Budowsky: JFK moonshot for 2020 Dems

Budowsky: JFK moonshot for 2020 Dems
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE announced his candidacy for reelection by telling Americans what they should fear and who they should hate. Democrats prepare for presidential debates. America will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of our flag being planted on the moon. The 2020 elections pose a world-changing choice between the party of John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE and the party of Donald Trump.

Democrats running for any office in any state can invoke JFK as the symbol and embodiment of what Democrats stand for and what Americanism means — opposing Republicans who have become, as conservative columnist George Will recently suggested, a cult of personality behind a president who now wants to turn the 4th of July celebration in Washington into a rally for himself.


From the moment he assumed office until the moment he ascended to heaven, the average favorable rating for President Kennedy was above 70 percent. Trump’s approval has never risen above 50 percent. Kennedy’s approval never fell below it.

A Gallup poll just last year found JFK’s favorable rating standing at a towering 86 percent, while his unfavorable rating was only 8 percent. For many Americans Kennedy’s Camelot remains alive today: an America that thinks big thoughts and does great deeds, led by a president who lifts the spirit of the nation and rallies friends of freedom everywhere.

Americans will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing on July 20, 1969. Democrats preparing for the coming debates might watch the film Apollo 11 on CNN on Sunday that relives the story of the moon landing. They might read the brilliant new book by Douglas Brinkley “American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race,” and the timeless book by Tom Wolfe “The Right Stuff,” which chronicles the heroism of astronauts admired by a unified nation and inspired by a leader who mobilized America behind a great and common purpose that lifted our sights and changed the world.

When Kennedy said here on earth God’s work must truly be our own, he spoke words of faith, and brought them to life by inspiring young Americans to journey to poor places at home and abroad to lift the lives of those in need, which is the shared vision of great faiths everywhere. Kennedy’s belief in faith and family would never permit the cruelty of separating migrant moms and dads from their sons and daughters and incarcerating their children in cages.

When Kennedy said we should ask what we can do for our country he spoke words of patriotism, as a member of the younger generation within the great generation who served courageously in the Second World War. JFK challenged Americans to sacrifice comfort for country, unlike some who act as though sacrifice for country is for suckers. 

When Kennedy said we all inhabit the same planet, breath the same air and cherish our children’s future he could have been speaking about the modern moon shot vision that leading Democrats champion today, to prevent our children and their children from being killed and maimed by the ravages of climate change — which will become even more deadly with four more years of the pollution-for-profit policies from Trump. 


When Kennedy spoke at the Berlin Wall he rallied believers in democracy everywhere and challenged Russian dictators, whose heirs today attack our democracy and break our laws to elect their favorites as leaders of democracies they seek to destroy.

When Kennedy proposed Medicare and said a rising tide should lift all boats, he championed a shared prosperity, not a presidency that makes the wealthiest wealthier, the poorest poorer, and the middle class endure punishing health care costs and low wages that have lagged behind for generations.

Kennedy was leader of the free world. Trump praises foreign dictators. Kennedy inspired courage. Trump foments hate. Kennedy spoke great truths. Trump speaks countless falsehoods. Kennedy brought Americans together. Trump tears America apart. Kennedy stood for democracy. Trump attacks the enemies of the people.  

The choice in 2020 is historically, powerfully and transcendently clear.

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.