In my past piece for The Hill's contributor site, I quoted from a recent poll showing that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks Progressives seething over Biden's migrant policies MORE (I-Vt.) would clobber reality television show star and real estate mogul Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE by more than 20 points. Polls may vary, but there is little question that Sanders would win in a landslide in any general election matchup against Trump and, I predict, in any head-to-head debate with Trump, Sanders would win a blockbuster victory.
What is involved is far more than polling numbers. Sanders is a voice of inspiration for most Democrats, whether they support him or not. Trump is an embarrassment to virtually all Republicans except the small plurality of GOP voters who make Trump a slight front-runner in a race with 15 GOP contenders (or is it 16 or 17 today)? Sanders is running slightly ahead or slightly behind all of the GOP candidates — including former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) — while Trump would lose in a landslide against any Democratic opponent in all polling that has been taken so far.
The seeds exist for a major progressive wave and transformation for America in 2016. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn defense of share buybacks Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo In Washington, the road almost never taken MORE (D-Mass.) is leading that wave in the Senate and Sanders is leading that wave in the presidential campaign, with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE still trying to decide if she should ultimately lead the wave, follow the wave or try to maneuver around the wave.
Trump, by contrast, is so disliked by so many Republicans and so many general election voters that he could not be nominated or elected. Sanders is destined to be a pacesetter; Trump is destined to become a footnote. Sanders could become a leading figure in history if more Democrats follow his path of principled progressivism, regardless of who is nominated. Trump, by contrast, will ultimately return to real estate deals and reality television freak shows and will ultimately go down in history alongside 2012 presidential contender Herman Cain.
Sanders is a leader; Trump is a showman, which is why Sanders's crowds are larger than Trump's, Sanders's polls are stronger than Trump's, and Sanders will leave large footprints while Trump will leave a legacy as politically profound as "The Apprentice."
I propose it is time for a Sanders-Trump debate, and if it happens, Sanders the contender will obliterate Trump the pretender in the battle of ideas that progressives are destined to win.
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. Contact him at email@example.com.