Before his presidential bid in 2016, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated “I’ll be damned” if Americans led the fight against ISIS and opposed another “quagmire in the Middle East.” Reversing decades of failed foreign policy decisions, President Trump decided to withdraw American soldiers from Syria and Afghanistan and now presides over peace talks between North and South Korea. Do the similarities between both politicians end there?
Sanders once opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership. President Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP in one of his first executive orders as president. Vermont’s senator once condemned losing “millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs.” Trump’s presidency has seen the creation of 467,000 jobs within the manufacturing sector. On trade, Sanders railed against “disastrous unfettered free trade policy” with China. Proving the naysayers wrong, Trump’s tariffs have brought Xi Jinping to the negotiating table to address a $375 billion trade deficit.
What about social justice? Isn’t Trump a racist? Sanders focused on ending mass incarceration in 2016. Trump just signed the FIRST STEP Act, a breakthrough that Van Jones called a “Christmas miracle” of criminal justice reform.
In 2016, Sanders became a foil to Hillary Clinton, championing the plight of the average American. While Trump is vilified as a xenophobic monster, the reality is that people of all backgrounds have benefited from this president’s policies. Black and Latino unemployment hit record lows in December and overall there are more job openings in the United States than people to fill them. The Wall Street Journal published an article in October titled “U.S. Job Openings Topped 7 Million for the First Time,” highlighting the Trump economy:
American employers had more than seven million unfilled jobs for the first time on record this summer, reflecting a historically tight labor market that is causing some businesses to struggle to find workers. There were a seasonally adjusted 7.136 million job openings on the last business day of August, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That extends further into record-high territory for data dating back to 2000.
Available jobs in August outnumbered jobless Americans actively looking for work by 902,000, the largest such gap on record. Prior to March, job openings had never exceeded unemployed workers in more than 17 years of monthly records.
While Democrats consider Trump an orange maniac, the reality is that his economy is performing better than anyone could have ever imagined. There’s no doubt Sanders would be pleased with this economy if he were in the Oval Office. In addition, Bloomberg reported on January 4, 2019 that “annual wage gain of 3.2% matches fastest pace since 2009” within Trump’s “robust economy.”
As for their populist messages of fighting a rigged system, only Trump is battling media, the intelligence community, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), something 2016 Bernie supporters would likely have viewed in a very positive light. In fact, Robert Mueller’s investigation points to Russia aiding both the Sanders and Jill Stein campaigns in 2016, which ironically puts Vermont’s senator in a precarious position. A USA Today article titled “Indictment: Russians also tried to help Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein presidential campaigns” highlights this irony:
It turns out Donald Trump wasn’t the only candidate the Russians allegedly tried to help during the 2016 presidential campaign.
A 37-page indictment resulting from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation shows that Russian nationals and businesses also worked to boost the campaigns of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Green party nominee Jill Stein in an effort to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The Russians ‘engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump,’ according to the indictment, which was issued Friday.
The fact that Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned after the WikiLeaks DNC emails showed a rigged primary favoring Clinton has been erased by Democrats and media. While Trump consistently calls the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” Sanders keeps linking his campaign to nefarious Russian propaganda. While Trump continually fights the media’s obsession with Russian interference (as well as the “evidence” linked to Democratic Party funding), Bernie now champions a theory implicating him and his 2016 voters.
Sanders was a transformative candidate in 2016. Trump is a transformative president overseeing a growing economy and a less militant foreign policy than the Bush and Obama years. From reviving the steel industry to witnessing landmark foreign policy achievements, Trump embodies much of the senator’s appeal.
While this might be a nightmarish comparison to many Bernie supporters in 2019, the reality is that President Trump embodies many of the progressive icon’s prior messages. For these reasons, Trump 2020 should be embraced by people who once loved Sanders, but don’t recognize Bernie 2.0.