Bernie Sanders makes it official

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing a rally on Capitol Hill in 2013. Photo credit: JTA
Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing a rally on Capitol Hill in 2013.
Photo via JTA

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will challenge Hillary Clinton from the left in the Democratic primaries for the 2016 presidential election. The self-described “democratic socialist” made the announcement on Thursday at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol.

“This country today has more serious crises than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. For most Americans, their reality is that they are working longer hours for lower wages,” said Sanders, sounding the theme of income inequality that will be a major issue of his campaign.

Sanders has also advocated for action on climate change, a transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare, implementing a national health care system, a major jobs program that would rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and defeating the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Clinton has taken a cautious approach to President Barack Obama’s trade deal. A former first lady, senator and secretary of state, she holds a wide lead among potential Democratic voters.

In response to a reporter’s question about why he would make a better contender than Clinton, Sanders mentioned his vote against the war in Iraq, his efforts against TPP and his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sanders said that he is in the election to win it.

“We have got to stand together as a people and say that this Capitol, our beautiful Capitol, our country, belongs to all of us and not the billionaire class,” said Sanders.

Sanders, 73, was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn and identifies as culturally Jewish. In 1964, Sanders worked for several months on an Israeli kibbutz.

According to an article in Religion News Service, “Sanders’ version of socialism is rooted in 20th-century Jewish-American leftist politics, which organized for better working conditions and wages, equality for women, and civil rights for African-Americans, among other causes.”

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Related: Vermont senator eyes 2016 presidential contest
                 Dems ready for Hillary

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