Sanders, Warren face tough decision on Trump

Sanders, Warren face tough decision on Trump
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Leading liberals such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Progressives like Turner should reconsider running as Democrats Senate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters Biden called Shontel Brown to congratulate her after Ohio primary win MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Senators highlight security threats from China during rare public hearing | Facebook suspends accounts of NYU researchers who've criticized platform Democrats urge Amazon, Facebook to drop requests for Khan recusal Senate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters MORE (D-Mass.) are facing the difficult question of how to deal with President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE.

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Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign appalled the left, and his appointments since winning the White House have only compounded liberal anxiety.

Yet the incoming president has also made promises to struggling, blue-collar Americans that echo the priorities of progressive Democrats.

The Republican has lashed out at free-trade deals and outsourcing while railing against an economy that he says is rigged for the “elites.” He has called for new spending on infrastructure and reiterated his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a video released late Monday afternoon.

“I think it’s smart for progressives to make as much progress as they can with Trump in power,” said Tad Devine, who served as a senior adviser to Sanders during his Democratic presidential primary battle with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBriahna Joy Gray: Progressives like Turner should reconsider running as Democrats Biden wishes Obama a happy birthday Ohio special election: A good day for Democrats MORE. Devine emphasized he was speaking in a personal capacity, not on behalf of Sanders.

Trump “is going to have this authority for four years and people are hurting. They can’t wait for progress on economic issues.”

Devine asserted that Democrats could still “draw the bright lines where we need to,” even while working with Trump on some issues. To back away completely, he warned, would mean suffering the “political consequences” with working-class voters who might think the party was deaf to their concerns.

But others on the left see things differently. To cooperate with Trump, they warn, runs the risk of “normalizing” a political figure they see as an existential threat to democracy.

“Democrats shouldn’t look at Trump through rose-colored glasses,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director of progressive group MoveOn. “If you look at who he has appointed, one after another, it has been people enthusiastic about doing the worst things.”

While Wikler said there was a place for Democrats to offer a positive agenda, he added that “it is important not to mistake Trump’s gestures in their direction with an actual desire to advance a populist, progressive agenda.”

Sanders and Warren, the two leading lights of the left, have thus far walked a careful line since Trump’s election victory.

During an appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Sanders called Trump’s rhetoric about Latinos “outrageous” and said that his earlier promotion of the "birther" movement, which holds that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen, was “nothing less than a racist effort to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president.”

But, Sanders continued, “Donald Trump has talked about [how] he is not going to cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid. He is going to work to re-establish a Glass-Steagall legislation. He wants to rebuild the infrastructure. Those are issues that some of us have been working on for years. And if he wants to work with us on those issues, I accept that.”

Warren adopted a similar approach in her first major speech after the election.

“When [Trump’s] goal is to increase the economic security of middle-class families, then count me in,” she told the executive council of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

In the same speech, the Massachusetts senator asserted that Trump had “regularly made statements that undermined core values of our democracy.” She also insisted that Democrats’ “first job” during his tenure would be to “stand up to bigotry."

It remains to be seen to what extent Trump will reach out to Democrats, especially given that his party will control both the House and Senate next year.

Trump appears interested in bringing a Democrat into a top administration job.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard on Chicago mayor's decision to limit media interviews to people of color: 'Anti-white racism' Fox News says network and anchor Leland Vittert have 'parted ways' New co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials MORE (D-Hawaii), who resigned as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to back Sanders over Clinton in the primary, met with Trump on Monday, apparently at the behest of the president-elect’s most controversial adviser, former Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon.

In a statement afterward, Gabbard said that the meeting had been focused on foreign policy, especially the conflict in Syria, and the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda.

“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives,” she said.

After the meeting, top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters gathered at Trump Tower that there was “a lot of common ground” between the Democratic congresswoman and Trump.

Just one day before, however, Trump met with Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and a noted hard-liner on immigration. Kobach was photographed carrying a memo that included a recommendation for a system under which “all aliens from high risk areas are tracked.”

That proposal, not far removed from the concept of a Muslim registry, sparked fresh outrage among Trump’s critics.

Asked about the juxtaposition between the Gabbard and Kobach meetings, MoveOn’s Wikler did not criticize Gabbard by name. But he warned, “Don’t be snookered — that’s my advice to Democrats. You don’t need a Ph.D. from Trump University to know that Trump operates in bad faith almost instinctively.”

Some veteran Democratic hands believe that Trump has no real interest in pursuing the more economically populist parts of his agenda.

Should Trump adopt a more traditional Republican economic policy, it would get progressive lawmakers off the hook, likely allowing them to stand in unified opposition.

Jim Manley, a former aide to retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights MORE (D-Nev.), said he understood why the likes of Sanders and Warren would make positive noises about Trump’s more populist economic promises. But, he asserted, “from what I’m seeing there is not a snowball’s chance in hell it is going to work.”

Manley added, “If there is a fair deal to be cut, I think Democrats should take it, because people need help. ... I’m not one of those people saying ‘Hell, no.’ I’m just not convinced it is ever going to work out, like some folks are hoping.”

Sanders himself seems to be coming to a similar view. On Monday, he published a post on Medium in which he said that Trump, as a candidate, had correctly identified the need for investment in infrastructure.

“But the plan he offered is a scam that gives massive tax breaks to large companies and billionaires on Wall Street,” Sanders added.