Bernie Sanders' Policies Explained: Climate Change, Student Loan Debt, Medicare For All Center of 2020 Campaign

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign has garnered significant support since it was formally announced on February 19, 2019.

A perusal of Sanders's rhetoric and campaign proposals reveals that he wants to implement policies that he believes will, according to his campaign website, "achieve economic, racial, social and environmental justice for all."

Sanders has been the junior senator from Vermont since 2007, but before that he represented the state in the House of Representatives and was the mayor of Burlington, the state's largest city. Although he is seeking the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party and caucuses with Democrats, in Congress Sanders' in an independent. In 2016, he ran an unsuccessful campaign to win the nomination over Hillary Clinton, who subsequently lost the electoral vote to now-President Donald Trump.

Sanders describes himself as a "democratic socialist," the only presidential candidate to do so. In a speech delivered at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2019, he made the case for democratic socialism and explained what it means to him.

"If there was ever a moment when we needed a new vision to bring our people together in the fight for justice, decency and human dignity, this is that time," he said in the speech. "Today in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion. ... We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. That is what I mean by democratic socialism."

Among the cornerstone policies Sanders supports is Medicare for All, a national health insurance plan for all Americans. As he tweeted on the day of his 2020 campaign announcement, Sanders believes that the U.S. government should "guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all program."

I’m running for president because the time is long overdue for the United States to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right, not a privilege, through a Medicare-for-all program.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 19, 2019

The senator has supported climate change legislation in the past, and is a proponent of the Green New Deal, a proposed package of legislation meant to combat climate change and wealth inequality simultaneously.

According to Sanders' campaign website, among the goals the candidate has with the Green New Deal is to "[c]ommit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States' leadership in the global fight against climate change."

Sanders also supports the right of workers to unionize and has taken a stand against what he sees as corporate greed, and has often decried the "one percent" for hoarding money to themselves and exerting undue influence in politics by donating to candidates who will protect their interests. His policies call for a complete ban on corporate contributions to the Democratic National Convention and "all related committees."

His message appears to have resonated with employees of massive corporations like Amazon, whose workers have donated a significant sum of money to the campaign in the months since it was launched.

Sanders has also pledged to tackle the student debt crisis, and has introduced a plan to eliminate all $1.6 trillion of Americans' outstanding student loans.

A full run-down of Sanders's policy stances can be found on his campaign's website.

Sanders takes the debate stage on Tuesday, along with fellow candidates senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, and former Vice President Joe Biden. The Iowa caucuses to decide whom the state's voters will nominate to represent the Democrats in the 2020 presidential election are set to take place on February 3.

 Sanders Holds Town Hall In Iowa
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Berg Middle School on January 11, 2020 in Newton, Iowa. Scott Olson/Getty