Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to hold the liberal establishment's feet to the fire come January, vowing to work toward making the political revolution a reality once the task of electing Hillary Clinton to the White House is accomplished.
"Was I shocked to find out that the DNC was partial toward Clinton? Not exactly. That’s something we knew from day one."
—Sen. Bernie SandersIn an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, Sanders said he intends to use the "leverage" he accumulated during his historic primary bid to promote the very agenda that propelled him to win "22 states and 46 percent of the pledged delegates, 13.4 million votes...and a majority of the younger people, the future of the country."
According to John Wagner at the Post, who conducted the interview with Sanders at his home in Vermont on Friday:
Sanders said he and other senators have started plotting legislation that would achieve many of the proposals that fueled his insurgent run for president, including a $15 federal minimum wage, tuition-free public college, an end to "mass incarceration," and aggressive steps to fight climate change.
The senators, Sanders said, also plan to push for the breakup of "too big to fail" banks and to pressure Clinton to appoint liberals to key Cabinet positions, including Treasury secretary. Sanders said he would not stay silent if Clinton nominated the "same old, same old Wall Street guys" to regulatory positions that are important in enacting and overseeing the financial reforms he supports.
"I will be vigorously in opposition, and I will make that very clear," Sanders said.
He named Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as potential allies in this effort.
Sanders plans to use the Democratic Party platform—which he was instrumental in shaping and has called "the most progressive" in the party's history—as a template, characterizing it as "more progressive than Clinton's campaign agenda," Wagner wrote.
And he shunned the sort of centrist "compromise" that has many progressives wary of Clinton.
"It's not good enough for me, or anybody, to say, 'Well, look, Republicans control the House: From Day One, we're going to have to compromise,'" Sanders said. "The Democratic Party, before they start compromising, has got to rally the American people around our ideas and make it clear that if Republicans do not go along with reasonable ideas to benefit the middle class and the working class, they are going to pay a very heavy political price."
Taking a page from Warren's book, Sanders also vowed to pressure Clinton to fill her cabinet with progressives, rather than Wall Street insiders.
Like other progressives, he said he has been troubled by rumors that Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg could be under consideration for that post.
Sandberg, Silicon Valley’s best-known female executive and author of a best-selling book on women’s empowerment, has a close relationship with former Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers, who has ties to Wall Street.
"I personally believe that a billionaire corporate executive is frankly not the kind of person that working families want to see as secretary of Treasury," Sanders said. "We need somebody who has a history of standing up to Wall Street and is prepared to take on the financial interests whose greed and illegal behavior has done so much harm."
Sanders, who has been campaigning for Clinton since he conceded the presidential nomination in July, also downplayed the discord revealed through recent WikiLeaks disclosures of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. In one of those emails, Podesta refers to Sanders as a "doofus;" others appear to confirm a establishment bias against Sanders and toward Clinton.
"Trust me, if they went into our emails—I suppose which may happen, who knows—I'm sure there would be statements that would be less than flattering about, you know, the Clinton staff," Sanders told the Post. "That's what happens in campaigns."
Still, the senator did concede that the emails reveal "[t]he way they do politics is very different."
And as for the Democratic National Committee's apparently seeking to bolster Clinton's candidacy, Sanders scoffed: "None of that is a shock to me. Was I shocked to find out that the DNC was partial toward Clinton? Not exactly. That’s something we knew from day one."