This is the one big reason that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders should debate each other

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Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate with no realistic mathematical path to the nomination, and Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, who recently revived a conspiracy theory implicating the Clintons in actual murder, are talking about debating each other before California holds its primary on June 7. You can thank Jimmy Kimmel, the late night host who asks celebrities to read their own mean tweets, for making it happen.

Which, fine. Everything else about this election is weird, anyway. And maybe if Sanders and Trump debate, people will stop saying things like: I would vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump because I like them both.


There's polling data indicating that some crossover exists. It happened during the West Virginia Democratic primary, where a third of the voters said they would support Trump in the general election over Hillary Clinton. Exit polls indicated that Sanders won those particular voters by a wide margin.

Another recent poll from The Washington Post found that 20% of Sanders supporters said they would support Trump in the general, compared with just 9% of Clinton backers. (The main driver of the Sanders-to-Trump defectors, according to the poll? A dislike of Clinton.)


Here's how one Sanders/Trump guy in California explained his political preferences to the Atlantic’s Molly Ball:

I would vote for Trump. At least he’s challenging the status quo. He sees we’ve been sold down the river and we’ve got to get it back. I prefer Bernie’s means to Trump’s! But Trump is being demonized in the press for similar reasons as Bernie is being ignored. They’re both challenging the system. We are people who don’t believe in the system! We want to make a new system where people take care of each other.

So Sanders and Trump have both tapped into populist anger. Sanders and Trump both agree, more or less, on taking current U.S. trade deals apart. And in broad strokes, some of Trump's isolationist foreign policy tendencies track with Sanders' sentiments about the American military stepping back internationally.

But that's about it. The rest of their platforms are night and day.

The minimum wage

Trump thought the federal minimum wage was too high. Then he thought it should be abolished entirely. Now he says maybe he would raise it. Back in 2013 he said there should be two minimum wages, one for teenagers and one for adults. So Donald Trump's position on the minimum wage is at best ill-defined, and at worst a function of how he feels about poor and working class people on that particular day.


Sanders, by contrast, couldn't be clearer about his position on wages. He wants a $15 per hour federal minimum wage and has stood in solidarity with the Fight for $15 movement on this issue for some time.  He is the lead sponsor on legislation in the Senate to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Health care

Trump wants a system that sounds a lot like the Affordable Care Act. Private and employee-sponsored insurance supplemented by expanded Medicaid coverage for those who need it.


Sanders wants a Medicare-for-all system, otherwise known as single-payer universal coverage. This has been his position for most of his career in Congress.

Foreign policy

Trump wants to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS. He has also claimed he would murder the families of suspected terrorists, a violation of the Geneva Convention. While he has repeatedly claimed that he opposed the Iraq war before it started, this is a lie. Trump also wants to dramatically increase the size and scope of the military. He has said he would attempt to renegotiate the U.S.'s nuclear deal with Iran and thinks more countries should have nuclear weapons.


Sanders voted against going to war in Iraq and wants to radically shrink the military’s budget.  He supports the U.S.'s nuclear deal with Iran and diplomatic approaches to foreign policy more broadly.

Abortion rights

Trump opposes abortion rights, wants to defund Planned Parenthood, and has made, then retracted, comments about punishing women for having abortions. Trump claims he would be "far better for women's health than Hillary Clinton," a statement voters might be more willing to believe if Trump hadn't spent the last three decades objectifying and berating women about their bodies.


Sanders supports abortion rights and does not want to defund Planned Parenthood. He is committed to repealing the Hyde Amendment, a key piece of anti-abortion legislation that prevents federal health care dollars from paying for abortion services.

Paid leave

Trump acknowledges that mandatory paid leave is "something being discussed" (whatever that means) but thinks that we need to "keep our country very competitive."


Sanders unequivocally supports 12 weeks of mandatory paid family leave for U.S. workers and has supported legislation in the Senate that would move the country toward that goal.


Trump has built his campaign on a platform of hate-mongering about immigrants. If elected he has promised to deport the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and force the nation of Mexico to pay for it, and ban all Muslims from entering the United States.


Sanders supports comprehensive immigration reform, and end to the mass deportation raids of Central American immigrants, temporary protected status for people fleeing violence in their home countries and and end to for-profit immigrant detention centers.

Katie McDonough covers politics for Fusion. She lives in Brooklyn.