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morrna On August - 11 - 2011

There’s been a lot of talk about a 2012 presidential primary challenger on the left shoals of the blogosphere. There’s even been an announcement by the Progressive caucus of the California Democratic party stating that they are exploring the option. Most of this talk seems to be driven by discontent over how much ground Democrats have given to Republicans in the last 8 months or so.

A few genuinely do want to replace the President, but many merely want to see the left’s ideals and concerns hashed out in the nationally public forum a primary would provide, or they want to see if such a debate would pull President Obama to the left on certain issues. While these latter motives are constructive, there are also risks in a primary challenge or even advocating for one that could outweigh the benefits.

Calls for a presidential primary challenger seem to fall into common messaging traps that don’t help progressives on the whole. The most obvious of these is the “blame the President” mindset, namely the incorrect line of thinking that causes incumbent parties to lose when the economy’s bad and win when the economy’s good, regardless of whether their policies actually had an impact on the economy’s condition.

Many of those who rail against the President for not accomplishing things no one could have accomplished in this political climate seem to be thinking this way. The irony is that Republican leaders are looking to leverage this very line of thinking into votes in 2012. Sticking to the same mindset and tactic as one’s opponents is no way to win, and so it would be better to focus less on what President Obama hasn’t done and more on what has been done to make Congress dysfunctional, namely the radicalization of the right.

Closely related to this is how undue focus on the President distracts from what is most important to moving forward: Congress. Spreading the myth that the President can make everything better won’t change the limitations that a more liberal President would face when coupled with a divided or Republican Congress. On the other hand, if enough progressives were elected to Congress, they could exert enough pressure to make Obama have to compromise with them for a change. Congress is the front where progressives have lost ground, and Congress is where they must carry the day in order to see real change.

All this is not to say that primary challenges are always detrimental to a cause. There’s an excellent diary over on DailyKos that highlights the benefits of primary challenges, particularly in congressional races. In the upcoming presidential race, however, it is important to be careful, because the prevailing winds of economics and superficially informed public opinion will not work in the Democrats’ favor. To avoid strengthening the conservative arsenal, progressives must work hard to maintain focus on the races that will truly decide the future, and many of these are in Congress.

83 Responses so far.

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  1. Chernynkaya says:

    Morrna, great job--I should have mentioned that up front. It got me thinking about stuff. For example, I was thinking about how the Right must have felt in the 60’s and early seventies. I imagine they felt pretty much as despondent as we feel now, as they saw the Left ascending and having been out of power--Civil Rights, The Great Society taking hold--so many liberal programs enacted.

    What they did--and I don’t give them credit for actually planning everything together--was they worked quietly behind the scenes. Of course they had it much easier than we do now with all their corporate, Dominionist, and private fortunes funding their agenda. But they had the Christian Coalition working on wedge issues, they set up propaganda think tanks to change the debate and to shape public opinion. They worked on a micro-local level to elect school boards, city and state officials--who they slowly groomed for national elections. They changed innocuous-seeming laws, like the Fairness Doctrine, and under Reagan began dismantling traditional Democratic power centers like the unions. They little by little gutted regulations and oversight of Corporations and Wall St--nothing too dramatic individually but taken all together, quite devastating.

    They built around their base--the same people who have always been racists, nationalists, disenfranchised and uneducated--primarily in the South. In short, the same population who became the modern Tea Party. They’ve always been here under different names. What made them more mainstream were the “think tanks” like Cato and Heritage, which gave them the cache of faux intellectualism which helped them reach beyond the small base of Crackers.

    This took a couple of generations. And I’m drastically oversimplifying it, but the point is, they never gave up on their agenda. Oh, there were some distractions and mistakes and some reverses, but look how far they have come in their reach and scope since the Sixties. And again, they could do this because of all the money they have behind them: Mega Church money, Corporate money, and a small but obscenely wealthy group of extremists.

