On Thursday in Washington, at his first in-person event since his campaign was suspended in the spring, Sanders reiterated that he “strongly supports” Biden. But his goal was the unprecedented threat posed by Trump to the oldest continuing democracy in the modern world.
“No matter how rich and powerful you are, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you are, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me clarify that to Donald Trump,” said Sanders. “Too many people fought and died to defend American democracy and you are not going to destroy it.”
The 79-year-old senator from Vermont echoed former President Barack Obama’s grim warning at the Democratic National Convention that democracy is in danger.
Standing in front of four US flags and blue velvet curtains at George Washington University, Sanders said, “This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. It’s an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win.
Sanders warned that the 45th president threatens a peaceful transition of power like no other president has. He noted that Trump said at the Republican convention last month: “The only way they can take this election away from us is if it is a rigged election. And during a White House press briefing Wednesday night, Trump became “the first president in the history of this country to refuse to embark on a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.”
Sanders cited several studies and experts that debunked Trump’s obsession with voter fraud, particularly with postal voting. He continued, “Trump’s strategy of delegitimizing this election and staying in power if lost is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is trying to massively suppress voters.
He accused Trump and his fellow Republicans of making it harder for people to vote and “sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by questioning the integrity of this election and, if he loses , by justifying why he should remain in office ”.
Sanders continued, “Trump has also urged his supporters to become, quote, ‘poll watchers,’ but what he’s really saying is that he wants his supporters, some of whom are members of armed militias, intimidate voters. We are already seeing this in Virginia, where early voters faced Trump supporters, and Fairfax County election officials said some voters and polling staff felt intimidated.
He cautioned against a scenario in which on election night Trump is ahead in many battlefield states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day. As more and more mail-in ballots are counted, Biden is moving forward. But Trump then announces, without proof, that there has been massive mail-order fraud and that those votes should not be counted.
The senator last week endorsed a New York Times article by Dan Coats, Trump’s former director of national intelligence, calling for a high-level bipartisan, non-partisan commission to oversee the election to reassure all Americans of the fact that they were conducted fairly.
“I could not agree more,” said the senator. “I strongly support Director Coats’ call for this election commission.”
And he urged the American people to produce the highest voter turnout in the country’s history. “As someone who strongly supports Joe Biden, let’s be clear: a landslide victory by Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best way to defend democracy.
With a record-breaking mail-in vote expected due to the pandemic, Sanders called on state legislatures to take immediate action to allow mail-in vote counting before election day. He added: “Third, the news media must prepare the American people to understand that there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we will not know the results on November 3. .
“Fourth, social media companies must finally pull themselves together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials. Fifth, in Congress and in state legislatures, hearings should take place as early as possible to explain to the public how the process on election day and the days that follow will be handled.
Sanders warned, “As we count every vote and prevent voter intimidation, everything must be done to prevent chaos, misinformation and, yes, even violence.”