Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday compared President Donald Trump — his “amplifying resentments, stoking intolerance,” “fanning ethnic and racial hatreds” and engaging in “kleptocracy and corruption” — to the leaders of authoritarian countries around the world.
“It should be clear by now that Donald Trump and the right-wing movement that supports him is not a phenomenon unique to the United States,” Sanders said, later noting Trump had grown “closer” with “authoritarian leaders like Putin, like Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, Duterte in the Philippines, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.”
“We need to counter oligarchic authoritarianism with a strong progressive movement,” Sanders said, adding: “While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there is no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the President of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms, is viciously attacking an independent media and an independent judiciary, and is scapegoating the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.”
Sanders’ speech — delivered at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies and titled “Building A Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism” — was wide-ranging, touching on the suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the American-backed bombing of Yemen, Israel’s “nation-state law” and conditions in Gaza, Russian election meddling, the military industrial complex, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report, voter suppression and political corruption.
“This corruption is so blatant, it’s no longer seen as remarkable,” Sanders said. “Just the other day, the lead sentence in a New York Times story about Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson was this: ‘The return on investment for many of the Republican Party’s biggest political patrons has been less than impressive this year.’”
“The idea that political donors expect a specific policy result in exchange for their campaign contributions – a quid pro quo is the definition of corruption – it is right now absolutely out there in the open.”
“This sort of corruption is common among authoritarian regimes,” he said, linking Trump’s model of “right wing authoritarianism” with leadership in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hungary and Israel.