Earlier this week, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly made a big claim about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: "Trump and Sanders are the same guy, because they're both tapping into anger, the anger of the voter, who feels they're getting hosed."
On Wednesday night, Sanders appeared on Colbert's show and got a chance to respond. Basically he argued that his campaign, unlike Trump's, isn't racist:
I think a lot of Donald Trump's supporters are angry. They're in many cases people who are working longer hours for low wages. They're people who are really worried about what's going to happen to their kids.
But I think what they have done is responded to Trump's false message, which suggests that if we keep Muslims out of this country or if we keep scapegoating Latinos or Mexicans that somehow our country becomes better. I think that's a false solution.
And my view is that yes, people have a right to be angry. You have a right to be angry when we are the only major country on Earth that doesn't provide paid family and medical leave, when we have more people living in poverty today than almost any time in the history of this country.
People have a right to be angry. But what we need to be is rational in figuring out how we address the problems and not simply scapegoating minorities.
Colbert said that Sanders and Trump "don't seem like two sides of the same coin," and this answer shows exactly why.
While Sanders and Trump may tap into the anger that US voters feel, their big policy solutions are vastly different: Trump has proposed a host of xenophobic policies that would essentially keep minorities — particularly Muslims and Mexican immigrants — out of the US to, in his view, protect Americans. But Sanders wants government (at often a big cost) to do more to boost people who are struggling to make ends meet.
In some ways, this reflects differences between Democrats and Republicans this presidential cycle. On the Democratic side, there seems to be more optimism that government can find the right solutions to current problems. On the Republican side, there is much more pessimism, as the candidates in debates generally describe a grim world that requires desperate — and sometimes draconian — policies. Sanders and Trump highlight the extremes of those differences.