Sanders vs. Trump: The battle of the bully pulpit
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The battle of the bully pulpit has already begun between President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul MORE (I-Vt.) — it promises to be the greatest political show on earth, and one of the most consequential policy debates in a generation.

Trump is the leader of oligarchic economics who masquerades as a populist. Sanders is a leader of progressive populism who is a true progressive and a true populist in the best sense of those terms. Trump has the bully pulpit of the presidency, while Sanders has the bully pulpit of progressivism, conscience and an authenticity that is the polar opposite of the phony populism of Trump.

Sanders is not alone in having a bully pulpit of progressivism. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (D-Mass.) has a powerful and formidable voice. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Hillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system MORE (D-Ohio), who like Warren could be a future presidential or vice presidential nominee in 2020, is a leading and highly principled voice for the people on matters of finance and economics, among other issues. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) of California, and Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Energy: Trump tweets he's revoking California's tailpipe waiver | Move comes as Trump visits state | California prepares for court fight | Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges lawmakers to listen to scientists California prepares court action against Trump's move on tailpipe emissions Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver MORE (D-Calif.) who is Brown’s choice to be California’s next attorney general, will be leading national voices against the policies of Trump and the Republican Congress.

What makes the role of Bernie Sanders so powerful and profound is that he ran for president in 2016 and promoted authentic populism against the faux populism of Trump. As I have often written, it is hugely revealing and important that in virtually every poll matching Sanders against Trump, Sanders led Trump by 10 points or more, which is why I definitely believe he would have been elected president if he had been nominated.

The data strongly suggests that in any contest between Trump and Sanders, when voters are presented with the choice of person or policy, Sanders would win. This is hugely important politically as 2016 ends and 2017 begins.

The battle of the bully pulpit between Sanders and Trump escalated to the front pages when Trump announced his Carrier Corp. deal that would save about 800 jobs in Indiana, allow Carrier to send 1,300 jobs to Mexico, and reward Carrier with at least $7 million of tax breaks.

When Sanders pounced on this deal as being a rip-off that will have negative consequences for workers across the nation, he was absolutely right. Carrier is essentially being rewarded with a large tax break for destroying 1,300 U.S. jobs. Sanders is right in warning that this deal incentivizes highly profitable large companies to announce massive exports of jobs to low-wage nations, and then offer to reduce the inflated number of lost jobs in return for tax breaks, government contracts or other benefits.

While Trump claims to warn companies that there will be severe consequences when they send American jobs to low-wage nations, it seems the severe consequence in the Carrier deal is a tax break for Carrier and more government contracts for Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies.

When voters learn and digest the deals of this scheme, the Sanders bully pulpit will prevail in the debate that is coming.

The Sanders bully pulpit will be more powerful than ever when the next Congress moves to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare. When Trump addresses the nation to justify what will prove to create windfall profits for insurance and pharmaceutical companies, which will inevitably lead to higher healthcare costs for consumers, Sanders and other progressives will pounce again.

Sanders, Warren, Brown and other progressives will ultimately win the great healthcare debate when they answer Trump by calling for single-payer healthcare or a public option; voters will be presented with the choice they should have been offered for decades with progressive leaders who will fight for them.

While the Trump bully pulpit was used last year by a candidate who claimed to oppose Wall Street abuses and promised to end a rigged system, the Sanders bully pulpit will be used for the next year calling out a Trump Cabinet straight out of the Gilded Age — a lineup of Wall Street-friendly billionaires and multimillionaires who are at the heart of the rigged system that Sanders authentically challenges.

The battle of bully pulpits between Sanders and Trump, which began during the 2016 presidential campaign, will escalate to red-hot status through 2017 and the 2018 midterm elections, to the advantage of Democrats.

There are compelling reasons that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonQueer Marine veteran launches House bid after incumbent California Rep. Susan Davis announces retirement Poll: Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Florida Former immigration judge fined, temporarily banned from federal service for promoting Clinton policies MORE won the popular vote for president over Donald Trump by a margin that now approaches 2.5 million votes. There are equally compelling reasons that Sanders dominated Trump in match-up polls throughout the 2016 campaign. As the battle of bully pulpits begins in earnest, the Democrats may be down, but they’re not out. Like John Paul Jones, Bernie Sanders has only begun to fight.


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

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