Sens. Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the twin pillars of the liberal movement in Congress, said they’re ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump to try to rebuild a frustrated working class that largely feels abandoned by the Democratic Party.
Amid anti-Trump protests across the country and liberal groups vowing to obstruct the businessman’s entire agenda, Democrats on Capitol Hill have taken a more open approach, saying they’re willing to seek common ground with Mr. Trump — within limits.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday gave Mr. Trump a short but concrete list of areas where she thinks Democrats will be able to work with him. Not surprisingly, they are issues that are least likely to get rank-and-file Republican lawmakers excited: more taxpayer spending on infrastructure and requiring businesses to give paid family leave to new mothers.
But Mr. Trump has been open to those and other policy priorities that could garner support from Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and other Democrats who, at least for now, seem eager to avoid four years of gridlock and unending political fights with the Trump White House.
In a speech to the AFL-CIO on Thursday, Ms. Warren — an unlikely ally for Mr. Trump and one who was as hard on him throughout the election season as virtually anyone else in Washington — laid out a set of shared principles that could lead to legislative agreement.
“Let me be 100 percent clear about this: When President-elect Trump wants to take on these issues, when his goal is to increase the economic security of middle-class families, then count me in,” the Massachusetts senator said. “I will put aside our differences and I will work with him to accomplish that goal. I offer to work as hard as I can and to pull as many people as I can into this effort. If Trump is ready to go on rebuilding economic security for millions of Americans, so am I, and so are a lot of other people — Democrats and Republicans.”
Mr. Sanders too spoke of common goals with Mr. Trump, vowing to work with him to improve life for white working-class voters and to take on an establishment class in Washington, on Wall Street and within the media.
The Vermont senator — who steamrolled Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party among white working-class Americans, notching huge wins in rural states such as West Virginia and Kentucky — also said the Democratic Party made a grave, long-term error in its political pitch.
“It is an embarrassment, I think, to the entire Democratic Party that millions of white working-class people decided to vote for Mr. Trump, which suggests that the Democratic message of standing up for working people no longer holds much sway among workers in this country,” Mr. Sanders said.
His comments to Minnesota Public Radio came on the same day Mr. Trump met with President Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, hinting that the Trump team is eager to score tangible accomplishments within its first few months in office.
In Ms. Pelosi the Trump White House may have a willing partner on at least a handful of legislative fronts, including a huge investment in infrastructure, a hallmark of Mr. Trump’s campaign that often was lost amid coverage of his more controversial statements.
“As President-elect Trump indicated last night, investing in infrastructure is an important priority of his,” Ms. Pelosi said Wednesday. “We can work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill.”
Even some leading progressive groups, loud voices against Mr. Trump over the past 12 months, now are pointing to the common grievances shared by the Republican’s supporters and many progressives.
“Donald Trump won the Rust Belt by stoking the economic and social anxiety that so many people feel in their lives,” Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, co-founders of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, wrote in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election. “People are fed up with bad wages, too much debt, and child care costs through the roof. They are tired of watching their jobs disappear because of bad trade deals,” they continued. “And Donald Trump spoke to that. Some of his TV ads could have been run by Bernie Sanders — bashing the ‘political establishment’ that “brought about the destruction of our factories and jobs.’”