In my previous Contributors piece, I cited a Quinnipiac poll that showed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrug importation from other countries will save dollars and lives Sanders: Trump a 'pathological liar' Buttigieg endorsed by ex-treasurer in DNC race MORE (I-Vt.) running ahead of Republican presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpThousands expected to attend 'Not My Presidents Day' rallies across the country Trump's next immigration challenge may be beyond the northern border Five big Trump narratives to watch MORE by the landslide magnitude margin of 13 percentage points. Today, we take this analysis to the next level and consider how Sanders and Trump represent different visions of America and different visions of American politics.
Trump is a bitterly divisive figure in American politics who is historically descended from Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who ran an ultra-right candidacy in 1964 that led Republicans to a historic landslide defeat, and Trump is also descended from President Richard Nixon, who believed in creating enemies lists and slandering political opponents (who, by the end of his presidency, included virtually everyone in America).
While Sanders is the happy warrior who cheerfully takes his case of economic equality and fairness to the nation, seeking to build a majority coalition for his policies of change we can believe in, Trump is the angry man of American politics who campaigns with vicious words and bizarre facial contortions as he angrily attacks the individuals and groups he showers with scorn and derision every day.
As Sanders said on CNN Thursday morning, Trump "[plays] off the anxiety and the fears" of Americans and scapegoats minority groups and "then [tries] to get us to hate Mexicans or to hate Muslims" — and Sanders used the word "hate," as have some principled conservatives who have called Trump a fascist. I have never used the word "fascist" to describe Trump, and do not so so here, but the fact that some Republican conservatives have begun to describe Trump this way is a sign of how far Trump has moved from the politics of civility and mutual respect that is the American political tradition.
Sanders is inclusive, trying to bring voters together by lifting voters up behind a shared interest in economic equality. Trump is bitterly divisive, trying to pit groups of Americans against each other and make America what Abraham Lincoln warned would be a "house divided against itself."
Sanders is positive, while Trump is negative. Sanders is respectful, while Trump practices the politics of insults. Sanders expresses his admiration for Roosevelts and Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr., while Trump expresses his admiration for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin — with whom I suspect he has much in common. Sanders campaigns for hope, while Trump campaigns to exploit the politics of fear.
Bernie Sanders believes in the kind of America that Founding Fathers dreamed of, while Donald Trump believes in the kind of America that makes Vladimir Putin offer him high praise.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.