Bernie Sanders: ‘Trump Is Somebody Who Clearly Does Not Respect Democracy’

Bernie Sanders is running for reelection to the Senate in Vermont this fall. But he is also running around the country, holding town-hall meetings and leading get-out-the-vote marches in states across the country. In the countdown to the November 6 election, the 2016 presidential contender (and potential 2020 candidate) has talked up single-payer health care in South Carolina. He has traveled to the US-Mexico border in Arizona. He has campaigned for gubernatorial candidates in Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer), Colorado (Jared Polis), Maryland (Ben Jealous) and Florida (Andrew Gillum), and appeared with US Senate candidates such as Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin and Jacky Rosen in Nevada, and with US House candidates such as Liz Watson in Indiana and J.D. Scholten in Iowa.

Many of his stops have been on college campuses, where the senator has urged the young voters who so ardently supported his presidential run two years ago to turn out for progressive contenders this fall. Before a rally at Arizona State University in Tempe, he sat down with The Nation to discuss his sense of urgency regarding the midterm elections that are now just days away.

The Nation: There’s been a real edge to your criticism of Donald Trump as you have hit the road for these last campaign stops. You’ve been very blunt about his demagoguery.

Bernie Sanders: Trump is a demagogue. He is a pathological liar. I say that with no pleasure; I have many conservative friends who are not pathological liars, who are honest, and we just disagree.

Trump is also somebody who clearly does not respect democracy, who in fact is working overtime to undermine democracy in this country. When you attack the media as “enemies of the people,” wow. Now we’re so used to this [Trump’s extreme statement]. But if you and I were chatting three years ago and we said we’d have a president of the United States [who] attacks the media as “enemies of the people”—so that anything the media says, people should not believe a word of it—we would have said that’s beyond the pale. You have a president that is insulting and attacking our democratic allies but feels very comfortable with authoritarian types—whether it is Putin or [Mohammed] bin Salman—or even has personal affection for Kim Jong-un. This is a person who does not believe, in my view, in democracy and who is very much an authoritarian personality.

TN: What is the best way to put this presidency, and the politics of this moment, into perspective?

BS: What I have said for many weeks now is that people have fought and died—and I am thinking about World War II and the suffering that took place in Europe and Asia—for democracy, and for what our Constitution is about. And we now have a person in the White House who is trying to undermine all of that. So I think the fight has got to take place on many levels.

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