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Bernie Sanders: 'Hopeless Poverty Threatens Democracy'

Bernie Sanders stopped by the Rachel Maddow show to discuss his ideas for dealing with populist anger in positive ways.
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Bernie Sanders stopped by The Rachel Maddow Show to weigh in on Donald Trump's insanity and how to redirect populist anger into positive directions.

Transcript via MSNBC:

SANDERS: Let me give you my perspective on what’s going on. It’s a different perspective I think than other people have. I think you have an enormous amount of fear and uncertainty in this country. And it’s not just from San Bernardino or from Paris.

I think what you’ve got are millions of people who are in trouble today. They really are. They’re confused. They’re working longer hours for lower wages. They’re seeing productivity going up but their kids are worse off economically than they are. They’re looking at a campaign finance system in politics and they see corruption, big money buying elections. Nobody in Congress is listening to them.

They’re out there alone. Who’s listening to them? They’re in trouble. They need help.

What’s the cause of their problems? Is it Wall Street? Is it big money? Is it massive inequality in terms of wealth and income? Well, no one talks about that really.

And then have you demagogues like Trump come along. He says I know what the cause is. Remember, a few months ago, the cause was that Mexicans who are coming to this country, well, they were criminals or rapists. Today, it is Muslims.

You all remember how many years ago, we were younger, it was uppity women who are trying to take our jobs as men. It was those gay people who wanted to make everybody homosexual in our school system. It was Blacks wanted to take white jobs.

That’s what demagoguery is about. It is to obfuscate the real problems facing our society and find somebody you can blame and rally the American people. That’s what it is. It’s the immigrants or the Muslims. We’ve got to take them on.

And I think my main concern is because I worry about this. It’s real. You see the people standing up there and applauding. How do we get to those people? How do we say, why do you keep voting for people who are giving more tax breaks to billionaires, who are going to send your jobs abroad, not going to let you form a union, not going to allow your kids to go to college? Why do you keep voting for these guys?


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Because they pick out a victim whether it’s Blacks, whether it’s gays, whether it’s women, whether it’s immigrants, whether it’s Muslims who we can pick on.

And what our job is and I think hard about these things, how do we get those people to begin standing up for their own interests.

And I will tell you is the antidote to Trump is a very strong progressive agenda that says, yes, I know you’re angry. And you know what? You should be angry because you’re working longer hours for low wages. You have a right to be bitter, and you have a right to be that.

Don’t take it out on the Muslims. Don’t take it out on Latinos. Try to help us work together to create a country where your kids and you can have a decent standard of living. It has to be a bold and radical agenda. No more same old same old.

I don’t mean to be political here. People are hurting and angry, and they want something to be able to stand up and fight for. That’s what I believe the antidote is to Trumpism.

Step 1: Acknowledge the anger.
Step 2: Redirect that anger away from other people onto action for change.

I fundamentally agree with him, but I think it's too simple to assume anger like this can be redirected. For some -- not all, but some -- it's in their DNA. It's been ingrained in them and reinforced every day by the hate talkers and the Fox News talkers and the online offshoots of those groups. It's a cult, and it's one that is so toxic that it's going to take more than talking about working together to make change happen.

But I think he nailed the reasons they're gravitating toward Trump, and I think his solution is solid. He just has to figure out how to mute the external hate machine.

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