    As a corollary, it made me think of the roll of government too. Take China. She thinks like the Right in a way: Very long-term planning. One role of government is to make life better for its citizens and another role is to make The State stronger internationally--regardless of how well its citizens are doing. Sometimes it works out well for the citizens coincidentally, sometimes not. For the Chinese, it has worked out for their citizens. But the Chinese government, I believe, enacts policies designed to strengthen China first and the benefit to the population takes second place--or enough to keep them quiet. I see the corporate mentality as the same as China’s. And the Right wants the US to become just like China. So when someone like John McCain proclaims “Country First” he is thinking like China; he is thinking of a corporate state in which the peoples’ well-being is secondary and where the State itself serves only the State.

    If Liberal democratic ideals are to take hold, we need to think a bit more like the Right and the Chinese in the sense of their dedication and fortitude to their agendas and ideology. We need to put aside all this foolishness about primarying Obama or demanding that we get all the things we need right now. “Don’t get mad, get even” and “Success is the best revenge” seem smarter.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Cher, very nice! You summed it all up beautifully!

      One area where the repubs have topped the Democrats is with their long-term strategy. I’ve mentioned this before that I always wondered what they did when they gathered at some fancy five-star resort, paid for by the Koch brothers or another of their well-heeled friends. The results of those strategy sessions are apparent now in drastic agendas all over the country. From disenfranchising voters and suppressing the vote to stripping union rights from the working class to cutting education funding to controlling the media…all of this, I believe, are a part of the long-term plan.

      I asked a rhetorical question last year…”If they take away all our jobs, all our homes, and limit our educations, what kind of third-world country will we be in ten years?” Unfortunately, it’s not going to take ten years at the rate things are going.

      The United States of America is in dire need. We need our Elder Statesmen of the Congress to come forward. We need our Democratic representation to hold their own “strategy and planning session” to literally take back all the losses that we have sustained at the hands of some very ruthless men, especially over the last decade. We need OUR leaders to draw those proverbial lines in the sand…there are some things we will not abide, and we all know what they are!

      We as voters will have to do our part too. We must insure the re-election of Barack Obama by working as hard as we can for his campaign. A primary is out of the question. We will have to make sure that progressives are elected to Congress in the next election. We will have to encourage our leaders to refuse to give any more concessions to the extreme right wing in hopes of forging some short-term deal. We need our party to go on the offensive and make plans that favor the American people, not the corporations.

      We are hemorrhaging dollars, we are hemorrhaging jobs, our homes are being foreclosed upon by the millions, our voting rights are being taken away one state at a time, the cost of living continues to rise as middle class wages remain stagnant or decline, our country is crumbling around us and we can SEE it every day. It appears that only the republicans have a plan…and that is to continue and escalate what they have started so successfully!

      With the absorbing of the GOP into the tea party (not the other way around), we have a wonderful opportunity to finally put them on the defensive. The over-reaching teabaggers have opened the door for us to take control of the long-term strategy. It is time for our progressive agenda to be put forth. I believe this is what the American people want! We must remind them at every turn what American would become under President Bachmann or President Perry. We must control the message, because when we do, the American people are with us!

      Sorry to have gotten on such a roll this morning, but your excellent post got me thinking too! 🙂

    • agrippa says:

      Cher, that is how it worked out.
      LBJ made a serious mistake with VietNam; that helped turn the Liberals against him and gave Nixon the opportunity that he needed.
      The civil Rights and Voting Rights acts helped Nixon as well. The ‘solid south’ began to vote solid GOP. So, Nixon devised his “southern Strategy”.

      Cher, you are right about China. That is what they are doing.

      Liberals do need to devise a long term plan and long term goals. That is a very difficult thing to do, without a theoretical framework. Liberals need a new theoretic framework.

      • lynettema says:

        I see so many great posts on POV. Good minds here. What I would challenge this great bunch of minds to do is find some good slogans (the right does this wonderfully) that we can sell across the blogosphere. We need to frame this next election so that even the uneducated can understand it. This article says to me that maybe we could start with, “It’s the Congress, stupid.”

