A few days after the 2016 election, Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and made some thoughtful comments about goals for the Democrats and the future.
At the time it wasn’t clear what Trump would do as president. Sanders held out hope he might do some positive things, seriously trying to create jobs and raise wages, for example.
But mainly he made the point that Democrats have neglected the concerns of a lot of working Americans, and that’s something the party needs to change. It would in fact be a return to the party’s position in the middle decades of the 20th century, when the country made a lot of progress. Not only did the economy grow rapidly, everybody shared in the growing wealth, not just those who were already well-off.
This was also the era of civil rights, of improving the environment, of providing health care to the poor and elderly with Medicaid and Medicare, and of going to the Moon. Obviously things were nowhere near perfect — nothing ever is — but there was a lot of reason to hope.
Trump attracted a lot of voters, especially older voters, by raising hopes. Unfortunately those hopes were based on empty slogans (combined with lies and scapegoating) rather than realistic plans and proposals. Democrats can and should do better. You don’t have to be a devoted Bernie fan to appreciate the sense of a lot of what he has to say here.
One update to what Senator Sanders says below: In the final tally, Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote was nearly 3 million, about 2.9 percent of votes cast.