Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched into a pointed critique of Donald Trump during his online address Monday at the Democratic National Convention, comparing the president to the Roman emperor Nero, who legend has played the fiddle while his city burned.
“This president is not just a threat to our democracy, but, by rejecting science, he has put our lives and health in jeopardy,” Sanders said, referring to the COVID-19 epidemic. “Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic while refusing to take strong action to produce the masks, gowns and gloves our health care workers desperately need. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic resulting in over 170,000 deaths and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.”
Trump isn’t just a threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science he has put our lives in jeopardy.
Trump has attacked doctors and scientists trying to protect us from the pandemic and refused to take strong action.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Trump golfs. #DemConvention
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 18, 2020
While historians have debated whether Nero actually played music at the moment of Rome’s fiery destruction in 64 AD, the unflattering comparison between the Roman emperor and Trump was previously made across social media in early March, when Trump tweeted a meme of himself playing a violin shortly before he left to play golf at Mar-a-Lago at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sanders’s usage of the expression Monday night immediately hit home, with reactions pouring in on Twitter praising the Vermont senator’s analysis of Trump’s failings.
Bernie Sanders: “Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs.”
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 18, 2020
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs.”
Bernie has now applied this metaphor to both McConnell and Trump. Legend. #DemocraticConvention
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) August 18, 2020
Interesting that Bernie is the first speaker to directly make the case that Trump is an authoritarian threat to democracy.
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 18, 2020
Bernie’s speech is just top-notch. Focus on authoritarianism and Trump’s radical negligence, passionately delivered.
— Emily Nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) August 18, 2020
That was a very good speech Bernie just gave. Focus on danger of fascism, the devastating impact of Trump’s horrendous covid response, and red meat for progressives who want minimum wage increase.
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 18, 2020
Bernie Sanders speech was spot on. Our country is in danger under Trump.
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) August 18, 2020
a terrific speech from bernie, whose great virtue imo is that he absolutely grasps the stakes of trump and trumpism
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) August 18, 2020
In his speech, Sanders also urged his progressive supporters to cast their votes for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, stressing that “the future of our economy” and “the future of our planet” were both at stake.
“We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president,” Sanders said. “My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.