U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) wasted no time in pushing back against President-elect Donald Trump.
On Nov. 17, Merkley took to the Senate floor to implore Trump to dump Stephen Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman whom Trump named his chief strategist. “Don’t bring white supremacists or deeply prejudiced individuals into your administration,” Merkley said to Trump in his floor speech.
Unlike cabinet posts and the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, however, Bannon’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation, so he’s in. But Merkley says there’s other things Democrats can do to protect Americans from Trump’s plans.
Merkley says Dems must regain the trust and confidence of working-class Americans. “The Trump administration claims it will fight for working Americans. I don’t believe them for a moment. They will make the rich richer and those with power more powerful.”
Dems can do that by fighting predatory financial practices, because Trump won’t really “drain the swamp” in D.C. “I think he’s going to fill the swamp with swamp monsters from Wall Street. I think he’s going to want to bring back teaser-rate mortgages and no-documentation loans.”
Democrats have to distinguish themselves from Republicans on trade.“Every trade agreement works against the U.S., and there’s no mechanism for balancing after they’re in effect. The agreements have no minimum-wage requirements for other countries and nothing to stop currency manipulation. We need to level the playing field.”
Merkley also thinks Democrats have to energize the party’s base outside the Beltway. “Whether it’s offshore drilling or renewing the issuance of coal leases on federal lands, we have to fight on issues where we can draw vivid examples of the potential damage. There has to be strong coordination with civil rights, labor and environmental groups.”
He says Trump’s win highlights the importance of communicating with voters. “I’m angry that we messed up this election. That’s our fault. But I think there’s already a fair amount of buyers’ remorse out there. Voters are seeing a childish, immature person becoming president. It’s scary as hell.”