The Washington Post - 03.03.2020

(Barré) #1


Some Trump allies see a recog-
nizable foe in Sanders.
“Sanders and Trump have both
cultivated cults of personality
around themselves with a fanatic
base of supporters. Both are an-
gry old white guys who you either
love or hate. There’s no in be-
tween,” said Dan Eberhart, a
prominent Trump donor. “A meri-
cans love entertainment. And
that’s what Trump and Bernie
But many Sanders supporters
reject comparisons with Trump
and cast the president as a “fake”
populist who uses the mantle to
cover up his support for the
interests of corporate donors and
GoP leaders. They also say Sand-
ers, with his calls for justice, is the
opposite of Trump on matters of
race, immigration and climate
Indeed, the racially charged
atmosphere of Trump rallies is
absent from the Sanders events.
Nor has Sanders called for vio-
lence against protesters and re-
porters, as Trump has.
“If Bernie got on that stage
[and] talked about murdering
families, committing war crimes,
punching people in the face, I
would leave,” said Lopez, the

Crossover hopes
While they have criticized each
other in blunt terms, Sanders and
Trump are also making subtle
entreaties to each other’s voters,
calculating that there are discon-
tented crossovers they can pick
Sanders has often called
Trump a “fraud” who failed to
make good on his vows to deliver
relief to working-class Ameri-
cans. Sanders argues that unlike
Trump, he will actually help
them. The subtext: Trump fooled
you once. Don’t let him fool you
“He is a sellout to the working
families of this country that he
promised to defend,” Sanders has
said repeatedly. He c ontrasted his
policies with Trump’s, particular-
ly his push for a medicare-for-all
health-care system and Trump’s
attempts to repeal the Affordable
Care Act.
Last spring, Sanders made a
campaign swing through the up-
per midwestern states that were
key to Trump’s win. His tour
culminated in a televised town
hall on the preferred network of
Trump and his supporters: fox
News Channel.
Trump, meanwhile, has consis-
tently accused Democrats, with-
out evidence, of rigging the elec-
tion against Sanders — present-
ing himself as a sympathetic fig-
ure to Sanders backers upset with
the Democratic establishment.
“The Democrats are treating
Bernie Sanders very unfairly,” he
told reporters on feb. 23, the day
after Sanders won the Nevada
caucuses. “They don’t want Ber-
nie Sanders to represent them. It
sounds like it’s ’16 all over again
for Bernie Sanders. And he won.
He had a great victory yesterday.”
Two days earlier, Trump tweet-
ed that the “Do Nothing Demo-
crats” were seeking to block
Sanders’s nomination. “It’s all
rigged, again, against Crazy Ber-
nie Sanders!” he said, mixing
avowed sympathy with name-
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rise bear echoes of Trump, who
also relished the nervousness he
caused among traditional repub-
“The establishment can’t be-
lieve it. Because they’ve never
seen it happen before,” Trump
said proudly in Iowa late in 2015,
as he was romping over a field of
more conventional republicans
en route to winning the party’s

Targeting the media
Among the shared targets of
Sanders, Trump and their surro-
gates is the news media — one of
the institutions they blame for
maintaining a status quo they
As a candidate in 2016, Trump
routinely accused television cam-
era operators of refusing to show
his large crowds. He lambasted
reporters from the podium, often
by name. He regularly flings in-
sults at reporters via Twitter, his
favorite communications vehicle.
Trump has reprised these tactics
in his reelection bid.
“You fake news people,” he said
in Las Vegas, pointing at report-
Sanders also regularly accuses
the “corporate media” of unfair
coverage, often as he is lauding
other workers in stressed occupa-
tions. In Tacoma, actor Tim rob-
bins gestured to the press area
after a loud “Bernie beats
Trump!” chant erupted as he
spoke. “Now maybe the people
behind those cameras will start
listening to you,” he said.

Shared fury
on both sides, those appeals
have honed a sense of shared
affliction, even fury. At a recent
Sanders rally in myrtle Beach,
S.C., a “Lock him up!” chant rose
among some in the crowd, one
that echoed the signature crowd
chant at Trump rallies aimed at
his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clin-
The fervor of Sanders support-
ers has come most sharply into
focus at his largest events, which
are reminiscent of the mega-ral-
lies Trump held four years ago
and has continued to stage as he
seeks a second term. No other
candidates have demonstrated
an ability to fill arenas for rowdy
gatherings that feel more like
rock concerts than political set
At the Ta coma rally on feb. 17,
Sanders’s enemies were republi-
cans, Wall Street and most audi-
bly, the top brass of the party
Sanders is seeking to lead as a
candidate for president.
“The Democratic establish-
ment is getting nervous!” S anders
bellowed after listing other ad-
versaries he said were fretting
over his rise. The crowd roared
louder than ever, as if the home
team just scored a game-winning
touchdown. “You know what?
They should be getting nervous.”
His devotees share his con-
tempt for the Democratic Party.
misty Lopez showed up four
hours early to snag a first-row
seat at Sanders’s rally. The 42-
year-old nurse was eager for an

