Sanders gave his candid thoughts on what a Donald Trump presidency would pose for the future of establishment politics in a Rolling Stone interview published on Wednesday. Trump's nickname for Sanders was "Crazy Bernie" on the campaign trail, and it's obvious from the interview that Sanders is no fan of him either. But Sanders recognizes that like Trump, he tapped into a populist rage against establishment Washington that translated into massive campaign rallies.
Unlike Trump, Sanders is also blunt about how difficult it may be to give Americans what they asked for. Trump pledged not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, and re-instate Glass-Steagall financial reform. But cuts to entitlement programs may be impossible to avoid if Trump's tax cuts go through and big banks and conservative scholars oppose bringing back Glass-Steagall.
Sanders insists that he and his office will hold Trump to the campaign promises he made to the working class, but it will be tough.
"Were those 100 percent lies that [Trump] was telling people in order to gain support?" Sanders asks Rolling Stone. "We'll find out soon enough."
Sanders makes some compelling points on the future of the working class, Democratic party, and the grim reality of lawmaking in a Trump administration that is already weighed down by an overall sense of uncertainty. The whole interview is worth reading in full.
On the one lesson to be gained from a Trump presidency: "....Timidity is no longer the path to success"
You can't accuse Sanders of being overly optimistic or having too rosey-eyed a view on things. Which is why many will find his optimistic take on a Trump presidency to be interesting. Sanders sees the unrealistic nature of Trump's ascent to office as a promising sign for other causes that stand a similar snowball's chance in hell. Such as that of basic rights for Americans.
I think if there's a lesson to be learned from Trump's success, it is that timidity is no longer the path to success. The Democrats have got to start thinking big. During my campaign, that was one of our slogans: Think big, not small.
On whether Trump's campaign will be a genuine shock to the establishment
In the weeks since Trump's victory, the real-estate tycoon's pick of Goldman exec Steven Mnuchin for finance secretary and news that big banks will be able to write off billions of dollars due to Trump's tax plan may surprise many of Trump's working-class voters. Trump campaigned against the establishment, but will his administration end up serving its bests interests?
Matt Taibbi poses the following question to Sanders: "Is Trump's campaign really a genuine revolt against the system? Or will it turn out in the end to be exactly the opposite?"
We will see. The answer is, I don't know. This man is totally unpredictable. The people surrounding him are trying to get him to be more predictable.
One of the reasons for Trump's success is that he campaigned on his understanding that millions of working people are in pain, are hurting, and that he, Donald Trump, is prepared to take on the Establishment.
Now, to what degree those were just totally, absolutely hollow lies remains to be seen, but if you look at the things he said, this guy talked about ending our disastrous trade policies, something I've been fighting for 30 years.
On the public's distrust of the mainstream media
Sanders has also given up on the mainstream media, but hones in on why.
I just came from the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, and more than one question – they're literally worried today, before Trump is even inaugurated, who is going to be running in 2020. Literally!
Because those are easy things. It's a little bit harder to write about why the middle class is collapsing, the threat that climate change poses for the planet, and all the other important issues. They're not going to do it. It's not their job. CNN had a great campaign, right?