‘Authoritarianism Has Taken Root’: Sanders Slams Trump for Using Troops against ‘Peaceful Protesters’

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in a live video feed to the all-virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, August 17, 2020. (Democratic National Convention/POOL via Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders (D., V.T.) said “authoritarianism has taken root” under President Trump’s leadership during his speech at the virtual Democratic National Convention Monday night, citing recent controversies with voting, the Postal Service, and the deployment of federal agents to cities facing unrest.

“He has tried to prevent people from voting, undermined the U.S. Postal Service, deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protestors threatened to delay the election and suggested that he will not leave office if he loses,” he said. “This is not normal, and we must never treat it like it is.”

“Under this administration, authoritarianism has taken root in our country,” he continued. “I and my family and many of yours know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decent and humanity.”

Sanders then vowed that “as long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates and yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.”

Federal forces have been deployed to Portland, Ore. and a host of other cities facing rioting and unrest this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The agents were sent to protect federal property, including a federal courthouse in Portland that has been a repeated target of rioters. Rioters have tried to tear down a fence erected around the courthouse and have been met with tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades deployed by federal agents.

Agents were later removed after local officials complained.

While Democrats have repeatedly pushed for universal mail-in voting to try to mitigate the spread of coronavirus at the polls in November, Trump and many Republicans have warned mail-in ballots could leave the election vulnerable to widespread voter fraud.

Sanders then criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “This president is not just a threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science he has put our lives and health in jeopardy. Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic while refusing to take strong action to produce the masks, gowns and gloves our healthcare workers desperately need.”

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Trump golfs,” he added, blaming the president’s actions for fanning the pandemic “resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.”

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