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Brent Budowsky: Why Hillary scares the right

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Hillary Clinton defeating former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by 10 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) by 14 percent.

Even if this poll exaggerates Clinton’s advantage, when was the last poll showing any Republican defeating her by such huge margins? If there were such a poll, Republicans would be ecstatically celebrating the arrival of the new GOP messiah who would bring the next golden age of American conservatism.

{mosads}Hillary hysteria is gripping the GOP. Every day, conservative media offers an angst-ridden deluge of attacks against the former secretary of State, with derision, anger and predictions of her coming demise.

As Shakespeare might put it, the GOP doth protest too much. Republicans and conservatives are terrified that there is only one candidate in either party who today demonstrates the potential to win the nomination and be elected by a landslide. That candidate is the Democrat who would be the first woman president.

Shakespeare also wrote “there is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” The tide of political affairs today is a surge of progressive activism and support for a progressive agenda that is winning the battle of ideas against conservatives.

The GOP right is inward-looking, backward-looking and so obsessed with telling one another which liberals it detests the most that it has nothing to offer most Americans about how to improve their lives.

Nothing better dramatizes the great opportunity for Clinton and Democrats, and the great danger for conservatives and Republicans, than the deluge of criticism and condescension from the right toward Pope Francis.

Francis lifts the hearts and horizons of progressives with calls for income equality, fairness in finance, humane treatment of immigrants, food and subsistence help for the poor and a ringing defense of the earth from the ravages of pollution that he teaches — along with a substantial majority of scientists — are largely caused by man-made factors.

When Francis issued a historic encyclical calling for protection of the environment, this pope, who according to recent polling has a favorable rating of 90 percent from American Catholics and 70 percent from all Americans, was met with a tidal wave of derision from the right and most Republican candidates for the presidency.

In the 1970s, when then-President Ford refused to provide aid to New York, the New York Daily News bannered the headline, “Ford to New York: Drop dead.” Today the conservative media runs headlines that say, in effect: “Conservatives to pope: Shut up.”

While Clinton and Democrats champion equal rights for all, many on the right squirm like worms on a hot brick as they are forced to submit to pressure to accept the removal of the Confederate flag from government buildings.

With the demographic wave of Hispanics poised to exert huge influence on the 2016 elections, Rubio has changed his position on immigration reform almost as many times as Bush has changed his position on the Iraq War initiated more than a decade ago by his brother.

With a strong national majority supporting the right for gays to marry who they choose, many conservatives, when they are not calling Francis a socialist, are telling gays “permission denied” on their right to decide — without requiring conservative approval.

There is a progressive wave growing in America. When she vows to lead a national fight to reverse widely opposed Supreme Court decisions that allow the wealthy to buy elections and undermine voting rights, Clinton is leading this wave. On other issues it is led by others such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Clinton and Democrats are riding the progressive wave on the right side of history. This terrifies Republicans and conservatives, as it should.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), 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 Contributors blog and reached at

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