WITH Bernie Sanders weighing in on the Scottish independence debate for the first time, what does the US Senator believes in and what he might have done as president?

Sanders ran for the nomination of presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2020 although lost out to eventual winner Joe Biden, who he endorsed after suspending his campaign. 

The National have pulled together a handy list of where Sanders stands on six key issues. 

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Scottish independence 

Speaking in 2020, Bernie Sanders’s older brother Larry, who works as a Green activist in the UK, said he thought the US politician would be “favourable” to Scottish independence were he to become the President.

This would have been in contrast to Barack Obama who once expressed a pro-Union view in 2014. 

Speaking to Sky News, Sanders was asked what his “gut” feeling on the issue was and he replied: “I very much appreciate what the people of Scotland have done, what they’re fighting for, and my initial thought, not being an expert, if they want to go their own way they should be allowed to.”

He then jokingly told Sophy Ridge: “Don’t tell anybody I said that”.

The SNP said that Sanders’s views showed that “any true democrat can see it is for the people of Scotland, not politicians, to decide their future”. 

Right to free education 

Writing an opinion piece for Fortune during his 2020 presidential campaign, Sanders said: “Education must be an economic right for all, not a privilege for the few.”

His plan at the time included a $2.2 trillion plan to make college free and included paying off all student loans for around 45 million Americans, regardless of their income or assets. 

It’s a policy similar to what is in place in Scotland where students do not have to pay tution fees for further education at university or college. 

The National: Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden (above) to be US PresidentBernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden (above) to be US President

In April 2021, Sanders introduced a bill that would have made college education free. 

“In the wealthiest country in the world, a higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few”, he said. 

Access to healthcare 

Much like his beliefs on education, Sanders does not think that people’s access to healthcare should be constrained by their financial circumstances. 

While campaigning to become the Democrat's US presidential candidate, he proposed that all Americans would receive government-run health insurance, which he said would cost around $30tn over the space of a decade. 

In his interview with Sky News, he warned that the UK following the US on healthcare is the “wrong direction” and hailed the NHS as “revolutionary”.

READ MORE: Bernie Sanders: Reaction as US Senator backs Scottish independence

He said: “Whether you’re rich or poor you have a right to go to a doctor and not take out your wallet. 

“In the United States, the function of healthcare in America is not to provide quality care to all, it’s to make billions for the insurance companies.”

He added that Labour's plans to introduce more private companies to alleviate pressure on the NHS made him "nervous". 

Climate Change

During a speech to the US Senate in September last year, Sanders described climate change as “the most serious challenge facing our country and the entire world today”.

He added: “That’s not just Bernie Sanders talking. That’s what the scientific community is telling us in a virtually unanimous voice.”

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Sanders called on his country to act in reducing emissions and said that the planet was facing “enormous and irreversible damage”.

He also spoken of some of the severe weather that the US has faced over the past decade as well as the historically hot weather which hit the UK last summer. 

Background checks on gun ownership

There were 674 incidents in which four or more people were killed in a shooting in mass shootings in the US in 2022, a small decrease from the record 690 incidents in 2021. 

Data from February 20 2023 showed there have already been 80 such events this year alone. 

Despite voting against background checks for gun transactions in Congress back in 1993, Sanders has since campaigned for these measures. 

His website reads: “When we are in the White House, we will move aggressively to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and pass the common sense gun safety legislation that the overwhelming majority of Americans want.”

Democratic Socialist 

Sanders has previously described himself as a “democratic socialist” although has become comfortable with just “socialist”.

“I am a socialist and everyone knows it”, he once said.

Speaking in 2015, he framed his political ideology this way: “Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy.”

As part of this ideology, he wanted to double the federal minimum wage in the US and increase taxes on the wealthy.