Washington insiders and the corporate media were blindsided by Donald Trump’s victory because they have “little understanding” of Americans’ problems, Bernie Sanders said, adding that the US may want to “rethink” the Electoral College.
The independent senator from Vermont who made a bid for the Democratic nomination but lost the primary race to Hillary Clinton shrugged off questions about whether he could have defeated the Republican nominee in the general election.
I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 14, 2016
“Monday-morning quarterbacking is always easy,” Sanders told USA Today. “The answer is, I don’t know. Nobody knows. I certainly wish I had had that opportunity. Some of the polls out there suggest that might have been the case.”
Sanders, however, was not shocked by the final outcome of the election. “Trump very successfully understood a lot of people are angry. They feel the economy of this country is not working for them,” he told the paper. “People are angry and they’re frustrated.”
“The punditry and the inside-the-Beltway mentality really has very little understanding of what’s going on with working people. It’s really almost embarrassing,” Sanders added.
As a result, Republicans have achieved an unprecedented grip on power – with majorities in the House, Senate and governorships across the US – while holding opinions Sanders is convinced are wrong.
“People are asking,” he said, “how in God’s name do these guys win elections? Well, the Democratic leadership of today hasn’t figured this out. It is time for profound change.”
Along with fellow Senate progressive Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Sanders is backing Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) to be the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He also seemed sympathetic toward protesters who have taken to streets of major US cities, denouncing Trump as “not their president.”
“People are angry. People are upset. And they want to express their point of view that they are very frightened, in very, very strong disagreement with Mr. Trump, who has made bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign,” Sanders told USA Today.
One of the protesters’ demands is to abolish the Electoral College, a mechanism for electing presidents since the founding of the US, because Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232, though the Democrat apparently won a slightly larger share of popular vote nationwide. Sanders favored “looking into” the institution.
“We may want to take a look at the whole Electoral College, which is seating a man for president who didn’t get the most votes. This is something we need a serious discussion on,” he said, noting that the election revolved around 15 “battleground” states while the “safe” Democratic or Republican states were ignored. Sanders himself campaigned in 46 states.
Asked if it was conceivable he could run for president in 2020, Sanders quipped it was “conceivable that I may fly to the moon.”
“If [SpaceX founder] Elon Musk called me, I could go to Mars,” he added. “See, you’re wrong. I’m going to make Mars a progressive planet. I’ll be there first, planting the flag. People don’t think big enough!”
Sanders’ book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, will be published Tuesday.