Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump: 'You’re not going to split us up by attacking Muslim friends or gay friends or women'

But the Vermont Senator did also warn the President-elect's team might change the rules of the game so they do not lose anymore and they can control the government indefinately

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The Independent Online

Since Donald Trump’s jolting victory, the question of whether Bernie Sanders, the much-loved, dove-haired everyman Democratic socialist, would have let this happen has been raised time and time again. Despite a pre-election poll suggesting he would have thrashed the President-elect by a significant margin, it is impossible to ever truly know for certain what would have happened had he been selected.

Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Vermont senator, who has been an ever-present voice on political talk shows in a bid to illuminate what went wrong for the Democrats, urged people to look forward not back. He said the election of the billionaire businessman is now “the reality” and it is the responsibility of progressives to decide how they establish and foster an effective opposition.  

Mr Sanders said those opposing Mr Trump must now unite tens of millions of people to deliver a message that the President-elect will not succeed in dividing the country or attacking the Muslim or the LGBT community.

“It is our job is to bring tens of millions of people together to say, number one, this country is not an oligarchy - it’s a democracy,” Mr Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the fight to become the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, said.

“And number two, you’re not going to split us up by attacking our Muslim friends or our 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.”

Nevertheless, Sanders was keen not to dilute the stark reality of the consequences of the Republican's victory, suggesting the President-elect's team would monopolise power and make it increasingly difficult for US citizens to participate in Democracy.

“The worst case, if not Trump himself, people around Trump are saying, hmm, let’s see, 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 we don’t lose anymore.” 

"[If they can] unleash billionaires to buy elections, make it hard for millions of people to participate, they think they can control this government indefinitely.”

Mr Sanders lamented the Trump campaign’s success at tapping into the anxiety and hardship experienced by great swathes of America and said this disaffection was barely reported on by the press or truly understood by the commentariat. 

Nevertheless, Mr Sanders maintained there is some hope and the best outcome would be that Mr Trump turns out not to be a deeply ideologically motived individual. 

“The best case scenario is that Trump is not an ideologue,” Sanders said. “His views are all over the place,” he added, saying that the “good news” is that when millions of US citizens probe him on various issues he might listen to them.

In the late-night interview, Mr Sanders argued those protesting against Mr Trump were right to practise their constitutional rights but emphasis needs to be placed on the future. He also condemned the Democratic party’s failures and called for structural changes so it became a grassroots bottom-up party. 

He was adamant that Mr Trump views represent a minority of people’s opinions. “People do not think we should give tax breaks to billionaires. They do believe we should raise the minimum wage and have pay equity for women.” 

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