Presidential Campaign

Sanders should stop attacking Clinton

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Few national columnists in the mainstream media have been more fair and friendly to Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), his campaign, and the progressive populist agenda he proposes (most of which I agree with and hope Democrats will adopt), than me.

{mosads}At the same time, the presidential campaign has reached a crucial stage and there is growing unease in many Democratic circles — this includes a growing number of progressives, such as me — that Sanders is close to reaching a line he does not want to cross, which would help presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and hurt progressives running for the House and Senate in the general election.

The Hill recently published a story, which is correct, that includes a number of progressives who are concerned that Sanders may be going too far in criticizing Clinton. I hope that Sanders and his campaign staff, who are aware of my views, take this to heart.

From my perspective, the best case would be that Sanders continues his campaign through the primaries, stops all attacks against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, concentrates his fire against Trump, and continues to promote his progressive and populist policies and calls for reform of the Democratic Party.

Objectively the probability that Sanders wins a majority of elected delegates is 1 percent and the probability that Clinton wins a majority of elected delegates is 99 percent. It is no coincidence that Trump is now quoting Sanders’s criticisms of Clinton to advance his candidacy and undermine liberals, and trying to appeal to Sanders voters, which I do not believe will succeed and which I believe Sanders should make every effort to ensure does not succeed.

It makes perfect sense for Sanders to continue his campaign based on issues and reforms and the possibility of influencing the Democratic platform in progressive directions. It makes sense for Sanders to continue to raise money from his brilliantly successful small-donor drive with the purpose of using that money to advance progressive policies and elect more progressive Democrats in the House and Senate.

What would not make sense, and what would be destructive to Democrats and progressives and helpful to Trump and right-wing Republicans in the House and Senate, would be to attack Clinton in ways that divide Democrats and help Republicans.

I have always opposed the very concept of superdelegates. My view is that the voters should choose the nominee in primaries and caucuses and that party insiders should not have the power to overturn the will of the people. I would support a rules change, if Sanders proposes one at the convention, that would eliminate superdelegates entirely or require them to vote at the convention for the same candidate that voters in their states and districts chose in primaries and caucuses.

It would make no sense for Sanders to argue that superdelegates in Philadelphia should vote for Sanders, any more than Clinton, against the will of the voters. Let the voters decide!

I stand foursquare with Sanders — and Clinton — in believing that the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case must be reversed and this corruption of our politics and government be ended.

I also stand foursquare with Sanders in supporting single-payer healthcare, but also recognize it is a major plus that Clinton is now championing a public option through expanding Medicare, which brings the campaigns closer together and would mark a major step forward from healthcare policy today.

Sanders should continue to promote these issues, and also his free public-college tuition plan (funded by a speculation tax on Wall Street transactions), which I also support.

And Sanders is absolutely right in calling on the Democratic Party to welcome his supporters with open arms, as many Democrats are now doing — and the more they do, the better.

What I would strongly propose is that Sanders and his campaign should end attacks against Clinton, which are not necessary to champion his causes and which could become bitterly divisive for Democrats and which could help Trump and Republicans defeat liberal candidates in November.

Bernie Sanders is an important historic figure. I hope he is at the beginning of a march to a progressive majority in America, a Democratic and progressive majority in Congress, and a worldwide progressive leadership role with potential that was dramatized by his recent meetings at the Vatican. These goals will be advanced by Sanders joining Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a progressive assault against the dark vision of Donald Trump, not by saying things that Trump will quote to destroy progressives in November.

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

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton
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