Hillary Clinton lost the election because the Democratic Party was more concerned with “raising money from wealthy individuals” than campaigning on behalf of ordinary people, Bernie Sanders has said.
The US Senator said millions of people had voted for Donald Trump despite their dislike of his views on women, minorities and other issues because he pledged to improve life for working families.
“Let’s be clear – [Trump] goes into the white house as the least popular presidential candidate in American history. His unfavourable ratings were off the charts,” Mr Sanders told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What he did was appeal to a lot of angst and anxiety, and unhappiness in America, in terms of what’s happening to working families,” he said.
“There are millions of families in this country where people are working two or three jobs, where people can’t afford childcare, they can’t afford to send their kids to college, they’ve seen their jobs go to China or Mexico. They’re hurting.”
Mr Sanders, who lost to Ms Clinton in the race to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, said he was working on ways to overhaul the leadership of the party and how it interacts with the electorate.
The Democrats have become “more concerned about raising money from wealthy individuals than they have been about bringing working people into the party and taking on the billionaire class, taking on Wall Street, the drug companies or the insurance companies,” he said.
“The Democratic Party has not been strong in standing up for working families.”
The 75-year-old politician from Vermont said Mr Trump’s experience as host of reality TV show The Apprentice had helped him understand and appeal to American voters.
But he remained sceptical about whether Mr Trump would actually deliver on his promises, but hoped he would be proven wrong.
Yesterday Mr Sanders said the Democratic Party needed a “fundamental reassessment” to be able to take power again in America. He said he has set out a plan for this in his new book, Our Revolution.
He told the Today programme he hoped Mr Trump’s actions in the White House would differ from the promises he made during his campaign, and said he and his supporters would hold him accountable for his decisions.
“We have got to rally millions of people to stand together, to say we’re not going to be deporting millions of Latinos from this country, people who in some cases have lived here for years. It ain’t going to happen,” he said.
“We’re not going to allow it to happen. We’re not going to allow women to be insulted, attacked, have their rights taken away from them, rights they have fought for: the right to choose, the right to control their own bodies.”
A new pre-election poll has suggested Mr Sanders could have beaten Mr Trump in the elections had he been chosen as the Democratic nominee.
It found that the Senator would have likely earned 56 per cent of the vote, while Mr Trump would have only received 44 per cent.
Mr Sanders said he would have “loved to have had the opportunity” to stand in the election, but refused to be drawn on whether he could have beaten Mr Trump. “Could I have done better? Maybe, maybe not,” he said.
However, he has not ruled out another run for the presidency in 2020.
“Four years is a long time from now,” he told Associated Press. “We'll take one thing at a time, but I'm not ruling out anything.”
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