AlterPolitics New Post

Progressive Leaders’ Call For ‘Democratic Primaries’ Is Really Just A Q&A Session For King Obama

by on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 4:32 pm EDT in Election 2012, Politics

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.



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It will be interesting to see if King Obama and his royal court will even allow these public, and potentially embarrassing, debates to happen.

Obama’s Top Strategists Appear To Have Forgotten That The Economy Decides Elections

by on Monday, August 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm EDT in Economy, Politics

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reminds us that Obama’s new all-time-low approval rating (dipping below 40% for the first time) is less an indicator of a President’s reelection prospects than the state of the economy:

Ronald Reagan started the third year of his presidency with his approval rating at 35 percent, while George H.W. Bush, who went on to lose reelection a year later, had approval ratings in the 50s in August of 1991.

What should worry the Obama administration is the reason Reagan won and Bush lost — economic growth. Strong economic growth in the later stages of the first Reagan administration resulted in his winning reelection by a landslide—while a faltering economy ensured the elder Bush would lose reelection to Bill Clinton.

So Obama supporters should be very concerned when the President’s key political advisers tell the New York Times they remain committed to giving the appearance of addressing the country’s economic free-fall, rather than taking the more difficult — and politically risky — steps required to actually fix it:

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Even if the ideas cannot pass Congress, they say, the president would gain a campaign issue by pushing for them.

If Democratic partisans are truly concerned about getting stuck with the ‘greater of two evils’ as their President for the next four years, they might seriously want to reconsider their rationale for NOT primarying this President.