Budowsky: Why Joe Biden scares Donald Trump

The Democrat that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE fears the most, by far and with good reason, is former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Castro swears off donations from oil, gas, coal executives Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE

The 2020 elections pose an epochal and historic choice for America. The consequences for American and Western democracy, the rule of law and justice and whether the American economy will benefit the many or the few are enormous, incalculable and generation-defining.

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For Democratic voters there is a powerful and urgent yearning to defeat Trump and elect a Democratic Congress to support the history-making policies of the next Democratic president.

For the nation as a whole there is a powerful and deeply felt yearning for an America led by leaders who care about all of our people, embody values and visions that make the American dream available to all, and shine a beacon of light and hope for lovers of freedom, justice and democracy everywhere.

Two polls dramatize what I believe will decide the 2020 elections.

The first, published Tuesday in The Washington Post, found that 60 percent of voters believe the economy benefits the most wealthy and powerful, while only 36 percent believe it benefits all people.

This is why Trump, widely viewed as the president whose policies mostly benefit the wealthy, gets little credit for tax cuts, the jobless rate or the gross domestic product. Democrats have the opportunity of a generation to win a landslide victory by appealing to those 60 percent of voters who want an economy that benefits everyone — by raising their wages, lowering their health care costs, improving their education and expanding opportunity for everyone.

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All of the Democrats running for president agree on 90 percent or more about the issues that deeply concern most voters. Biden in particular inspires fear in Trump because he has an extraordinary ability to reach these voters from Pennsylvania through the Midwest and across the nation, including some who supported Trump in 2016, by seeking to lift the nation as a whole and not only the wealthy, powerful or far-right factions.

The second revealing poll about what Americans seek in a president was from Gallup in 2018, which found former President Kennedy receiving 86 percent approval and only 8 percent disapproval, a breathtaking and spectacular degree of public appeal in America today.

Kennedy continues to embody idealism and patriotism, a can-do call to greatness, a unity of national purpose, a rising economic tide to lift all American boats, a call to sacrifice to achieve the greater good, a civic faith that the benefits of success must be shared by all Americans, and a desire to think big and aim high whether he was proposing Medicare, propelling America into space, inventing the Peace Corps, lifting the poor and rallying friends of freedom at the Berlin Wall.

No Russian dictator sought to make Kennedy president. Every American ally saw Kennedy as leader of the free world. No American citizen ever felt that Kennedy held them in contempt. Every American was inspired by Kennedy’s call to conscience and patriotism. Kennedy never praised foreign dictators. Those battling for civil rights and human rights saw Kennedy as their friend.

Kennedy said we all inhabit the same planet, breathe the same air, and cherish our children’s futures. He would never seek to destroy a global agreement to protect the earth. Kennedy spoke of immigration policy that is fair, generous and true to America’s past. He would never separate children from parents or lock migrant children in cages.

My thesis about 2020, which I will develop in high-profile ways throughout the coming months — is that a winning Democrat will champion Kennedy’s vision against Trumps vision, quote Kennedy’s words against Trump’s words, re-inspire Kennedy’s great aspirations against Trump’s darker impulses, and make Americans feel better about ourselves, our future and our country in ways Trump could not dare to dream of.

Any Democrat can seize this theme. Biden, as a highly successful vice president for a highly regarded president, carries this torch.

This scares Trump.

It should.

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.