By Brent Budowsky - 04/18/12 10:14 PM EDT
We progressives have a dream: to elect leaders who inspire and mobilize men and women, throughout America and around the world, to realize the great aspirations of the two historical waves of our time: the Female Century and the Populist Century.
My suggestion is this: Reelect Barack Obama in 2012 and draft Hillary Clinton for 2016 to achieve an era of reform and realignment that will powerfully change history.
My vision of a Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 would be a continuation of the passion and conviction of Robert Kennedy in 1968 when he rallied working-class whites, blacks and Hispanics to the cause of his campaign based on the interests they shared.
American politics must never be limited to a choice between Karl Rove and Mark Penn, the mirror images of a politics gone bad, in which smart people no longer come to Washington to make a difference, as they did under FDR and JFK, but to make a buck, as far too many do today.
If Hillary runs in 2016 and “does a Robert Kennedy” and “does a Bruce Springsteen” and wins: The Obama-Hillary years could look like the FDR-Truman years, and the JFK-LBJ years, which were eras of great social and economic progress.
There is political risk for Hillary or anyone else to defy the conventional politics of the moment, the crony capitalism of the revolving door that corrupts both parties, in favor of the transforming politics of a movement, but it is the imperative of a movement that meets the historical moment we live in:
The Female Century is real. The Populist Century is equally real. They are bound together, inseparable, transcendent and global:
There is a profound commonality between women who seek the equal pay that is a trademark of the Female Century, and working-class men and women of all races who seek the jobs, equity and dignity for all that is the hallmark of the Populist Century.
There is a profound commonality between the Occupy Wall Street movement and heartland Americans who are disgusted when Washington is bought and sold by those with money.
There is a profound commonality between them and the idealistic young of the Arab Spring, the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who march for economic betterment, the multitudes who marched for Walesa and Havel and Kennedy and King and Mandela, the young and noble heroes (crony capitalism notwithstanding) who carried Lady Liberty across Tiananmen Square, the courageous young woman Neda who ascended to heaven from Tehran, the workers who fight for collective bargaining in Ohio and Wisconsin and the heroic freedom fighters who might perish today, though their cause will ultimately prevail, on the bloodstained streets of Damascus.
Hillary Clinton stands at the intersection of the Female Century and the Populist Century. She speaks for the yearnings of women everywhere but also for the great truth, as RFK understood in 1968, after years of existential experiences and growth similar to that of Hillary Clinton today, that the real magic of politics that matter is the unity of vastly different people with profoundly common interests behind what is, in truth, a movement.
On “Wrecking Ball,” Springsteen sings with a passionate dose of outrage about what is wrong and offers a tribute to an America he loves and calls the “Land of Hope and Dreams,” a flag that promises we take care of our own, and the country he brilliantly calls an “American Land,” in which immigrants come from everywhere to build and share the dream that must be the right of all -— which is why I propose the movement of our moment should be:
Reelect Obama in 2012. Draft Hillary for 2016.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.