, social responsibility, and sustainability?

SenSanders307 karma

There is no question but that the rich and powerful live under a different system of justice than ordinary Americans. If you are a Wall Street executive who engaged in reckless and illegal behavior which helped crash the economy leading to massive unemployment and human suffering, your bank may have to pay a fine but nothing happens to you. If you're a kid smoking marijuana or snorting cocaine, you may end up in jail for years. The truth is that the billionaire class with all of its power and all of their lawyers can protect themselves very effectively from criminal prosecution.

rangerheart0164 karma

Hey Senator Sanders, thanks for taking your time to do this AMA.

What do you think is the best way to lower the cost of higher education for the long term?

Thanks for your time

SenSanders410 karma

That is a great question and one that I am asked virtually every day in Vermont. The fact is that an increasingly large number of young people are no longer thinking about going to college because of the high cost while others are leaving college with enormous debt. One of my staffers has been paying off her debt for the last 15 years and still has years to go. In my view, we have to No. 1 lower interest rates on student loans and No. 2 and even more importantly we have got to recognize that it is essential for the future of our country that all Americans, regardless of income, are able to get a higher education if they have the ability and desire. There is much to be learned from a number of European countries which provide free college and graduate school education. They understand that it is in the best interests of their country to have the best educated workforce possible. I will be introducing a major piece of legislation which will substantially reduce the cost of college education for the students of our country. It is absurd that one out of four major corporations pays nothing in federal income taxes, and yet millions of young people are finding it hard to pay for college.

larryinwisconsin138 karma

Senator Sanders,

I'm a three tour OIF veteran and a disabled veteran. I am a huge fan of yours, and couldn't be happier that you are the chair of the Veterans Affairs committee. I notice from interacting with other veterans on social media and in person that most veterans tend to be conservative. This is kind of ridiculous to me considering the voting record for most GOP lawmakers is pretty poor when it comes to veterans issues. How do we get more veterans over to our side?

SenSanders243 karma

Let me just say this. As chairman of the veterans' committee, I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans that can never be fully repaid. Just one example: As a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 200,00 men and women came home with ptsd and traumatic brain injury. Our job is to make sure that all veterans from all generations get the quality health care they need and the other benefits to which they are entitled. I would say that I was extremely disappointed that when I recently introduced a major veterans bill supported by virtually all of the veterans organizations, I was only able to get two Republican votes. So I would hope that all veterans study the issues hard and see who is and is not voting for their interests.

ready4bernie123 karma

Hello Senator,

I'm a young American, just out of college with limited options. I've listened to your speeches and I've seen your work on Capitol Hill. I think that you're the man to help my generation pursue the lives that we were born for. I try to spread news about you on Social Media ( but I know that isn't much. What else can someone is my position do to help you take your message nation-wide and what can I do to help convince you to run in 2016?

SenSanders203 karma

Thank you very much for your support. And I very much appreciate your spreading the message on social media. What has got to be understood is that the ideas that I have and other progressive members of Congress have, do not get out easily through the corporate media. If we're going to be successful in educating and organizing we have got to be extremely creative and aggressive in terms of social media. In terms of the possibility of me running for president, I thank you very much for your support. The decision whether I do it or not is not going to be an easy one because I would clearly be up against people who, among other things, would have unlimited financial resources. During the next many months, I will try to ascertain whether there is the kind of grassroots support to make a campaign viable. Thanks again for your support.

lfisher2k95 karma

why are politicians so afraid of the word "socialist" when so many aspects of the government are socialist policies? Is this just cold war tensions that never healed?

SenSanders189 karma

I think the Cold War has a lot to do with the "anti-socialist" mentality of many politicians. But it goes deeper than that. At a time when the Koch brothers and other powerful forces want to privatize or eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Postal Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs and public education, these powerful forces surely do not want to see a society created where we have strong public institutions that protect the interests of working families and the middle class. In countries like Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and other social democratic countries, enormous achievements have been made in providing health care, education, child care and strong retirement benefits to all people regardless of income. They also have poverty rates which are much lower than ours. In my view, there is much to be learned from the democratic socialism that has existed in those countries for decades.

SucculentFriend93 karma


SenSanders254 karma

It saddens me that many Republicans think that the only way they can win elections is by having the Koch brothers and other billionaires spend huge sums of money for their campaigns and that they have to gerrymander districts or impose strict voter suppression laws. Frankly, I think all of that is cowardly. If you can't win elections by defending your ideas and allowing all people to vote, then you shouldn't run for office.

DeathChess82 karma

As a small business owner, why should I move to Vermont?

SenSanders189 karma

In my admittedly prejudiced opinion, I believe that Vermont is one of the most beautiful states in the country from both a natural landscape point of view as well as the sense of community we have. If you want to raise your family in a progressive state which is leading the country in human rights and ending discrimination, in health care, in combating global warming, in the labeling of GMOs and in many other areas, Vermont would be a great place to start a small business and bring up a family.

rxn101279 karma

I read a recent article about how Vermont is the first state to propose a bill to get money out of politics, what are you thoughts on that?

SenSanders145 karma

I believe that if we are to consider ourselves a democratic society in which all people can equally help shape public policy, we must absolutely end the current situation in which, because of Citizens United, billionaires can buy elections. I strongly believe in public funding of elections where candidates win or lose based on their ideas, not on whether they have the backing of the Koch brothers or other billionaires.

-ThomasJefferson-62 karma

Hey Bernie!

On a less serious note, what's your favorite restaurant in Burlington? I'm headed there this summer and I would like to eat at a senator approved establishment!


SenSanders140 karma

My family and I often go to Bove's restaurant, an Italian restaurant that we have frequented for about 30 years in downtown Burlington. It's not fancy but the food is good and the prices are reasonable.

Vermonty_Python41 karma

Hey Senator Sanders! Proud Vermonter here! Thanks for taking the time out of your work-week to pay us all a visit.

I have two questions, and I hope you can answer them all:

  • Did you pay attention to the Occupy movement? What did you think about the liberal/leftist side of the American people standing up and shouting? And what suggestions would you have to make a similar movement more effective in the future?

  • Given your (and Elizabeth Warren's) growing presence on the internet, do you think this nation is finally swinging back from the corrupt, corporate oligarchy it has been in for the last few decades?

EDIT: I'm gonna' use my time in the limelight to plug /r/SandersForPresident. While in no way affiliated or endorsed by the Senator and his staff, we strive to spread awareness, information, and support for Bernie Sanders. Ultimately, we hope that he will announce his candidacy for President, and when that day comes, we want to have a large, passionate community to help his cause. Please join us, regardless if you fully support him or not. At the very least, maybe you'll learn something new about his (and other like-minded politicians') values.

SenSanders77 karma

I certainly did pay a lot of attention to Occupy Wall Street and have been very supportive of their efforts. They raised two powerful points which have, I believe, gotten a whole lot of traction. First, the incredible power of Wall Street, where five out of the six largest banks that we bailed out because they were "too big to fail" are all bigger today than when we bailed them out. Second of all, the Occupy movement talked about income and wealth inequality, an issue which we are hearing more and more about every day. In my view, the great moral, economic and political issue of our day is the growing income and wealth inequality which we have. If we are to avoid becoming an oligarchic form of society, this is an issue that must be dealt with.