        • Emerald1943 says:

          Hi lynettema! Glad you have joined us! We have quite a group of wonderful and interesting people here, or so I’ve found since I joined. No matter what the subject, you will always find great articles and comments!

          As for your request for bumper sticker ideas, the President himself came up with a good one:

          “OBAMA CARES”, an obvious take-off on his health care critics.

          I’m not that creative but will certainly give this some thought! 🙂

        • KQuark says:

          Welcome lynettema great to see you on the Planet.

          I really like your idea.

      • Emerald1943 says:

        Agrippa, I just wrote about the same thing. I believe that the theoretical framework you mentioned could start with concentrating on revoking all the damaging policies left over from the Bushies.

        Stop the wars, to begin with! Bring our troops home. Begin funding for the infrastructure re-building we need to do. Stop funneling aid to countries that are willing to do business with our enemies…we can not afford to give billions of dollars to countries like Pakistan. (I have more to say about that and the kidnapping of the American citizen this morning in another post.) Start helping the homeowners to actually SAVE them from foreclosure. Make sure that strong financial regulations are put into place or just enforce the ones that are already on the books. Begin funding for green energy industries. Take action at the Federal level on voter suppression that is happening in a number of states across the country. And jobs, jobs, jobs! Any and every plan we can develop for jobs…that’s what the people want to hear.

        This is just a start. We all know the issues that we need our leaders to address.

        I know that many of these issues will be a “no sale” to the right wingers in Congress, but that should not deter our representatives from putting the bills out there. If they are defeated in the House, the American people will see it. I think the sleeping giant is waking up…and waking up with a bad headache from hitting our heads on the debt ceiling! 🙂 It’s about time! It’s time for a progressive agenda to take center stage. When clearly presented to the people, they favor these ideas.

        And about China…that goes without saying. They need to stop with the currency manipulation. Surely we have SOME leverage with them. After all, they need us to buy their cheap goods. We definitely need to work on FAIR TRADE.

    • morrna says:

      Thanks, Cher! I think following your comments on Huffington Post back when I was active there was what first introduced me to this site, so your compliments are pretty meaningful to me.

      I agree wholeheartedly that progressives need to take a longer view of things, and we need not to take local politics for granted. My only concern is that we not become the same as our opponents. Conservatives have built their empire in large part by convincing people to listen to certain sources and distrust all others. If liberals respond by building our own walled garden we have denied the very meaning of “liberal”. Our movement must be about setting minds free and encouraging people to think for themselves. This is messier and riskier than the conservatives’ groupthink, but if we abandon this we abandon the very heart of what we stand for.

      We must also be careful not to curry much favor with powerful and wealthy interests, lest we become beholden to them. In an age of unlimited corporate spending, it is very tempting to want to court backers with deep pockets. If we do though, we may sell the movement into slavery down the line and lose all we worked for.

      In short, I like that the progressive movement is different from that of the conservatives, even if we seem to be at a disadvantage right now. As we innovate and invest in the long term we should be careful to maintain that healthy distinctiveness.

    • AdLib says:

      Excellent summary of things, Cher!

      What’s clear about the GOP is their adversarial position towards the truth and people being well informed. The whole GOP promotional industry you describe is all about deception.

      And the vicious circle is, Republicans cut education while their masters, the corporations, spend millions to deceive the less educated people.

      There can be no democracy without an educated public and limits to corporate power.

    • KQuark says:

      Great post Cher!

      What people don’t realize is how high China’s tax revenues are but because they are essentially a business like you said they use them like a corporation with outside investments at all.

      China works in the global economy for two reasons. Firstly they keep their currency deflated so their products are cheap to buy around the world. Secondly and probably most importantly they keep wages as low as possible.

      Yes that’s exactly what the GOP wants.

  2. ADONAI says:

    First, welcome to the Planet.

    I’m totally with you on this one. Primary challenges aren’t a bad thing but challenging your own Party’s Presidential candidate has rarely been a good thing.

