As Donald Trump prepares for the U.S. presidency, he may receive the support of a particularly influential politician — that is, if he plays his cards right.
This Thursday, Bernie Sanders said he would back Trump if the POTUS-in-waiting makes good on his promise to challenge corporate America. “If Mr. Trump has the guts to stand up to those corporations,” Sanders told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast, “he will have an ally with me.”
Still, the former Democratic presidential candidate warned that if Trump does not do so, he will unequivocally expose himself as a “fraud.”
By playing to Trump’s more populist side, Sanders hopes to break ground on the economic issues he has championed for years. That means potentially working with Trump to preserve and expand programs like Social Security and Medicare; lowering prescription drug prices; establishing a federal $10 minimum wage, and re-instating the Glass-Steagall Act, a piece of Great Depression-era legislation that prohibited commercial banks from engaging in Wall Street-style investment banking. Bill Clinton repealed the latter in 1999.
Sanders bolstered his claim when he later spoke to CNN. In that interview, Sanders voiced his approval of Trump’s promise to levy a tariff on companies that outsource jobs overseas, such as Carrier or Nabisco. “A tariff may well be one of those options,” Sanders said. “[Trump] talked about a collapsing middle class in America. He is right.”
That’s not to say that Sanders has entirely warmed to Trump, however. Indeed, Sanders has called on Trump to fire Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategist and executive of alt-right website Breitbart. He also promised to fight Trump “tooth and nail” on climate change, which the president-elect has called a hoax. Sanders also opposes Trump’s stated tax policy, which the Tax Policy Center has said would cut taxes for the top-percentile income earners by over a quarter-million dollars a year.
However, the biggest warning Sanders has given Trump regards the Republican’s promise to appoint a special prosecutor to “lock up” Hillary Clinton. Sanders called it “an outrage” that would “completely divide the country” if it were to happen.
At the end of the day, though, Sanders said that Trump spoke to the concerns of the working class. And “if Mr. Trump was sincere,” Sanders concluded, he will support him.