Bernie Sanders and the progressive renaissance of 2018 and 2020

Bernie Sanders and the progressive renaissance of 2018 and 2020

The passage of the tax cut bill locks President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE and Republicans in Congress together as the party of the rich and the rulers of the swampland in Washington. The stage is set for a historic progressive renaissance that will win the 2018 midterm elections and lead the nation after the 2020 presidential campaign. 

The tax cut bill was designed to provide lavish financial windfalls to America’s wealthiest citizens, largest multinational conglomerates, leading money center banks and most powerful Wall Street firms.  

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Many middle-class citizens will receive modest and temporary tax cuts, which were cleverly created by Republicans to expire, unlike the lavish benefits given by the bill to our largest corporations, which were cleverly created by Republicans to be permanent.

 

However, between 5 and 10 percent of middle-class Americans, measured in the millions of voters, will be hit with a tax increase. What's more, countless Americans, comprising tens of millions of voters, will be whacked by insurance premium increases that will create anger against Trump and Republicans from these voters.

The tax bill has always been, and will remain, highly unpopular with voters who understand that this is “a tax cut for the rich” that offers them comparatively little benefit and imposes significant pain through insurance premium increases and, in some cases, tax increases.

Beneath the surface of American politics is a powerful and profound trend creating broad support for a progressive renaissance of historic dimension.

The Gilded Age abuses of the late 19th century were followed by the progressive renaissance under President Teddy Roosevelt. The Wall Street frenzies and socially unjust policies of the 1920s were followed by the progressive renaissance of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. 

The Wall Street scandals and financial crash during the presidency of George W. Bush were followed by landslide Democratic victories in congressional elections and the huge victory of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFalwell Jr.: Sessions and Rosenstein ‘deceived’ Trump into appointing them and should ‘rot’ in jail The Trump economy is destroying the Obama coalition Charlottesville and the failure of moral leadership MORE in 2008.

History will repeat itself. The stage is set for a potentially epic Democratic landslide that could bring a Democratic House and even potentially a Democratic Senate after the 2018 midterm elections. It is increasingly likely that a progressive Democratic president and strong Democratic majorities in Congress could lead and govern the nation after the 2020 presidential campaign.

If Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care: States fight Trump on non-ObamaCare plans | Analysis looks into surprise medical bills | Left hits industry group working against single payer Overnight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate Sen. Sanders blasts Zinke: Wildfires 'have everything to do with climate change' MORE (I-Vt.) decides to run for president in 2020, he would be the instant frontrunner for the nomination and favored in the general election against Trump or any other GOP nominee. If Sanders decides not to run, there is a strong likelihood that the ultimate nominee will campaign, win and govern as a true progressive in the Sanders mold.

When historians look back on the Sanders campaign in 2016, they will note two fundamentally important and lasting contributions that Sanders and his supporters made.

First, the Sanders platform in the 2016 primaries, which was significantly but not fully included in the Democratic platform at the convention, will provide the policy blueprint for the next Democratic presidential campaign and the next great Democratic president. 

The progressive populist policies of William Jennings Bryan evolved into the progressive populist presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. The populist policies of Teddy Roosevelt, when he campaigned to regain the presidency as the progressive candidate after abandoning the Republican Party, were largely incorporated by Franklin Roosevelt into his New Deal.

Similarly, the programs championed by Sanders in 2016 will largely be adopted in the Democratic platform in 2020 and fervently championed by the 2020 nominee, whether it is Sanders or a similar candidate.

The second historic legacy of the Sanders campaign in 2016 was that he challenged, and defeated, the old style campaign fundraising paradigm of previous major candidates. It was revolutionary and historic that Sanders energized a gigantic army of small donors and became a fundraising leader who changed campaign fundraising forever.

The Sanders small-donor paradigm thrives today in the pro-Sanders group, Our Revolution, and in the enormous impact small donors have had since 2016, most recently in the Alabama Senate election.

The most profound political change in 2017 is that the Trump presidency and the GOP rule in the House and Senate that produced bills that most Americans oppose and many consider legislative monstrosities, fomented a powerful and growing resistance that provoked a huge turnout from anti-Trump and anti-GOP voters in elections throughout 2017.

While the Trump and Republican tax cuts will create yet another substantial increase in income inequality in America, they will provoke an equally substantial further increase in Democratic voter turnout to “throw the bums out.”

While Trump and Trump Republicans in Congress now speak as one and lavishly praise each other while celebrating the tax bill that most Americans oppose, the stage is set for the progressive renaissance that will bring far greater celebrations after its ultimate repeal. 

It will either be led by Sanders or a candidate like Sanders, who will turn the progressive vision into the law of the land after the 2018 and 2020 elections. 

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.