Donald Trump is notorious for uttering all kinds of discriminatory nonsense during his tenure as a businessman-turned-reality-TV entertainer, turned presidential candidate.
In a recent Q&A with The New York Times, in response to a question about Trump’s surge in the polls, Bernie Sanders commented:
“Not much (my emphasis). I think Donald Trump’s views on immigration and his slurring of the Latino community is not something that should be going on in the year 2015, and it’s to me an embarrassment to our country.”
Jonah Goldberg, conservative columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote a misguided column yesterday titled Sanders and Trump: Two Peas in a Pod. The analogies he offers just don’t work – he tries to draw a parallel suggesting that each has tapped into political unrest within their respective constituencies, and that they are equally committed to their ideologies. The only commonality in policy is that both Sanders and Trump are committed to single-payer healthcare.
What Trump has done is appeal to the politics of hateful anger, fear, and rage supported by a small fringe of crazies and is now becoming reflective of The Republican Party. And, his fights are not necessarily limited to Democrats. Monday, at a Koch-sponsored conference, Trump’s ongoing battle with Republican pollster Frank Luntz escalated, at which time he called for Fox to fire Luntz.
However, Bernie Sanders is not to the Left what Donald Trump is to the Right. Sanders is not attacking Hillary Clinton or any Democratic candidate. As he has said in an interview, in July, with The Nation’s John Nicols:
“I’ve never run a negative ad in my life. Why not? First of all, in Vermont, they don’t work—and, frankly…I really do believe that people want a candidate to come up with solutions to America’s problems rather than just attacking his or her opponent. If you look at politics as a baseball game or a football game, then I’m supposed to be telling the people that my opponents are the worst people in the world and I’m great. That’s crap; I don’t believe that for a second…. I don’t need to spend my life attacking Hillary Clinton or anybody else. I want to talk about my ideas on the issues.”
What Sanders has deftly accomplished is to find a way to successfully tap into the discontent within the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party with a populous message of economic equality and inclusion – not division – leading to a major change in the way politics is done and public policy is enacted.
All Trump has done is to tap into the seething hateful anger, rage, and rampant nationalism that started out as an appeal to a small fringe of crazies, but has grown to become Republican party gospel.
Trump has made the wild claim he will deport every undocumented person. He still proclaims that Mexico will pay for his state-of-the art border despite showing what a spokesman for the Mexican government called “enormous ignorance for what Mexico represents and also the irresponsibility of the candidate who’s saying it.”
And, let us not forget yesterday’s interview, in which Trump continued to tap into the resentment of his constituents, when he suggested that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is illegal, and so he can round-up and deport children of undocumented persons without due-process even if they were born here.
No, Bernie Sanders is not to the left what Donald Trump is to the right. Bernie Sanders appeals to the inclusive world of ideas, while Trump appeals to divisiveness, anger, and rage.
Every new confrontation seems to give Trump a boost in the hearts and minds of his party’s electorate. He once said of Pat Buchanan when he was a presidential candidate – “It’s just incredible that anybody could embrace this guy…maybe he’ll get 4 or 5 percent of the vote and it’ll be a really staunch right wacko vote.”
Well, I guess he misunderstood the size of that ‘staunch right wacko’ vote, because despite all of the anger and rage, which he shares with Buchanan – a new CNN poll today shows him a general election threat to ‘win’ the presidency.
However, with every ‘idea’, Sanders’ earns new respect and more supporters, who recognize his contribution to the world of ideas that help to unite people.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.