“He thought he could walk into Capitol Hill and the Oval Office and sit down with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans and say, ‘I can’t get it all. You can’t get it all. Let’s work out something that’s reasonable,’ because he’s a reasonable guy. He’s a pretty rational guy,” Sanders said during an interview with former Obama adviser David Axelrod during the first episode of his podcast “The Axe Files with David Axelrod.”
“These guys never had any intention of doing [serious] negotiating and compromising … I think it took the president too long to fully appreciate that.”
When Axelrod tried to pry Sanders for some firm answers on how he would achieve this, Sanders pointed out that he will need voters to back him up and demand change alongside him.
“I don’t have any illusion that I’m going to walk in — and I certainly hope it is not the case — but if there is a Republican House and a Republican Senate, that I’m going to walk in there and say, ‘Hey guys, listen. I’d like you to work with me on raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour,’” he said. “It ain’t gonna happen, I have no illusion about that. The only way that I believe that change takes place … is that tens of millions of people are going to have to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election.”
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When Axelrod attempted to turn the tables, claiming that it sounded as if Sanders was arguing that “it is better to be pure than pragmatic,” Sanders stopped him.
“No, you didn’t hear me say that, that’s not what I said … What I said is that, if you are good at politics, and you have 70 [percent]-80 percent of the people behind you in issues like raising the minimum wage or rebuilding our infrastructure or family and medical leave. You should win those fights and it’s not good enough to sit down with Boehner and say, ‘No, I can’t support’ — ‘Oh OK, guess we’re not going to do it.’”
In a separate interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Sanders added that he will not repeat Obama’s “biggest political mistake” if he is elected president in 2016, saying that not even the “best president in the world” would be able to avoid this mistake without a huge political revolution.
“[The] biggest political mistake that he made is after his brilliant campaign in 2008. He basically said to the millions of people who supported him, ‘Thanks for getting me elected, I will take it from here.’ I will not make that mistake.”
Sanders has no illusions about what it will take to completely revolutionize politics. It won’t take one man, or two, or a group of men in the White House to create this change — to create real change in politics, it will take all of us.