Bernie Sanders, the longest-serving Independent (unaffiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans) ever in Congress, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1941. After losing several elections in Vermont as a third-party candidate, Sanders became the mayor of Burlington in 1981, and in 1990 became the first self-described socialist elected to Congress since Victor Berger and Meyer London seventy years earlier. Sanders served for eight terms before winning election to the Senate in 2005. He has been notable in opposing both Iraq wars, in seeking to keep commercial and investment banks separate, in advocating for single-payer health care, and in warning about the dangers of global climate change. In December, 2010, Sanders made a speech in the Senate for 8.5 hours protesting the extension of the Bush tax cuts for wealthy people. A 2011 poll showed Bernie Sanders, with an approval rating of 67 percent, to be the most popular member of the U.S. Senate.
“What Wall Street and credit card companies are doing is really not much different from what gangsters and loan sharks do who make predatory loans. While the bankers wear three-piece suits and don’t break the knee caps of those who can’t pay back, they still are destroying people’s lives.” —Bernie Sanders