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Bernie Sanders Gives Leadership Tips to Democrats Facing the Trump Era

Posted on Jan 10, 2017

Phil Roeder / Wikipedia

In preparation for the incoming Trump administration, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday offered his ideas about defending progressive social and economic agendas at a CNN-hosted town hall meeting in Washington, D.C.

“I will work with Trump on any issue that is sensible. But I will not work with Trump when he espouses bigotry and dividing us up,” Sanders said.

Considering the nomination process for the president-elect’s choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Sanders said, “We’re going to have to wait and see how that plays out.” He warned Democrats against borrowing Republicans’ recently deployed tactics for delaying a Supreme Court appointment, even though other progressives may be in favor of forming a blockade. As for Trump’s other appointments, Sanders said, “Before I vote against them, I want to hear what they’re going to say.”

But when it came to social policies like immigration, Sanders was less willing to compromise: “There are many of us in the Congress, not just Democrats or progressives, who will do everything that we can to protect those [undocumented] beautiful children.”

Sanders also took an unyielding approach to guarding the Affordable Care Act: “We are going to do everything that we can to improve the Affordable Care Act,” he said. It has problems. But we damn well are not going to have to see it repealed and have no replacement at all.”

During the town hall, Sanders took a moment to reflect on the Democratic Party’s failure to represent the working class in recent years. “When we talk about the greed on Wall Street and the deregulation on Wall Street, it wasn’t the Republicans alone who did that,” he noted. “They did that with Democrats.”

He explained to CNN moderator Chris Cuomo how the Democrats might begin to course-correct by examining their own priorities:

”So I think the Democrats have to make a very fundamental choice, Chris—and that is, which side are they on? You cannot be on the side of Wall Street, you can’t be on the side of the drug companies and the insurance companiesand the big-money interests and say to working people,‘Hey, I’m on your side.’ ”

At the end of the discussion, Sanders drove home his economic message, which he believes resonates with Americans across the political spectrum. “The overwhelming majority of the American people, including many of the people that voted for Mr. Trump, support the ideas that we talk about,” he said.

—Posted by Clara Romeo.

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