Progressive Leaders’ Call For ‘Democratic Primaries’ Is Really Just A Q&A Session For King Obama
There’s no better way to bury all chances for a REAL Democratic presidential primary contest — though the odds of such a challenge was highly unlikely — then to call for “Democratic Primaries”, with the assurance that the sitting incumbent will “emerge from the primary a stronger candidate as a result.”
Yet that’s exactly what Progressive leaders, led by Ralph Nader and Cornel West, did when they unveiled their proposal to challenge President Obama in a 2012 Democratic Primary contest.
The group is sending a letter out to prominent progressives to encourage them to run. It hopes to select a ‘slate‘ of six well-recognized, highly-qualified candidates — each representing fields where Obama has betrayed progressive values, and instead, bent to the will of the corporate right. The fields would include: labor, poverty, military and foreign policy, health insurance and care, the environment, financial regulation, civil and political rights/empowerment, and consumer protection.
Their intent is to force the President to answer to his base; to ‘seriously articulate and defend his beliefs to his own party’, since a significant portion of progressives believe Obama pulled a ‘bait-and-switch’ after being sworn in as President in January 2009.
The letter explains the rationale of the six-person slate as opposed to a standard primary challenge from the Left:
The slate is the best method for challenging the president for a number of reasons:
- The slate can indicate that its intention is not to defeat the president (a credible assertion given their number of voting columns) but to rigorously debate his policy stands.
- The slate will collectively give voice to the fundamental principles and agendas that represent the soul of the Democratic Party, which has increasingly been deeply tarnished by corporate influence.
- The slate will force Mr. Obama to pay attention to many more issues affecting many more Americans. He will be compelled to develop powerful, organic, and fresh language as opposed to stale poll-driven “themes.”
- The slate will exercise a pull on Obama toward his liberal/progressive base (in the face of the countervailing pressure from “centrists” and corporatists) and leave that base with a feeling of positive empowerment.
- The slate will excite the Democratic Party faithful and essential small-scale donors, who (despite the assertions of cable punditry) are essentially liberal and progressive.
- A slate that is serious, experienced, and well-versed in policy will display a sobering contrast with the alarmingly weak, hysterical, and untested field taking shape on the right.
- The slate will command more media attention for the Democratic primaries and the positive progressive discussions within the party as opposed to what will certainly be an increasingly extremist display on the right.
- The slate makes it more difficult for party professionals to induce challengers to drop out of the race and more difficult for Mr. Obama to refuse or sidestep debates in early primaries.
Ralph Nader has a long history of running as a third-party Presidential Candidate. In doing so, he bucked heads against the establishment wall, time and again. So he fully appreciates the antidemocratic tactics used to marginalize would-be challengers. The lessons he learned are fully reflected above in making the case for this 6-person ‘debate slate‘.
But think about the message this sends to the millions of Americans, already cynical about their representation in Washington: to get their voices heard in the establishment’s media arena, the candidates of their choice must first vow to not actually pose a challenge to the sitting incumbent’s nomination. Even if the incumbent has been a colossal failure in the eyes of those Americans.
In other words, if they first sign away their rights to democracy, the establishment MIGHT allow them a debate or two.
Ralph Nader appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnel last night which I highly recommend watching.
In it he tells Lawrence:
A slate by definition is not a challenge to his nomination. It’s a challenge to his conscience, a challenge to his backbone.
It will be interesting to see if King Obama and his royal court will even allow these public, and potentially embarrassing, debates to happen.