By Brent Budowsky - 03/16/16 05:09 PM EDT
For purposes of this column, let’s assume for today that Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump links WikiLeaks to media ‘voter suppression’ In droves, men abandon Trump Dem asks for 'highest level of scrutiny' on AT&T-Time Warner deal MORE becomes the presidential nominee for Democrats and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpReport: Few recall M hurricane damage at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Trump links WikiLeaks to media ‘voter suppression’ In droves, men abandon Trump MORE the nominee for Republicans, and consider how the party of FDR and JFK can win an election that would put progressive Democrats in control of the presidency, the House, the Senate and a Supreme Court majority.
The most important advice I offer to Bill and Hillary Clinton is to fully understand the magnitude of public outrage against insider political and financial establishments and the degree of economic anxiety that large numbers of voters feel and believe has been forced upon them by these establishments. They must recognize the gift of Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders raises .4 million on Ryan's budget panel warning Sanders: My emails would be just as harsh about Clinton AT&T-Time Warner merger: Rigged by cozy regulatory relationships? MORE constructively tapping into these sentiments — polls show he would crush Trump in a general election match-up of competing anti-establishment visions — and the value of fully integrating the Clinton and Sanders forces into an invigorated Democratic Party that hears and answers the call of the people in 2016.
This battle is similar in nature to campaigns in America and Europe in 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to the Depression in America with the sweeping and uplifting reform programs of the New Deal while Adolf Hitler responded in Germany with sadistic scapegoating, insults, bigotry and hate.
No, I am not equating Trump with Hitler. But I am suggesting that Trump appeals to the darker impulses of the spirit in ways that are life-threatening to his party and destructive to the central tenet of our Republic and democratic faith: that we are a melting pot of good people with shared purpose, not a boiling cauldron of contemptuous insults, warring factions and enemies lists dished by a demagogue who incites violence, views politics as a war against our neighbors and waves his false flag of making America great with a politics of hate that is alien and hostile to the true greatness of America.
It would be a grave mistake, however, for Democrats to become complacent, even with polls showing that Clinton and Sanders would both defeat Trump by huge margins, which could help return Democrats to power in Congress. It would be a dangerous mistake for any Democratic nominee to “reposition” after receiving the nomination and “move to the right” for a general election. This would only hand the mantle of anti-establishment change to Trump and make Clinton the candidate of the establishment and the status quo — exactly what voters do not want.
Instead, Clinton, Sanders and Democrats should seek a union of their campaigns, integrating their staffs and policy advisers, applauding and welcoming the inspiration and ideas of the Sanders supporters, maximizing the harmony of their views in a Democratic platform that offers a manifesto for change, making the party not an organization of interests but an amalgam of causes and a movement for change worthy of the party of the people.
My brothers and sisters who stand with Sanders should work with Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, who served as a White House chief of staff and is a good and genuinely progressive man.
My brothers and sisters who support Clinton should offer a standing ovation to the Sanders small donors and work with them to create a historic equivalent of a “People’s PAC,” to raise gigantic sums of money from small donors in order to elect liberal Democrats to the House, Senate and state offices.
Believers in Clinton and Sanders should join forces and answer Trump’s call to bigotry and GOP voter suppression by declaring the summer of 2016 the next Freedom Summer, with the largest voter registration campaign in American history, reminiscent of the days when great men named Kennedy and King bent the arc of history.
There are the grounds upon which Hillary and Bernie should meet.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sens. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at email@example.com.