economy’s boom times, a group
mostly white and male that
reflects the president’s most
avid backers. His supporters
speak of their dislocation as job
losses have mounted in the up-
per midwest and their fear of
crime at the hands of the undoc-
umented, even when statistics
suggest that those concerns are
Trump’s solutions have fo-
cused on reversing decades of
cultural change, including his
efforts to ban muslims from en-
tering the country, build a border
wall and pass restrictive immi-
gration policies, and curb the
environmental protections that
have grown for the past half-cen-
tury — a vast downsizing of the
role of the federal government.
(His signature tax plan benefited
the economic elites that he has
inveighed against, but he has lost
little ground among his support-
ers who don’t fit neatly into that
If the policy proposals and
malefactors defined by Trump
and Sanders d iffer, some similar-
ities have been striking — from
their riffs about trade policies
hurting w orkers and t heir boasts
about crowd size to their taunts
against the mainstream wings of
their parties. Sanders’s current
ascent in a Democratic primary
riddled with divisions takes after
Trump’s 2016 triumph in a frac-
tured republican field, with
each securing victories because
of loyal, if limited, bases of

over the decades have blunted, as
they see it, the success of efforts
like theirs.
Their collision in November
would be unprecedented in mod-
ern American politics, a signal
not only of the persuasive powers
of the two men at t he center of the
movements but also of economic
and cultural forces that have bent
the American political landscape
to their benefit.
“A t a time when there’s no real
dominant ideology which can
unite people,” historian michael
Kazin said, “it’s not surprising
that people sort of go into their
separate camps and find solace
and comfort.”
Trump’s and Sanders’s move-
ments reflect a broader shift
across Western democracies to-
ward a politics rooted in passion-
ate emotion and grievance — one
that has pushed the Brexit move-
ment in the United Kingdom
from little-regarded sideshow to
official British policy under the
aegis of a prime minister whose
public appeal is similar to
Trump’s. In Germany, a far-right
movement has gained influence
in government.
meanwhile, left-wing popu-
li sm and self-described demo-
cratic socialists are gaining pow-
er throughout Europe and the
Americas, at times replacing an
older guard of liberals who em-
braced globalization.
“Populism is the future of
American politics,” said Stephen
K. Bannon, a former top Trump
adviser who labored for years to
connect Trumpism to global ul-
traconservative populism. “The
question is whether it’s right or
left — the deconstruction of the
administrative state or democrat-
ic socialism.”
As he tried to envision a Sand-
ers-Trump matchup, Kazin said
he could recall no parallels in U.S.
history. It’s a product of a mo-
ment in which there is no binding
political philosophy, said the au-
thor of “The Populist Persuasion.”

Different villains, goals

There are critical distinctions
between the Trump populism
that has remade the republican
Party and the Sanders populism
that is seeking to replicate that
victory among Democrats.
for Sanders, whose movement
is based in economic inequality,
the culprits are the financial elite,
billionaires and chief executives
who have succeeded while work-
ers have either been laid off or
watched their wages stagnate in
an economy where costs are oth-
erwise rising. His events are in-
fused with laments of
shellshocked Americans who talk
of their struggles to keep up.
The tenets of the Sanders plat-
form follow suit: enacting a medi-
care-for-all government health-
care system, steep new taxes on
“the billionaire class,” f ree college
for all Americans and sharp cut-
backs in U.S. military interven-
tions overseas — a fundamental
expansion of the role of govern-
ment in the United States.
for Trump, whose movement
is based on cultural resentments
and who has been accused by
critics of stoking white n ational-
ism, the culprits have been im-
migrants, women and others
seen as displacing those who
traditionally benefited from the


election 2020

Trump and Sanders reframe American politics

President Trump’s “Keep America Great” rallies, including one in Des Moines in late January, draw
crowds of people eager to see him win reelection. Related video at**.**

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) holds a town hall in February at Franklin Pierce University in New
Hampshire. He, too, has been able to fill arenas with people who are fired up about his campaign.

Supporters cheer before the president’s rally at the Knapp
Center in Des Moines at the end of January.

Sanders fans react as results from the New Hampshire primary
begin to come in last month during a celebration in Manchester.

Benjamin Sherman, 41, wears a signature item from the Trump
camp as he accompanies his parents to the rally in Des Moines.

A Sanders supporter in New Hampshire makes a big statement
outside a Democratic dinner in Manchester on Feb. 8.

“extreme makeover” in the Unit-
ed States that she felt only Sand-
ers could deliver — if top Demo-
crats didn’t thwart him first.
“It’s nice to be surrounded by
people with your same values for
a little while,” Lopez said. She
really liked his heath-care pro-
posal — “I’ve seen people die
because they don’t have health
insurance” — b ut worried that the
Democratic National Committee
would try to prevent Sanders
from winning the nomination.
“Hopefully, the DNC doesn’t
try to keep blocking that,” she
said. (many of Sanders’s support-
ers blame the DNC for his loss in

2016, although Clinton won more
votes and delegates.)
In recent days, Sanders has
dropped his usual taunt from his
stump speech and instead decries
the “establishment” more gener-
ally — a sign of what some top
aides say is his new focus on
Democratic unity, following early
wins that have vaulted him into
the top position.
At the same time, he has stoked
disputes with other Democrats.
And his remarks about the Demo-
cratic establishment fearing his

“Populism is the future

of American politics.”
Stephen K. Bannon,
former top adviser
t o President Trump
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