Last night, during Bernie Sanders’ appearance on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon of course brought up Donald Trump — the subject everyone was likely expecting, and dreading, and hoping, and worrying — would come up — and relieved, and annoyed, and cathartic, and horrified, and less stressed, and more tense — once it did.
For, following yet another hateful assertion from Trump about plans for his hypothetical xenophobic dictatorship (er, presidency), the liberal half — and at this point, seemingly a good portion of the conservative side — of the country’s collective inner monologue seems to have been sent into conflict as to whether it’s more productive to devote so many conversations and headlines to scrutinizing how terrible Trump is — thus giving him more attention — or whether to downplay it to give him less power — thus risking letting his more abominable declarations go unscathed.
Bernie Sanders is naturally highly aware of this conflict — and of the fact that Trump wants the attention, regardless of what kind of attention it is — because it ups his omnipotence. But Sanders also happens to have the best solution: acknowledge what Trump’s trying to do, then acknowledge that his tactic is to distract from crucial matters by making sure we’re focusing on him, then resolvedly move on to other issues. When Fallon brought up Sanders’ opponent (by mentioning potentially having the first president from NY since FDR — which could mean either Trump or Sanders), the democratic hopeful’s response was:
Throughout history you have had demagogues trying to divert attention away from the real issues. This country today faces some enormous problems. We have a middle class that’s disappearing. We have almost all wealth going to the top 1%. We have climate change. We have a corrupt campaign finance system.
And as for Trump’s attempts to divide the country against certain groups — Muslims, Mexicans, whomever he’ll pick next week — Sanders says, simply:
That kind of crap is not going to work in the United States of America. I think what American people understand is, given the problems we face, we’ve got to stand together, come together, and create a decent life for all of our people, and stop this scapegoating of one group or another.