From Bernie to Beto, a progressive era begins

The odds are high that the progressive movement will lead a wave that will determine the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 and the next Democratic president who will be inaugurated in January 2021.

After the great Democratic victory in the 2018 midterm elections, creating a Democratic House of Representatives that must approve any legislative measure that will become law during the final two years of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE’s current and probably only term in office, the 2020 presidential campaign has now begun.

Recently, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Top aide Jeff Weaver lays out Sanders's path to victory MORE (I-Vt.) convened a meeting of his long-term friends, supporters and admirers to discuss the 2020 campaign.

ADVERTISEMENT

There are now mini-boomlets for Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who electrified national politics by almost defeating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (R-Texas) in their Senate race, and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Dayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Dayton mayor: Trump visit after shooting was 'difficult on the community' MORE (D-Ohio), who continued his decades-long success in Ohio by being re-elected to the Senate, to run in 2020.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Hill Reporter Rafael Bernal: Biden tries to salvage Latino Support Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (D-Calif.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report Poll: Nearly 4 in 5 say they will consider candidates' stances on cybersecurity MORE (D-Minn.), Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever MORE (D-N.J.) and other prominent Democrats may well join one of the strongest fields of potential Democratic candidates in memory.

Several years ago, the rap on Democrats, not unfairly, was that we lacked a strong bench. Today, by contrast, the national Democratic Party is led by an all-star class of new Democratic members of the House, a stellar group of Democratic senators, a resurgence in the ranks of Democratic governors and an embarrassment of riches in the number of exciting and highly qualified potential Democratic candidates in 2020.

Meanwhile, Republicans are trapped by the highly unpopular and perpetually investigated Trump, who drowns out the voices and destroys the prospects of all other GOP presidential prospects.

On the national political stage Bernie Sanders, more than any other national figure, has won the battle of ideas.  Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign Sanders ran ahead of Trump by 10-20 points, and throughout the 2018 midterm campaign, there was a coalescence of national Democrats around variations of the progressive agenda that Sanders, Warren and Brown have long pioneered and that O’Rourke boldly carried across Texas.

It was comical to watch Republicans in 2018, who spent eight years trying to destroy the highly popular progressive vision of health care, suddenly pretend to be devout supporters of key provisions of ObamaCare. 

Sanders has earned the right to run in 2020, and if he chooses to run, he will be one of the early front runners for the Democratic nomination. I recently wrote that Sherrod Brown, who has proven that an uncompromising progressive leader can prevail for decades in a purple state like Ohio, should also run.  

Beto O’Rourke may well be a future president, though in 2020 he is more likely to be seriously considered for vice president than president. Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, Booker and others would be very credible candidates and potential presidents if they run in 2020.

Much of the insider political community has fallen victim to the misleading cliche that Democrats must not move “too far to the left." Sanders ran well ahead of Trump in polls throughout 2016 because his views, which are universally known for decades, are in most cases mainstream positions.  

The Democratic nominee in 2020, whoever it may be, will advocate some form of a Medicare for All or Medicare buy-in, which will be a hugely popular position. He or she will advocate a tax cut that helps the middle class and takes back benefits that mostly help the wealthy.

The Democratic nominee will call for equal pay for women and a higher minimum wage for all workers, time-honored positions of progressives that are highly popular with voters. He or she will call for a full defense of the earth against the cult-like denials of global warming that are spreading throughout the GOP.

In politics, like physics, every action brings a counter-reaction. The one party dominance of Trump was ended by voters in the 2018 midterm elections. The next great progressive renaissance for America is poised to begin for the House, Senate and presidency after the 2020 elections.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.