Hitting him where he’s most vulnerable
Doesn’t it feel like it’s been a long time since we heard from Bernie Sanders? The U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate was a refreshing voice on the campaign trail—one whom even people that disagreed with his agenda said deserved praise for his consistent and outspoken manner.
Sanders came roaring back on Sunday, calling President Trump a “fraud,” specifically in regard to Trump’s repeated promises on the trail to be an ally of the American worker.
“It is hard not to laugh, to see President Trump alongside these Wall Street guys,” Sanders said during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I have to say this, Jake, and I don't mean to be disrespectful, this guy is a fraud.”
The criticism obviously carries extra weight because this is an issue on which there was seemingly potential overlap between Trump and Sanders supporters. After all, Trump’s opposition to free trade deals and broad proclamations about restoring jobs in the manufacturing sector were practically cut and pasted from the Sanders’ playbook.
And at least symbolically, Trump has made moves to back up these promises, negotiating deals to keep American jobs at a handful of plants, officially backing out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and bringing the nation’s most prominent labor leaders into the White House for a meeting even they called “tremendous.”
However, Sanders says there’s a far more troubling symbolism reflected in the abundance of Wall Street veterans Trump has appointed to his cabinet and the cozy alliance emerging between House Republicans and the Trump administration.
“Man, this guy, he's a good showman, I'll give him that. He's a good TV guy,” Sanders said, before adding:
“This guy ran for president of the United States saying, ‘I, Donald Trump, I’m going to take on Wall Street. These guys are getting away with murder,’” Sanders said. “And then, suddenly, he appoints all these billionaires. His major financial adviser comes from Goldman Sachs. And now he is going to dismantle legislation that protects consumers.”
The Sanders mic drop comes on the heels of a report that Democratic Party officials are “desperate” to get their hands on the email list Sanders built up during his historic grassroots campaign. It could be a powerful tool for Trump opponents moving forward if they can tap into some of the same voters that put their trust in the new president to be an ally for the working class. But the question remains: Are Democrats willing to reward Sanders with the kind of prominence and influence such a move would justify?