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Time to Talk Primary

December 13th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I will try to make this as brief as possible because I want to increase the likelihood that people will read it. If you agree with my assessment, I hope you’ll spread this around the internet far and wide, because this is a conversation that needs to happen NOW if it happens at all. Running a progressive candidate against Barack Obama will require a year of fund-raising, and the Iowa caucus is a year away.

I never thought I’d advocate challenging Obama in the 2012 election, but I also never thought that after two years of a Democratic president with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, things would still be this bad.

Foreign policy-wise, the troops are still in Iraq and our presence in Afghanistan has escalated. The prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Air Force Base are still open. The torturers have not been punished nor even investigated, and the president has now claimed the power to execute American citizens suspected of terrorism without due process of law.

Domestically, our government is still illegally spying on its citizens. Private health insurance companies still have no competition to prevent them from profiting by letting people die. Wall Street is continuing the practices that crashed the economy and unless more measures are taken it’s only a matter of time before the second crash comes. The climate change issue has gone completely unaddressed and Big Oil and Coal can continue to rake in record profits. And now, the national debt and deficit will continue to sky-rocket for a minimum of two years as the completely un-necessary and un-stimulative tax-cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans are extended. Presumably, this decrease in revenue will be balanced by decreases in spending, and it looks like Social Security is first on the chopping block.

“But wait,” you might say, “didn’t he sign a measure strengthening registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists?” Yes, you can easily rattle off a long list of small-ball accomplishments that we could never have expected from a Republican president, but most of these things can be done or un-done with the stroke of a pen. When it comes to the fights that really count, the things that go to the heart of the broken system, this president has consistently maintained the status quo.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Obama’s advisors started talking about how the tax-cut deal he struck with Republicans would actually be good for the country. Fox News commentators are actually praising Obama for finally “admitting” that tax-cuts for the rich create jobs, and because Obama has now made Bush’s economic policy his own, he has no choice but to defend it. It’s absurd to think he’ll fight to let them expire in two years if he wasn’t willing to do that when he still had wide Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.

The Democratic president will now be pushing for Republican policies and defending them with Republican talking points. Presumably, we’re going to start hearing him agree with his deficit commission that cuts need to be made to Social Security.

At this point, it has to be acknowledged that unless we issue a primary challenge to Obama, we will essentially have two Republican candidates in 2012.

The objection to this strategy is clear: A primary challenge is likely to fail and it will only weaken Obama and hurt his chances to win the general election. And wouldn’t a Republican president be worse?

Until last week I would have agreed with you. But then I asked myself this question, and I hope you’ll ask yourselves the same:

Which is worse for America? A Republican president who tries to implement Republican policies which progressives and the majority of Americans can rally against to stop those policies from going through? Or a Democratic president who acts as though he has no choice but to implement Republican policies, in which case the progressive movement is fractured and there is not enough unified opposition to prevent them from going through?

Ideally, a primary challenge would result in a true progressive in the White House who will finally draw lines in the sand and be willing to take sides with the American people and against the upper class. But if not, it’s beginning to look like a second Obama term would actually be worse for America than a Republican.

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