Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s rival for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination, claims that the party stopped listening to its traditional middle/working class constituency in favor of selling out to big-monied interests, and that led to its defeat at the hands of Donald Trump.
After a contentious primary, the self-described socialist, who ran for president as a Democrat, endorsed Hillary Clinton on July 12, 2016, in New Hampshire and campaigned for her during the general election season despite the WikiLeaks revelations that suggested that party insiders sought to undermine his campaign all along.
As the nominating convention in Philadelphia was winding down later in July, Sanders announced that he was returning to his roots as a political independent and leaving the Democratic Party upon resuming his day job in the U.S. Senate.
Sanders has vowed to hold the president-elect accountable for his promise that he would leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid intact.
In an interview with National Public Radio today, Sanders suggested that the Democrats are out of touch with middle class America, and it needs a new strategy moving forward that involves paying attention to the needs of what he described as the 99 percent.
“I happen to believe that the Democratic Party has been not doing a good job in terms of communicating with people in cities, in towns, and in rural America, all over this country. We’ve got to get out there…What the Democratic Party has got to do is start listening to the needs of the the middle class, the working families, lower income people, black and white and Latino, listen to the pain that is out there…”
According to Sanders, Donald Trump won the election, in part, because “we have millions of people who have given up on the political process, who don’t believe that Congress is listening to their pain. We have a middle class which is in decline…” If the American people aren’t actively involved in the political process, corporate interest like insurance companies, drug companies, Wall Street, and the fossil fuel industry will hold all the cards, Sanders added.
“Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections,” Sanders told NPR.
“That picks up on a criticism of Clinton devoting too much time to fundraising — and not enough to on-the-ground campaigning in traditionally Democratic states, like Michigan and Wisconsin,” NPR noted about the Rust Belt states that Trump flipped to his column.
“Clinton raised a total of $1.4 billion compared to Trump’s $932 million. Trump’s campaign also saw more small donations, classified as amounts $200 or less, which made up of over a fourth of his contributions. Small donations made up only 16 percent of Clinton’s campaign,” the International Business Times explained. Trump also self-funded his primary campaign during which he defeated 16 other rivals.
Underscoring that the Democrats strayed from their base and got out of touch with the working class, Sanders insisted the following.
“The Democratic Party swallowed the bait; they became hooked on big money. When you get hooked on big money, you’re not going to stand up to Wall Street or the insurance companies.”
As to whether he could have defeated Trump in a head-to-head matchup, Sanders declared that “The answer is I don’t know. Nobody knows. It’s not worth speculating about.”
On Monday night, the senator will participate in a nationally televised town hall on CNN about how opposition lawmakers will deal with the Trump administration. He is also leading a January 15 protest against GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, one of Trump’s primary campaign promises, and alleged changes to Medicare, which is not a component of the Trump agenda.
As far as the pending repeal of Obamacare is concerned, President Obama today suggested that Bernie Sanders and his progressive cohort are partially responsible for its continued unpopularity, Reuters reported.
“In the ‘dissatisfied’ column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted a single-payer plan. The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem is that they don’t think it went far enough and that it left too many people still uncovered,” the president said.
Listen to the Bernie Sanders NPR interview below.
A foe of income inequality and the one-percent elite, Bernie Sanders, 75, has been a member of Congress since 1991 (and a U.S. Senator since 2007) and voted for most of the Obama agenda over the past eight years. Prior to his election to the U.S. House, Bernie Sanders served eight years as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
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