BY BRENT BUDOWSKY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 03/09/18 11:45 AM EST
On March 19, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will host a town meeting about income inequality that will feature Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), film producer and director Michael Moore and the New School economics professor Derrick Hamilton.
This subject is one of the most important issues facing all Americans in their daily lives. It strikes at the heart of the matter of jobs, wages, economic opportunity and the core fairness of the American economy.
In my column this week in The Hill, I urged Democrats to focus intensely on uniting the party and winning control of the House and Senate in November, in the most important midterm elections in a century.
Let’s consider three hypothetical Democratic tickets in 2020, which provide alternate models for how Democrats could regain the presidency and govern alongside a Democratic House and Senate after the presidential election.
Democrats are blessed with a large number of excellent potential candidates in 2020 and should consider and confront the mythology spread by Republicans and some insider Democrats that the most progressive Democratic candidates are not the most electable Democratic candidates.
The first model for a Democratic ticket in 2020 would be led by Sanders and Warren. This would be the progressive populist ticket offering the most bold and sweeping agenda.
The second model for a Democratic ticket would be led by former Vice President Joe Biden, running with a vice-presidential nominee such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on a ticket that combines vast presidential calibre experience and a widely respected younger generation progressive leader.
The third model for a Democratic ticket would be led by Rep. Joe KennedyIII (D-Mass.), a rising star of House Democrats, running with a vice presidential nominee such as California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who formerly served as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in Congress, or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
This ticket would offer a bold and daring move for dramatic political and generational change.
Behind the scenes of the national Democratic Party, it is commonly accepted wisdom, though not proven by facts, that the most progressive candidates are not the most electable candidates. In some states and districts this might be true.
But, in terms of winning the national popular vote and an electoral vote majority, there is a credible case that the most clearly progressive and politically aggressive Democrats can indeed win, and potentially win big.
The most important and powerfully persuasive data in modern American politics is that virtually every poll in 2016 showed Sanders defeating Donald Trump by 10 percent or more. In the Real Clear Politics summary of 2016 polling, Sanders ran ahead of Trump by an average margin of more than 10 percent and often by much larger margins.
Whether one supports Sanders or any other potential candidate in 2020, the case is clear that a strong progressive program and message would give Democrats a decided advantage in any campaign against the scandal-ridden and crony-capitalist-dominated presidency of Trump and his GOP allies in Congress.
The town meeting that will bring national attention to Sanders, Warren and Moore will dramatize why most voters will economically and financially benefit by a program that maximizes income equality, economic justice and fairness and economic opportunity for poor and middle-income voters in red and blue states alike.
While I could support Sanders, Warren or any of the progressive Democratic change candidates who could run on the ticket in 2020, it is important to disabuse the false notion, which is contrary to the facts demonstrated by national polling throughout 2016 and beyond, that progressive candidates are less electable.
Americans want a clear message of progressive change and would enthusiastically support a Sanders-Warren ticket, or any other ticket running on a similar program in 2020.
Whoever the Democratic nominee in 2020 is, he or she should, and almost certainly will, run a visionary and aggressive campaign that promises to bring the next great era of progressive leadership to America and could well realign American politics for a generation after the post-Trump era.
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 U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.