    And what has he done to deserve a vote of no confidence? Who would protesting Democrats run against him? We all know Republicans have no one that can beat Obama. Do Democrats? I don’t think they do.

    If they want to challenge Obama, go ahead. it’s part of the process. But it will do nothing but hurt you in 2012. You’re trying to win Congress and you expect people to award you the House while you openly challenge your own Presidential candidate?

    Obama will win, you will lose the House, and be left with nothing but your misplaced anger and the same dysfunctional government. I begrudge no one for standing on principle and exercising their democratic rights, just think it through. That’s all I ask.

    • Sabreen60 says:


      I agree with your comment 100%. We’ve been down the “primary” road before with disastrous outcomes. Really, the only folks I hear talking about a presidential primary are some folks on the far left wing of the party. However, this talk is not good, IMO. We really don’t need anything that may have a chance of depressing the vote.

      • Dorothy Rissman says:

        Sabreen, I agree with your agree. This is insane. A hard core progressive would never be elected. These emoprogs seems unable to deal with reality.

        Actually, I resent these people. It seems they are locked into Alice in Wonderland. They are still looking for their flying ponies and unicorns.

      • choicelady says:

        Strategically regaining the House and protecting or expanding the Senate are the critical factors. Even if your particular Dem is creepy, look to the issue of control and vote for said Creepy Dem. Majorities matter, even if part of the equation makes you squeamish. It’s critical to take the long view. We have 2-party system, we do not tolerate 3rd party people well (you have to know your own state AND the nature of the candidate) so accept the hand you’re dealt. This is democracy as it lives in America.

        And then -- don’t be thinking you can “show Obama” by trying a primary with him. It will put a Bagger/Dominionist in the office. Always has, always will. You would have to change the system to make a dent, but you can do harm.

  3. Emerald1943 says:

    Just a note here…the President just gave a speech in Michigan at a new battery plant, financed recently by the Stimulus.

    There was a definite change in the President’s tone!! He was fired up and challenging everyone to contact Congress to demand that they work for the American people! He showed his frustration and it was great to see! He really came down on Congress and while not mentioning the teabaggers, he did mention “a few people in Congress” in his criticisms! Now, if he will just keep up that style of rhetoric…it doesn’t make him any stronger but it can satisfy those who think that he has been weak on the issues. Superficial but useful!

    I believe that’s what the American people really WANT to hear! I know that I do!

    Go Obama!! 🙂

    ADDENDUM: Sorry, Morna! I did not mean to side-track the conversation with this comment. As a matter of fact, I believe that it fits perfectly with your comments. The President just hammered home the message that Congress is responsible for the gridlock…and it is Congress who can solve the problems. A primary challenge to the President is, IMO, just silly and counter-productive! Any other Democrat would, without significant changes in Congress, face the same challenges that we have seen from the Baggers.

    Americans have such a short fuse. They vote their frustration, not their common sense. We, as the base, must stay the course and remind them to THINK before they pull that voting lever!

    • choicelady says:

      He will always be more aggressive as a candidate than as president. He oddly believes he was elected to govern for everyone, not just those he likes.

      • escribacat says:

        Perfectly stated, Choicelady. I think this is exactly the problem that so many people on the left have with Obama — he’s “everyone’s” president, even tea baggers. Even though I disagree with just about everything that comes out of the baggers’ mouths, and even though they really piss me off, I admire that about him. He’s truly a democratic president.

        • Dorothy Rissman says:

          escribacat, I am new here. I remember when PBO was elected that November night, he made a point of saying “you may not have voted for me, but I will be your president too”.

          Do I cringe at the repugs and teabaggers and those emoprogs who push so hard against him, yes, but I knew who he was. Anyone who read his books would have known that. The 2004 speech about there no red and blue states, is what he really wants to accomplish. Dang. I want so many things also, but I do believe that huge, dramatic change creates chaos for people.

