Bernie Sanders Talks with Colbert About the Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the Next Four Years


Bernie Sanders’ new book, Our Revolution, is out today, and the book features both autobiographic components as well as his rundown of the issues plaguing both the country, and a glimpse at what he thinks needs to be done to revolutionize the Democratic Party. The book’s release is obviously deeply timely, given that the mainstream centrist Democratic foibles were in play, alongside the insidious, divisive and bigoted promises from the now-mainstream far Right, in handing Trump the electoral college. (For, and it can’t be stated enough, especially as votes continue to be tallied and as the rift between popular vote and elected President continue to grow, no one actually handed him the majority vote.)

Speaking with Stephen Colbert last night on The Late Show, Sanders elaborated on the content of his book, as well as what it means now that we’re at the dawn of a Trump presidency. Colbert first asks if, given recent events, he would have retitled the book, and Sanders firmly says no: “Now, more than ever, our revolution.”

He begins on a note of optimism about what the unexpected and overwhelming support for his campaign and his social democratic ideals revealed about the country, and particularly young voters. Colbert asks the Vermont Senator what aspects of the Democratic Party need to be overturned in order for it to be relevant — and to be able to overpower both the hate and the hot-air-populist promises of the likes of Trump.

Sanders says:

The party cannot continue to be run by the Liberal Elite…The party has to transform itself to be a party that opens the door, that is a party that feels the pain of working class people, of the middle class, of low income people, of young people, brings people into the party…So what you do now is get involved heavily into the political process. When millions of people stand up and fight back, we will not be denied…Our job is to bring tens of millions of people together to say, 1), this country is not an oligarchy, it is a democracy, 2), you’re not going to split us up by attacking our Muslim friends or 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.

Colbert then asks a “two part question” — and given the first part, about a “best case scenario” for the next four years, the nature of the second part also becomes quite obvious.

Sanders responds to the first, “Best case scenario is that Trump is not an ideologue. His views are all over the place. The good news is that when millions of people say to him — Mr. Trump, let’s not move in that direction, he may actually hear those things. The bad news, which is probably the second part of the question —”

“And keep it light, it’s late night TV,” says Colbert.

“I wish I could,” replies Sanders. “But this is the worst case. If not Trump himself, people around Trump are saying, ‘hmm, we’ve got the House, the Senate, we’ve got the White House, we’re going to have the Supreme Court, we’re going to change the rules of the game so that we don’t lose anymore.’ And what does that mean? Right now you have this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision which allows billionaires to buy elections. They can make it worse by doing away with all campaign finance laws…On top of that, they’re going to move forward more vigorously on voter suppression, making it harder for poor people, old people, people of color to actually vote. Putting up all kinds of restrictions… [to] control this government indefinitely. That is the worst case.”

David Cole, the National Legal Director of the ACLU, just published a piece yesterday on the New York Review of Books titled “The Way to Stop Trump,” which similarly straddles these best and worst case scenarios, and therefore stresses the importance of activism right now, noting how George W. Bush’s own tendencies were ultimately put in check by mass dissent.