Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders warned the United States is facing "enormously dangerous times" and is on a path to authoritarianism and oligarchy during an interview the International Business Times published Monday.
"Look, these are enormously dangerous times for this country," Sanders said."We are drifting toward authoritarianism, we are seeing 43 million people living in poverty, we’re seeing this nation move toward an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires control our economy and our political life."
The self-described democratic socialist made many of the same points he made during the 2016 presidential campaign, critiquing capitalism and saying he believes health care, education and housing are basic human rights, regardless of someone's income level.
He took issue with the values of America's current capitalist system saying it teaches people the most important thing in life is "to make as much money as you possibly can."
"So somebody like Donald Trump becomes the example of what we are striving for," Sanders said. "Here's a guy who has been involved in 3,500 lawsuits in his business life. He lies all the time, but he is a multi-billionaire and this is the kind of mentality and character that we should be approving of. I don't accept that. I think that being a good human being doesn't mean stepping on other people in order to get rich."
As for Sanders' initial optimism that he could work with President Trump on infrastructure and prescription drugs, he said he now had doubts because, "as I think most Americans now know, Trump lies a whole lot of the time and a lot of his campaign was just a lot of lies. "
He said he has not taken up the president's invitation to meet him at the White House due to his "nervousness about Trump" and his concern that he would "be used as a photo opportunity" that Trump could share "for his advantage."
When asked about the possibility of him starting a third party because he has been so critical of the Democratic leadership, Sanders said he didn't feel a third party is a viable option right now. He said he favors progressives working within the Democratic Party and he said he was willing to support Democrats he doesn't completely agree with.
"The momentum is with us toward making the Democratic Party far more progressive," he said. "It will not have progressive candidates, or strong progressive candidates in every single district on every single issue, and I think we have to understand that."