          • foodchain says:

            Welcome Dorothy. Change for some is welcome and change for most is chaotic. He knows this better than most and this is why he should be visibly ahead of the curve on this. I know that he is, but the frightened people don’t. This isn’t a “trust me” moment for them and I think if he could say, or have our (damn) leadership provide some united message, the dems would hold together better than they have been

          • escribacat says:

            Welcome Dorothy, how strange — I remember that part of his speech vividly as well. It really struck me when he said that. I believe he meant it, even though it has and continues to cost him dearly on the left and it certainly doesn’t buy him any breaks from the right.

            • Dorothy Rissman says:

              Thank you for the welcome. I learned about your site from someone who sometimes posts on ThePeoplesView.

              I think I am going to invest some time on this site.

              I think of emoprogs as those who are so emotionally involved that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Dogma.

          • bito says:

            Welcome to the Planet Dorothy. New voices are always welcome.
            I noticed you used the term “emoprogs” so you certainly not a newbie. 🙂
            A warm welcome.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Bito, YAY! 😆 Wait..you did mean winner, right, and not whiner? Oh, and yes the Hamster is one founder of the #PimpProgs!

            • bito says:

              Ha, Cher, I just saw my typo. Maybe Weiner? 🙂 A Red Hot! But Whiner for the #PimpProgs works

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Bito re below, will PimpProgs do?

            • bito says:

              Cher, “We have a winer!” #pimpprogs And I think we could all name a few, does one look like like a hamster? 🙂

            • Chernynkaya says:

              E’cat “emo”

              Short version: Teen angst, sullenness and melodrama

            • bito says:

              I like #6 Cher, change “kids” to “progressives” (see my comment)

            • escribacat says:

              Hey bito, I thought “emoprogs” was your invention. Does it refer to “emotional progressives?”

            • bito says:

              No, e’cat, it wasn’t my invention, someone started to use it on twitter, that’s where I picked it up and it is perfect. Now we need a short hand one for “donation seeking progs.” ‘”MoneyProgs”? “CashProgs” like gashogs? “CelebProgs”? Quick we need #hashtag. 🙂

              My favorite definition of emoprogs is, with my changes, from the Urban dictionary on “emo” is:

              A group of white, mostly middle-class well-off “progressives” who find imperfections in there life and create a ridiculous, depressing melodrama around each one. They often take anti-depressants, even though the majority don’t need them. They need to wake up and deal with life like everyone else instead of wallowing in their imaginary quagmire of torment.


    • KQuark says:

      It only matters if people act on what he’s saying. Otherwise it’s another example of dozens now where Obama tries to lead and no one follows.

      • choicelady says:

        I agree, KQ, but I don’t think “no one” follows. I’m seeing people breathe a sigh of relief over the tax ceiling agreement IF those people -- and they are MILLIONS -- are relying on the programs that were protected. I read a great DailyKos piece by a woman who pointed out that two of the strongest progressives -- Grayson and Feingold -- LOST because they did not connect with real people.

        We have a very serious choice, and I do not mean between Dems and GOP or even liberals and TP views.

        It is whether we pursue ideology alone or whether we serve people’s essential needs. It is the fundamental question in politics. They are not mutually irreconcilable, but we may have to make choices. I will always opt for that which, first, does no harm. And maybe helps.

        I can advocate for people who are not myself. I cannot sacrifice them.

        There is a large, tugboat-powered barge worth of ideas I have (and because I love you all, I will NOT restate them here!) and that I am not getting. So what? Things will change if we do take the long view and keep working as the Right so successfully has done. Our commitment cannot be less than a nanosecond -- it must be a lifelong process. It’s what democracy demands of us.

    • Americans really need to know the real truth about the GOP/TP congress. Especially the house. These vermin have no concern for the American people at all. Not even an iota of concern. They want those corporation dollars to keep rolling in, to keep their sorry asses in congress.

      • Emerald1943 says:

        KT, the talking heads are discussing just this subject, the fact that the President needs to stand up and put the truth about this Congress out there. If some people don’t like it, well…tough! He is being perceived by so many people out there as weak and indecisive. He is the ONLY one who can do anything about this image.

