From The Hill
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the tip of the spear of the Democratic comeback that began immediately after the 2016 elections. He represents the true working-class hero who offers ideas that bridge divides in American politics. Like Sanders, now a growing number of major Democrats, in different ways, are moving the party to become the party of working-class heroes who oppose President Trump.
Here is the real, clear truth that Sanders knew and Hillary Clinton neglected in her 2016 presidential run: From equal pay to higher wages to affordable healthcare, Democrats can win the votes of working-class Americans of all races and both genders not by negative campaigns, but by championing the policies that brought Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy to the presidency.
Democrats should not consider abandoning any voters. White working-class voters are united in their interests with black, Hispanic and other minority voters. That was always the lesson of the Kennedys and is the message of Sanders and groups such as Our Revolution that support his vision. It is increasingly the message of Democrats, too, and works in blue and red states alike.
Sanders is pushing for stabilizing Social Security for the long-term and increasing benefits to seniors by making the financing of Social Security more progressive. That means lifting the ceiling on Social Security taxes and asking higher-income citizens to do a little more for their country.
By contrast, Republicans are debating among themselves whether to privatize Social Security and make the program another profit center for banks, and/or to raise the retirement age for Americans, making them wait even longer for the modest benefits that lag behind real increases in cost of living.
Sanders fiercely defends the good that was done by ObamaCare while calling on America to join democratic nations around the world and enact a Medicare-for-all system of healthcare that would lower insurance premiums and reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals for consumers.
Medicare and Social Security are among the most successful and popular programs ever devised by Democrats to lift the lives of Americans, and Sanders wants to expand Medicare to make it the paradigm for healthcare in America, and also raise benefits for recipients of Social Security.
By contrast, many Republicans would prefer to privatize Medicare -- making the program yet another profit center for corporate conglomerates -- just as they are besieged by constituents at town meetings about their constantly shifting and retreating promises to repeal, replace or revise ObamaCare.
The GOP fiasco over ObamaCare will end up with Republicans, whatever they ultimately decide to do, making sure major alternatives do not go into effect before November 2018. They fear and dread the prospect that the punishment their policies will impose on Americans will be felt by voters before the midterm elections.
While Sanders has been clear as a bell for decades on these matters, the shifting sands and endless GOP retreats on ObamaCare expose their position as a political fraud. This is why during the seven years of GOP attacks against ObamaCare they have never, not once, offered a clear and effective alternative they can take to voters with confidence.
There are reasons why Sanders repeatedly polled far ahead of Trump throughout 2016, reasons why too many working-class voters who preferred Sanders in the primary unfortunately voted for Trump in the general election and reasons why Trump is the most unpopular new president in the history of presidential polling.
Democrats now get it. Ideological differences among Democrats are minor compared to policy agreements demonstrated by the brilliantly constructed -- but immediately forgotten -- 2016 Democratic platform.
Like Sanders in 2016 and today, many Democrats now campaign as and act like true working-class heroes. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), each in his or her own way, are among the working-class heroes in the Senate alongside Sanders.
One last thing: Watch closely for Christopher Kennedy, son of Robert Kennedy and nephew of President Kennedy, who has run Kennedy businesses while helping hungry children. He is running for governor of Illinois in 2018.
As an upcoming column will suggest, Chris Kennedy could well be the next star in the class of Democratic working-class heroes who answer President Trump's hate-ridden divisions with the appealing vision of a state, nation and economy in which the rising tide, as JFK famously said, should lift all boats.
Brent Budowsky is a regular columnist on thehill.com. He served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served (more...)