Friday, September 23, 2016

The Nation interviews Bernie Sanders: Thoughts about Clinton, Trump, his campaign, and more

Sanders: “I’ve got to do everything that I can to make sure that Trump does not become president.”

So do we all. Here is a part of The Nation's interview with Bernie Sanders. Interviewers were Katrina vanden Heuvel and John Nichols.

The Nation: You’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton. Some of your supporters feel you’ve betrayed them. What do you say to them now?

Sanders: I’m a United States senator, and I have a responsibility to the people of my state—also to the people of this country. The first thing that I’ve got to think about is: What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for the people of my state and for the people of this country? And for the people of the world? I think it would be an absolute disaster. It would be beyond a disaster. Therefore, as a United States senator, I’ve got to do everything that I can to make sure that Trump does not become president.

Now, do I have strong differences of opinion with Hillary Clinton? I think the whole world knows that. The goal here is not to say, “Hillary Clinton is the best thing in the history of the world—she’s great, she’s wonderful, she’s terrific.” What we should be saying is that if you look at virtually all of the issues of importance to the people of this country—issues like making public colleges and universities tuition-free—Hillary Clinton is now on record for doing that for people making $125,000 a year or less. You know what? That is pretty revolutionary. That will transform the lives of millions of families in this country. That’s what Clinton stands for.

Clinton is on record supporting a doubling of community health centers in this country, which will mean that tens of millions of people—poor people—will have access to health care that do not have it today. Is that significant? It is very significant. Clinton is on record supporting pay equity for women, so that women do not continue to make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. I happen to believe that one of the great crises facing the planet is climate change. Donald Trump happens not to think that climate change is real. Clinton takes it seriously.

The point is not to say that we love Hillary Clinton or that we agree with her on all of the issues. The goal is to go above that and ask: Which candidate will do a better job for middle-class and working-class families? I think the answer is obvious.

The second point to be made is that politics does not end the day of the election. The day after the election, when Hillary Clinton wins, you can be assured that I and other progressives will be saying to President-elect Clinton, “Take a good look at the Democratic platform that you supported—because together, President-elect Clinton, we are going to implement that platform. We’re going to involve millions of people in the process who are going to break up the large Wall Street banks, who are going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, who are going to be very aggressive on climate change and transforming our energy system.”

But if Trump is elected president… I just don’t know what America looks like four years after his election, in terms of the kind of bigotry that will be erupting, in terms of the kind of divisiveness that we will see, the kind of demagoguery that we will see.

That’s where I am. I’m not going to sit here and say to you that Hillary Clinton is going to be great on all these issues with absolute confidence. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that on many, many issues, her views are progressive. In many areas, they are awesome. Where they’re not progressive, we’ve got to push her, and the day after the election, we will mobilize millions of people to make sure that we make her the most progressive president that she can be.

The lesson from Bernie is this: Berniecrats will never, never get the progressive changes Bernie advocates if Trump wins. But if you keep up the fight for those ideals, you have a chance to enact real change under a Clinton presidency.

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