Budowsky: 3 big dangers for Democrats

Budowsky: 3 big dangers for Democrats
© iStock, The Hill illustration

With the 2020 presidential and congressional elections among the most important since George Washington took the oath of office as president, as a die-hard Kennedy Democrat I am worried as hell and feel compelled to speak out clearly.

Democrats running in 2020 face three major dangers which pose significant threats, which the party can and must successfully surmount.

The first danger is that the issue of impeachment saturates the news and drowns out leading issues, which heavily favor Democrats, throughout the next year. The second related danger is that the impeachment issue could threaten the 31 House Democrats elected in 2018 from districts that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE carried. The third danger is that some of the strongest prospective Democratic Senate candidates may not run, which could lead to a Republican Senate that would blunt the impact of a Democratic president and House.

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Leading Democrats need to act boldly, with a sense of urgency, focus and tenacity.

Democratic leaders in the Senate and House, former presidents Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaModerate or left of center — which is better for Democrats in 2020? Obama: Countries facing severe effects of climate change offer 'moral call to rest of the world' Democrats' self-inflicted diversity vulnerability MORE and Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCNN's Cuomo promotes 'Dirty Donald' hashtag, hits GOP for 'loyalty oath' to Trump Whether a rule is cruel or kind, regulatory analysis shines a light Moderate or left of center — which is better for Democrats in 2020? MORE and large and small Democratic donors and activists in critical states should launch an aggressive recruitment drive to draft the strongest Democratic candidates to run for the Senate in 2020.

Former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran brilliantly for the Senate in 2018 and almost won, should run again for the Senate in Texas, not for president, in 2020.  John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Impeachment enters new crucial phase Bullock drops White House bid, won't run for Senate 2020 hopes rise for gun control groups after Virginia elections MORE, who was an excellent governor of Colorado, should run for the Senate, not president. Stacey Abrams, who ran an inspiring campaign for governor of Georgia in 2018 and almost won, should run for the Senate in 2020, not ruminate about running for president or remaining on the sidelines. Steve BullockSteve BullockKamala Harris dropped out, but let's keep her mental health plan alive The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats worry about diversity on next debate stage The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached MORE, who has been a superb governor of Montana, should run for the Senate, not president, in 2020.

Former Democratic presidents Obama and Clinton should step forward far more boldly and aggressively to promote the powerful Democratic drive proposed here.

Democrats won a landslide victory of epic and historic proportion in the 2018 midterm elections by talking about better health care, higher wages, protecting the earth and backing fair immigration that defends our borders without breaking up families and putting migrant children in cages. Yet the issue that saturates the media today is not what Democrats stand for, but whether to impeach the president.

The right is within one Supreme Court vote of destroying a woman’s right to choose, which would be disastrous for the rights of women, and ruling that the entire ObamaCare program is unconstitutional, which would create havoc and devastation for countless millions of Americans who need medical care. Wages for workers have been lagging for decades, which hurts families across America. These issues powerfully help Democrats, yet airwaves are dominated, instead, with talk about subpoenas and impeachment.

To update James Carville from an earlier campaign, it’s the wages, stupid. It’s the health care, stupid. It’s the matters that affect voters every day, stupid.  

Every House investigation must proceed. Every subpoena must be upheld. Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE must testify publicly and clearly about what his investigation discovered about the threat to American democracy from Russia. The rule of law must be upheld. The constitution must be protected from a president who has radical authoritarian instincts and must not be reelected.

There may well come a time when impeachment should be seriously considered. But for now Democrats should be shouting from the rooftops about improving health care and not destroying it, increasing wages that will benefit workers everywhere rather than cutting taxes for the most wealthy, protecting borders without the cruelty brought by a president who must not be reelected, protecting the planet from pollution that could destroy it and defeating the president whose list of enemies includes the earth itself. 

The Democratic presidential field includes more players than the starting offense AND defense of an NFL team. Some of them should do the right thing and drop out. Others should do the right thing and run for the Senate. The future of our democracy depends on it.

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.