I use the term "Refrigerator Act" in reference to my own childhood experience of being teased constantly by adversaries. I had many meetings with the principal of my school to get assistance, and one of the gems he gave to me was this advice (to paraphrase): "Act like a refrigerator when they tease you. If there is no response, well, that takes all the fun out it, doesn't it?" That might have worked for him, but I didn't have that kind of patience as a kid. I think that with respect to the dynamics between Sanders and Trump, "Refrigerator Act" sums up the way Trump is responding to Sanders rather well.
Senator Sanders, like all Senators in the United States Senate, maintains a website providing news and information about his activities. He has a "newsroom" where we can find his press releases that can be used by the press as sources of news. It is from this page and Sanders' Twitter account that I will take some examples of Trump studiously ignoring Sanders.
Sanders' newsroom and Twitter account are replete with challenges to Trump to keep his campaign promises. So let's start with the first challenge to Mr. Trump that I could find:
On that same day and for several days after, Trump had nothing to say about Sanders' challenge. Remember, this is the same man who, during the primaries said, responded almost immediately to Bernie Sanders' challenge to a debate before the end of the primaries and then backed out. This is the same man who said that the Democratic National Committee had treated Sanders unfairly and welcomed his supporters with open arms. This is also the same Trump who responded instantly to almost anything Hillary had to say about him.
The mainstream media would have us believe that Trump and Sanders are completely opposed to each other, but there are places where we can find them both in agreement. Here's an example: both tweeted about hidden waste in the Department of Defense and both had similar concerns for it:
We do not need a defense budget that is bloated and wasteful. https://t.co/VUqZHtVXn0— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 6, 2016
A very interesting read. Unfortunately, so much is true.https://t.co/ER2BoM765M— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
Here we have another example where Trump and Sanders are in agreement: drug prices. From Sanders' press release on December 6th:
During his run for the White House, Trump called for requiring Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices. In a speech in New Hampshire last Feb. 7, Trump criticized current U.S. law that forbids Medicare from negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies. Trump said: “We are not allowed to negotiate drug prices. Can you believe it? We pay about $300 billion more than we are supposed to, than if we negotiated the price. So there’s $300 billion on day one we solve.”
Trump’s campaign platform also advocated making it legal to reimport cheaper drugs from other countries.
Sanders offered an amendment to implement Trump’s campaign promises.I reviewed the Twitter accounts of both men since that press release. Sanders was all over pharmaceutical industry with numerous tweets about the greed of BigPharma. Trump? He tweeted about his rallies, how he intends to cancel the order for the next Air Force One and did not mention Sanders at all.
“I am sure that all of my Republican colleagues will support an amendment in my hands that will do exactly what Mr. Trump said he would accomplish as president,” Sanders told Senate colleagues. But Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) objected to holding a vote on the amendment.
Trump and Sanders also happen to agree with each other about Social Security - that there should be no cuts to the programs. But Republicans in Congress are thrilled to have a trifecta and are revving up plans to gut both Social Security and Medicare, heck, they can't wait to privatize the whole thing if they could. This is what we can expect from a small group of millionaires who want to punish the rest of the country for not having the good fortune they have had, thanks to those lucky dogs in Congress.
On December 7th, Sanders tweeted video of Trump stating that we should not be cutting Social Security because people who have been paying into it for years have a reasonable expectation to receive the benefits they paid for it. Trump? He was busy criticizing unions and honoring the vets for Memorial Day, a holiday that most companies do not even honor by letting their employees have that day off.
Despite numerous criticisms of Trump and even some points of agreement, Trump acts like a noble gas around Sanders. Remember, Trump has been called impulsive and unpredictable when it comes to Twitter. During his campaign, members of his team asked him to stop tweeting at critical junctures and/or to use more restraint. Yet, Trump is remarkably disciplined about not responding to Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders just keeps on plowing every day on Twitter. He's even finding common ground with Trump - just like he does with with the rest of Congress. He is still the Amendment King and is a master at reaching across the aisle. Well, he is up to a point.
Maybe he was a bit frustrated with Trump on December 8th, for on that day Bernie Sanders called Trump a pathological liar during an interview with MSNBC. The story was carried on numerous news outlets including The Hill, The Huffington Post, ABC and NBC. A review of Trump's Twitter account shows no response at all for that day and even a few days after.
Recent polling has Bernie Sanders as the most popular politician in America. He had a huge following during the primaries drawing crowds of tens of thousands to his rallies. He is still holding rallies, but on a much smaller scale. The organizations he spawned are still working, growing, organizing. He is still introducing legislation in Congress to counter the growing offensive we can all expect from conservatives in Congress once the next batch of millionaires are seated with the incumbents.
There are a few possible reasons why Trump is so quiet about Bernie Sanders. Trump may not want to raise the ire of millions of Sanders supporters, that would seem plausible. But we also know that for Trump even bad publicity is good publicity. For him to engage Sanders in public debate would only give Sanders more power and influence. A debate between Sanders and Trump would give Sanders' message a wider reach, something that I don't think Republicans would be happy to see.
I think Trump is smarter than he lets on - remember, Trump is an entertainer. I also think he has discipline when it really counts. Trump is careful not to underestimate Bernie Sanders and his followers, and I think that the grassroots power behind Sanders make him the only political opposition that Trump truly respects. That to me explains Trump's Refrigerator Act to Sanders.