Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he is upset but not surprised by Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election, because the GOP business mogul’s campaign tapped into the real and justified anger that many feel about the status quo.
In a New York Times op-ed published Friday night, Sanders argued that Trump’s message was that the American people want change. But Sanders said he doubted that the president-elect would actually help working families and feared he would turn that anger against minorities, the poor and others.
“I will keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when and how we can work together,” he wrote. “Having lost the nationwide popular vote, however, he would do well to heed the views of progressives. If the president-elect is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families, I’m going to present some very real opportunities for him to earn my support.”’
As the Democratic Party picks up the pieces and tries to rebuild its brand and political infrastructure, many will look to leaders like Sanders, who became a progressive hero during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination. Indeed, Sanders has already become involved in the Democratic National Committee, backing Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to become its next chair. Sanders’ involvement is striking, since he was elected to the Senate as an independent, not a Democrat.
In his Friday op-ed, Sanders noted that he supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee who bested him in the primaries. He further vowed to present a series of changes that the Democratic Party can make to once again address what he sees as the grievances of many disenfranchised Americans, without scapegoating minorities or engaging in other forms of demagoguery.
“In the coming days, I will also provide a series of reforms to reinvigorate the Democratic Party,” he continued. “I believe strongly that the party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor.
“We must open the doors of the party to welcome in the idealism and energy of young people, and all Americans who are fighting for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We must have the courage to take on the greed and power of Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.”
When he suspended his presidential campaign, Sanders promised his supporters that their “political revolution” would endure. In his Friday op-ed, Sanders said that revolution “must happen.”
“We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world,” Sanders said. “When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.”
Trump’s victory over Clinton, who had been strongly favored in the polls, came as a shock to many people across the world. It was a moment of jubilation for many conservatives, especially among the loosely organized alt-right movement, and a moment of terror for many liberals, some of whom immediately kicked into protest mode and have been calling for the Electoral College to stop Trump from entering the Oval Office.