Throughout the presidential campaign season, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken out against Donald Trump and his divisive, bigoted rhetoric. Calling him a “pathological liar” with a campaign based on “bigotry,” Sanders blasted Trump from the campaign trail long after the primaries ended and Sanders’s bid for the White House was over.
Even once Trump won the White House and the majority of voters reeled in shock, the Jewish Senator Sanders tried to be the voice of reason and extend a hand to the new president-elect who had called him “crazy” and who tweeted anti-Semitic imagery during the campaign. Sanders took the high road and vowed to support the new president on policies that held true to Trump’s insistence that he supported a populist ideology.
“To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
The time to oppose him, for Senator Sanders and many others, has come.
“This country, since its inception, has struggled to overcome discrimination of all forms: racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. Over the years we have made progress in becoming a less discriminatory and more tolerant society – and we are not going backward. The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable.”
Calling on Trump to rescind Bannon’s appointment, the senator from Vermont expressed the same incredulity that many others were feeling in a statement on his website. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Southern Poverty Law Center all spoke out against the appointment of a man who made a name for himself by admittedly and proudly providing a “platform for the alt-right,” and now Bernie Sanders is, too.
It took exactly one week after Donald Trump was elected and the GOP, along with their voters, told the country to calm down about it for Trump to appoint the leader of an online white nationalist movement as his chief strategist and for one of Trump’s advisers to announce that policy is being drafted to create a national registry for Muslims in the United States. For Bernie Sanders, as well as millions of other people in this country, calming down about a Trump presidency is not an option.
“In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”
For Sanders, as well as many other Jewish Americans in his generation, the comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the takeover of the Nazi Party in Germany in 1934 cannot be ignored. Hitler’s leadership, under which Bernie Sanders’s father and his family were “wiped out,” began much the same way. Some pointed blame of Jewish citizens for the country’s economic ills and all of white folks’ problems by a leader of their country led to the systematic slaughter of six million people.
For Senator Bernie Sanders and much of the rest of the country, the line in the sand was crossed the day an elected leader of our country gave real power to an alt-right bigot.
Featured image via Getty/Justin Sullivan