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If Bernie Won Democratic Primary, Would We Now Be Looking at a Sanders Presidency?

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On election night, Republican Donald Trump claimed victories in battleground states where Democrat Bernie Sanders’s campaign found enthusiastic support during the primary. We speak with The Intercept’s Lee Fang and Linda Sarsour, Muslim Democratic activist and former Bernie Sanders campaign surrogate, on the outcome of Tuesday’s election if Sanders had won the Democratic nomination.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Donald Trump has been elected 45th president of the United States Tuesday, defeating Hillary Clinton in a stunning upset that reverberated around the world. Trump carried at least 279 Electoral College votes to Clinton’s 218, although Trump is losing in the popular vote. Around 2:50 a.m. Eastern time, Trump took to the stage in New York City at a victory party.

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: Working together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream. I’ve spent my entire life in business, looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world. That is now what I want to do for our country. Tremendous potential. I’ve gotten to know our country so well. Tremendous potential. It’s going to be a beautiful thing. Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

We will also, finally, take care of our great veterans, who’ve been so loyal, and I’ve gotten to know so many over this 18-month journey. The time I’ve spent with them during this campaign has been among my greatest honors. Our veterans are incredible people.

We will embark upon a project of national growth and renewal. I will harness the creative talents of our people, and we will call upon the best and brightest to leverage their tremendous talent for the benefit of all. It’s going to happen.

We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world. At the same time, we will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us, who will be. We’ll have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships.

No dream is too big. No challenge is too great. Nothing we want for our future is beyond our reach. America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our country’s destiny and dream big and bold and daring. We have to do that. We’re going to dream of things for our country, and beautiful things and successful things once again.

I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone, all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Donald Trump’s victory speech. It was about 10 to 3:00 Eastern time in the morning. You might have heard, within that speech, someone shouted “Kill Obama!” Earlier in the evening, as people were waiting, many of the chants were “Lock her up!” of course referring to Hillary Clinton, a chant that has become very common on the campaign trail for Donald Trump. In fact, Donald Trump himself said, if elected president, he would jail Hillary Clinton.

To talk more about Donald Trump’s victory, we’re joined by five guests.

John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, his new piece, “These Election Results Will Define America.”

Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, and co-founder of Muslim Democratic Club of New York.

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker, founder of and editor of #EmergingUS and founder of Define American. He famously came out of the shadows in 2011 in The New York Times Magazine with his story, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones is with us, award-winning reporter covering racial injustice at The New York Times Magazine.

And Lee Fang joins us, investigative journalist at The Intercept covering the intersection of money and politics.

Lee, I want to begin with you in San Francisco. You recently tweeted, “Bernie dramatically turned out rural voters, was wildly popular in states like MI that have utterly suffered under neoliberal policies.” Talk about the significance of that in light of what took place in the early hours of today and yesterday, on Election Day.

LEE FANG: Amy, thank you so much for having me.

You know, I think if we look at the electorate, we look at—you know, if you talk to almost any reporter who’s traveled around the country, attended rallies for Bernie, for Hillary, for Trump, and talked to voters, I mean, we had incredible economic anxiety in this country. We’ve had the last six years of basic political stagnation; because of Republican obstruction in Congress, there haven’t been any big reforms. We haven’t seen—we haven’t seen action on prosecuting Wall Street. We haven’t—the folks who detonated the economic system in 2008 were never brought to justice. There is this lingering anger all across the country, as jobs have been shipped overseas, as we’ve seen the fortunes of the wealthy skyrocket while the ordinary incomes of regular Americans have stagnated or, in many places—in many places, are in decline. And there is this visceral demand that somebody, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat, needs to stand up and fight for these voters, to stand up to Wall Street, to stand up to K Street, the lobbying apparatus that controls D.C. and controls the major parties.

It was tough to see Clinton, who embodies the political establishment, the business establishment in this country, as a credible change agent. Bernie Sanders’ message—you know, I’ve talked to voters all across the country, many first-time voters, first-time activists, who were inspired by his message. I mean, he was a candidate who spent the last three to four decades in political life fighting against neoliberal policies, leading the fight against NAFTA, leading the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, demanding accountability for Wall Street. And on the other side, you had Clinton, who made tens of millions of dollars giving private speeches to banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, who assembled a gigantic political machine funded by the same interests that have drained the Midwest of jobs by shipping industrial facilities and those jobs overseas. So the contrast was incredibly sharp. And if you look at the turnout numbers, the polling in Michigan had Clinton up by 26 percent, I believe, in the week before the Michigan Democratic primary, but those polls were wrong, and Bernie won, I believe, by 5 percent, because his message, standing up to the elites, fighting for working-class voters, really resonated, especially in areas hardest hit in the economic changes we’ve seen over the last 20 years.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this is very interesting, Linda Sarsour, as a Bernie supporter yourself, because there was so much pressure from Clinton supporters not to take away from Hillary Clinton so that Donald Trump would, you know, take office, as he has. But in some ways, has this proven the opposite, that if Bernie Sanders were supported, that he had much more chance of defeating Donald Trump, considering who he drew from?

LINDA SARSOUR: Amy, honestly, like I don’t care what anyone says. If Bernie Sanders was the Democratic nominee, we would have won this election by far. Michigan, we were down 20 percent in the polls in the primaries, and Michigan gave Bernie Sanders the biggest political upset in U.S. history.

AMY GOODMAN: And he won the primary there.

LINDA SARSOUR: Yes, he did, in Michigan. Who gave him that win? It was Muslims in Dearborn. We looked at—we looked at Dearborn this time around for Hillary. I’m going to be honest with you. Hillary wasn’t helping me. I went around the country talking an anti-Trump message, because I couldn’t bring myself to support her and be as a surrogate like I was for Bernie Sanders. War hawk, warmonger—people were worrying about what she would do in Syria, looking at her foreign policy. The Democratic Party is the—

AMY GOODMAN: And you’re talking about Dearborn because it’s the largest Muslim Arab-American community in the United States.

LINDA SARSOUR: Largest, highest concentration of Muslim Americans in the entire country. What I want to say, Amy, is that this is a time for soul searching for the Democratic Party. They left young people out in the cold. They called us naive. They called us idealistic. They left Muslims out in the cold. Any time Hillary Clinton mentioned us, she said we were eyes and ears, we were on the front lines of countering terrorism. She never talked about us in any other way but as a law enforcement tool. And I’m honestly—I’m just waking up now, even though I haven’t slept. I’m outraged, not just at the fact that Donald Trump is the president. I’m outraged at the people who are going to put blame on black people and immigrants and Latinos voted more for Trump than they did for Mitt Romney, when, in fact, the blame that I want to put here is on the Democratic Party, because they are the ones that put me in this situation.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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What Led to Trump’s Victory? From Racial Fear to Economic Populism

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