Plan B for Bernie Sanders
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (Vt.) has an extraordinary opportunity to change the course of America political history and ignite the next great progressive moment by making the close of his presidential campaign the beginning of a new era of progressive political activism and triumph.


My advice to Sanders is to run in the California primary to make it a referendum on the progressive cause and the political future of the nation against the reactionary vision of GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE and the Republican Congress.

Sanders should state openly what is now clear to political observers: that he expects the nominee of the Democratic Party to be Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' No Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way MORE and in the epic battle for the American future, he will stand foursquare on the side of the Democratic nominee and Democrats running for the House and Senate and foursquare against Trump and the reactionary Republican Congress.

Sanders should immediately and fully end all criticism of Clinton and run against Trump and his ugly campaign throughout the state of California. He should make a direct appeal to working-class voters who would consider voting for Trump and suggest they vote for him as the true voice who champions income equality and higher wages for all workers — as opposed to Trump, who believes that American workers are overpaid.

Sanders should say to those tempted by Trump: Do you really want to support a candidate who believes your wages are too high today? Do you really want to support a candidate who pretends to support American workers against China while he counts the money he has made from sales of clothes made in China with his name on the label? Do you really want to support a candidate who claims he is anti-establishment while his campaign chief tells the Republican National Committee that his anti-establishment populism is a performance that will end the minute he has the nomination locked up?

Sanders can say to those tempted by Trump: One thing you can count on is that Bernie Sanders will never send his campaign chief to Wall Street or the political establishment and say he will suddenly change to another persona! Sanders can say that he has spent a lifetime fighting for workers in ways that Trump never dared to dream of.

Additionally, if Sanders does end his criticism of Clinton, he can say to those supporters of Clinton in California who also hope that she takes the most progressive positions that they can vote for him in the Golden State in a referendum for a progressive future, sending a message to the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign that even many of her supporters largely agree with him.

My guess is that if Sanders pursues this course, he will win the California primary in a way that does not hurt Clinton, but in fact helps her. I have made the point for many months that there are reasons why Sanders defeats Trump by landslide margins in virtually every poll, and runs stronger against Trump and all Republicans than Clinton does. There is a progressive populist wave across America and Democrats should stand in favor of it, and transform America because of it.

The California primary should not be the end of Sanders's campaign; it should be the beginning of the next stage of the progressive movement.

The Sanders who astonished the political world with his unprecedented and historic surge of small donors should ask for, and be given, even more donations that will elect liberals to the House and Senate.

The Sanders who was given the honor addressing the social justice leaders at Vatican City should be an international leader in the cause of economic equality and social justice.

The Sanders supporters who are transforming campaign finance should join a Sanders-led voter registration drive, similar to the Freedom Summer of the civil rights movement, to answer the GOP drive for voter suppression by achieving the Sanders vision of a new era of unprecedented political participation and voting in November and for the long haul.

To Sanders supporters who have doubts about Clinton, I would say this: I have doubts about Clinton, but I do not have any doubt about the following. If Hillary Clinton is elected, the real-life politics of the matter is that she will be well aware, for her entire presidency, that it would be much better for her to enlist those who support Sanders to support her progressive causes and not to contemplate a primary against her reelection by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (D-Mass.) or another progressive leader.

Nor do I doubt for a minute that progressives would live better in the universe of another Democratic president and a new Democratic Congress than in the alternative universe of a Trump presidency, a continuation of the GOP Congress and the injustice of a conservative-dominated Supreme Court that Trump and Republicans would bring.

If Bernie Sanders declares the California primary a referendum on the future of a progressive America and a rejection of a Trump-led America, the result will be a banner victory for the future of progressivism and the future of America.

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