Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, said that his candidacy has the potential to powerfully transform the Democratic Party on major issues of substance and that simply beating President Donald Trump in 2020 is not enough, NBC News reports.
Sanders made his remarks on Meet the Press, firmly contradicting recent statements by former Vice President Joe Biden, who is also in the running for the Democratic nomination for 2020. Biden had been very clear in a Philadelphia campaign appearance, where he described beating Trump as the “most important plank” of his environmental policy.
Sanders argued that environmental policy needs to go far behind that.
“Beating Trump is not good enough. You have to beat the fossil fuel industry, you have to take on all the forces of the status quo who do not want to move this country to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” he said during the appearance. “Taking on Trump? Of course you’ve got to do that. But you need a real plan to transform our energy system.”
That said, Sanders pulled no punches in his characterization of Trump and the threat that he poses now and potentially through a second term in office. Sanders called the current president “the most dangerous” in modern American history.
The Vermont senator also made the case for his own candidacy, again going beyond the idea of simply being the person to defeat Trump. Sanders claimed to bring a new coalition to the ballot box, building on the foundation of a new progressive agenda that includes health care, wages, and education.
“We’re going to create the kind of excitement that we need to bring out the large voter turnout,” he said. “The truth is that our campaign, I think, can generate that excitement.”
Biden’s ideas again strike a stark contrast to those of Sanders, as the former vice president focused more on Trump than on his own platform. He has also expressed his desire for a return to bipartisan cooperation, a concept that many have given up as a lost cause in modern American politics. When pressed on the substantial divide between the parties of late, Biden has remained optimistic. In fact, he has gone so far as to suggest that, in the absence of Trump, his Republican colleagues would experience an “epiphany” and return to a more cooperative and civilized approach to politics.
The stakes, according to Biden, are high. He suggests that without consensus, the nation will not continue to function.