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After walking out to an enthusiastic crowd — who chanted “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” — Sanders immediately fell solemn when the CBS host asked how he was doing, now living in a president-elect Donald Trump world.
“It’s been a tough week,” said Sanders.
Saying it’s easy to condemn and harder to convince, Colbert asked Sanders if he thought there was crossover anger between his supporters and Trump’s. While Hillary Clinton is currently winning the popular vote, the 2016 election saw the highest third-party vote total in 16 years, according to the Wall Street Journal — a reflection of voter dissatisfaction with both major-party candidates.
“Above and beyond the incredible bigotry of the Trump campaign, what he did is he tapped into a lot of pain and anxiety, and angst the American people are feeling,” Sanders said, adding that it’s rarely reported in the media or understood by the punditry. He then spoke of the millions of disenfranchised Americans, from senior citizens to single mothers and college graduates, who are dealing with low bank accounts and bleak futures. “That is the reality of America we do not talk about. I talked about it as much as I could, and Trump talked about it.”
He continued. “At the end of the campaign, Trump was posing as a ‘hero of the working-class America.’ I happen not to believe him, I hope I’m wrong and that he does follow through on some of his ideas of creating jobs and raising wages.”
About the anti-Trump protests sweeping the nation, Sanders said the demonstrations are an exercise of constitutional rights, but what remains most important now is: Where do we go from here?
“This is our reality,” he said, pausing to announce, to cheers, how Clinton ended up with 2 million more votes than Trump. “So don’t see this as a massive success for Trump.” Adding that Trump will be entering the White House as the “least popular candidate” in history, Sanders said the job now is to create an effective opposition.
“The truth is, Democrats should not be losing to a candidate who insults so many people, who wants to give huge tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent and who rejects climate change,” he said. “How are we losing these elections? Something is fundamentally wrong and what I’m trying to do right now is to bring about structural changes in the Democratic party so that it becomes a grass-roots party.”
Sanders, who last visited Late Show when he was running against Clinton in the Democratic primaries, also touted his new book, Our Revolution (out Nov. 15).
“Now more than ever, Our Revolution,” said Sanders to cheers when Colbert asked if he would change the headline after the results.
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) November 15, 2016
He then told Colbert that the Democratic party cannot continue to be run by the “liberal elite.”
“The party has got to transform itself to be a party that opens the door, that feels the pain of working-class people, of the middle class, of low-income, of young people,” he said. “[One] that brings people into the party.”
Espousing that Trump’s beliefs are the “minority,” he stressed that people now need to get involved in the political process: “When millions of people stand up and fight back, we will not be denied.”
Colbert closed by asking Sanders his opinion on both the best- and worst-case scenarios of Trump’s presidency. For the best, Sanders said Trump is not an ideologue. For the worst, he told Colbert he couldn’t keep his answer light, even though he was speaking on late-night TV.
With Republicans poised to control the White House and Supreme Court, in addition to the House and the Senate, Sanders warns against the GOP changing the rules so the “billionaire businessmen” control elections and work “more vigorously for voter suppression.”
“This country is not an oligarchy, it’s a democracy,” he said. “You’re not going to split us up by attacking our Muslim friends or our gay friends or women, or anybody else. We’re going to stand together and fight for a government and an economy that works for all of us.”
On Thursday, only two days after Election Day, the 75-year-old senator said he wouldn’t rule out a run in 2020.
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