Bernie Sanders

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

'We have travelled too far to descend back into racism and sexism.'

Sen. Bernie Sanders this week took a measured stance against President-elect Donald Trump while vowing to “vigorously” oppose the bigotry he expressed and inspired on the campaign trail, and laying out a plan to block policy agendas the majority of Americans are against.

“Our job is to oppose him vigorously through millions of people in many many different ways,” the independent Vermont senator told BBC Radio 4 on Monday night. “I am very worried that a President Trump may take us back to where we were before, and we in the progressive community are not going to allow that to happen. We have traveled too far to descend back into racism and sexism.”

Sanders has become a touchstone for progressive Americans in the days since Trump's Nov. 8 victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whom Sanders ran against in the party's primary race. Clinton's loss has left many Democrats wondering whether Sanders, who inspired a passionate following and voiced support for working-class Americans who ultimately found a champion in Trump, would have faired better in the general election.

Sanders dismissed this speculation as unimportant in the face of a reality in which Trump holds the highest office in the land, while arguing that the Democratic Party must change if it hopes to better speak to American voters.

“Over the years the Democratic Party has become a party more concerned about raising money from wealthy individuals than they have been about bringing working people into the party and taking on the billionaire class, taking on Wall Street, taking on the drug companies or the insurance companies,” Sanders said. “The Democratic Party has not been strong in standing up for the needs of working families. I think people are saying, ‘Well, the Democrats haven’t done it for us, let me try this guy Trump.’”

Election Day resulted not only in Trump taking the White House, but solid Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. It also leaves open the potential for Trump to nominate multiple justices to the Supreme Court, which could put issues like abortion back in play. With this much power, Sanders says, there is only one option to prevent Trump and the Republicans from pushing through their policy agendas unopposed.

“The only way that we can stop it,” Sanders said, “is to bring millions of people together, to make it clear to Trump and his allies that they will pay a very, very heavy political price if they go forward in policies that the American people don't want.”

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