Bernie Sanders Explains What Democrats Can Learn From Brexit

British voters’ decision to leave the European Union in a so-called “Brexit” shows that Donald Trump can win if Democrats do not embrace bold economic change, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says.

In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Tuesday titled “Democrats Need To Wake Up,” the Democratic presidential candidate elaborates on his initial reaction to last Thursday’s Brexit vote. The analysis is part of Sanders’ effort to influence the direction of a Democratic party that he will not represent on the presidential ticket.

The Vermont progressive claims that the United Kingdom’s nationalist — and at times, xenophobic — campaign to leave the EU appealed to the frustrations of British households struggling to get by in the global economy. American workers feel similar anxieties and are susceptible to a similar populist appeal being made by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could,” Sanders writes.

“The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States,” he adds. “Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.”

To avoid such a scenario, Democrats should both “vigorously support international cooperation” and adopt policy positions designed to improve ordinary Americans’ economic well-being, Sanders suggests. Among other things, that means combating corporate tax evasion, not signing trade deals that hurt American workers and cutting defense spending, he argues.

“In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind,” he concludes. “We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires.”

Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, responded to the Brexit vote by emphasizing the importance of having an experienced leader during tumultuous times.

Sanders has said he will vote for Clinton, but has declined to endorse her or campaign for her. He told “CBS This Morning” on Friday that he will not endorse Clinton until she embraces more positions favored by his voters, like the $15 per hour minimum wage.

The two campaigns are in talks to resolve their differences, Sanders said.

Sanders’ surrogates have already secured significant policy wins in the largely symbolic Democratic party platform, including formal support for the $15 minimum wage, expanding Social Security and abolishing the death penalty. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Sanders supporter on the platform committee, criticized the absence of some liberal priorities, but nonetheless called the platform “the strongest progressive statement to come from the Democratic Party in years.”

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