If Hillary Clinton wins the White House on Nov. 8, Republican politicians may not be the only opposition she’ll face as president.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has dutifully backed Clinton since conceding the Democratic nomination to her in July, is now vowing to push progressive legislation he campaigned on during the Democratic primaries — whether Clinton supports it or not.
In a new interview with the The Washington Post, Sanders said he and other senators have already started working on legislation that would achieve a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to “mass incarceration” and other liberal policies.
And if Clinton appoints the “same old, same old Wall Street guys” to her Cabinet, Sanders said he will “be vigorously in opposition, and I will make that very clear.”
Clinton has publicly pledged that, if elected, she will support the Democratic Party’s platform and some of the policies Sanders put forth during his presidential bid. But some liberals within the party fear that Clinton — who has also vowed to work with the GOP if elected — will forsake liberal agenda items if and when she takes office.
For his part, Sanders has long planned to pressure Clinton to make good on her promises.
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“It’s not good enough for me, or anybody, to say, ‘Well look, Republicans control the House: From Day 1, we’re going to have to compromise,’ ” Sanders told the Post. “The Democratic Party, before they start compromising, has got to rally the American people around our ideas and make it clear that if Republicans do not go along with reasonable ideas to benefit the middle class and the working class, they are going to pay a very heavy political price.”
But, he added, “Right now, as I see it, that [Democratic Party] platform is where Clinton is at, where I am at, where the vast majority of Democrats are at, and that is what we’ve got to implement.”
He added that he plans to make the most of the “leverage” he gained as a strong challenger to Clinton in the primaries.
“The leverage that I think I take into the Senate is taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment, and, you know, taking on a very powerful political organization with the Clinton people,” Sanders said. “We won 22 states and 46 percent of the pledged delegates, 13.4 million votes . . . and a majority of the younger people, the future of the country . . . That gives me a lot of leverage, leverage that I intend to use.”
As the Post‘s John Wagner summed it up, Sanders will use that leverage to “be a liberal thorn in Clinton’s side.”