        I have been harping on “controlling the message” for a long time! This is a perfect time with Congress out of town. He has no competition for the microphone that he usually gets from the rethugs! Time for him to stand up for the American people…and for himself!

        • lynettema says:

          Congress is out of town, but there are those trolls on the presidential campaign trail that harp on PBO at every turn -- while they have NO plans to help anyone but the wealthy.

        • funksands says:

          Em, couldn’t have said it any better. Excellent.

        • Absolutely. He certainly knows they are out to see him fail and don’t care one bit about how it hurts this country.
          In my opinion, the way the repubs have been selling us down the river, to the corporations, is really no different than committing treason with a foreign nation. I really believe that.

  4. funksands says:

    Morrna, this is a nice piece. Very well expressed and thought out. A primary challenge to Obama is insanity at worst, hubris at best.

    I know a few people that think a primary is a good idea and don’t understand why I don’t. Simple, there is no viable candidate or plan that has a chance in hell of succeeding. Give me one and I’m happy to consider it.

    That is a pretty big barrier to overcome and pretty much shuts my ears to anyone that advocates for a primary.

    My attitude has always been to change the party form the inside. Work locally in your precinct to get more liberal candidates elected, work locally to get more liberals as precinct committepersons. Get involved in your state democratic party operations and find other liberals to do the same. Change will have to come from the bottom up.

    What’s great about that is that the vast majority of Americans SUPPORT traditional Democratic and liberal policies. Give them an avenue to support it on a local level, and national will eventually follow.

    Tea-partiers, evangelicals and dominionists took big chunks of political power for themselves on a state and local level just this way.

    Thom Hartmann even had a piece on the template they used to pull it off. http://www.concordcoaltion.org

    Trying to force a more progressive agenda from the top down through a primary challenge is not only doomed, but even worse, its lazy.

    • morrna says:

      Thanks, funk! I completely agree that local engagement is key to real change. So much of why conservatives support people and policies that hurt the country is that they don’t get out and see the people in their own neighborhoods and towns that their policies are affecting. If progressives can build stronger communities, we’ll be able to build a stronger national movement.

      • lynettema says:

        It is difficult to find liberals/progressives out in your neighborhood. While Republicans will trumpet their ideology over coffee, Democrats are afraid of saying anything for being shot.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      I rated it with an “up” vote, funk! I like the way you think! Cher, you have to be careful there! You don’t know your own strength! 🙂

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Terrific comment, funk! I tried to give it a thumbs up, but I think I pressed the icon too hard and broke the thumb.

  5. KQuark says:

    Spot on. Save for maybe financial reform the president wanted more liberal bills for HCR, climate change and even the Bush tax cuts he only wanted to retain those for the middle class. But that’s not what congress passed. First the more conservative Senate was the liberal bottleneck. Obviously now it’s the House. Why on earth Dems helped enable firing the most liberal body is beyond me. Worse the prevailing progressive meme at the time, thinking we would get more progressive policies by teaching Dems a lesson was absolute delusion.

  6. agrippa says:

    I do not see the point of a primary challenge.
    I consider it a misdirection of energy. A much more difficult, and in the long run, more useful, strategy is Congress.

    That is: recruit, nominate, and run, more liberal Democrats. Run an excellent camapign and get them elected. This strategy is very difficult to execute. But, I think that it a far better strategy, in the long term.

    • Marion says:

      Every time a President has been primaried,he wins the battle and loses the war. Johnson, Ford, Carter, Poppy Bush. But when the President is Democratic, the repercussions are worse. Out of Johnson being primaried, we got Richard Nixon and the beginning of the Rise of the Right.

      Out of Ted Kennedy’s hubris in 1980, we got 12 years of Republican rule, Reaganomics, trickledown and everything that led to the meltdown of the 21st Century.

      The GOP is on a mission, and this party ain’t the party of Reagan, it’s the party of the Birchers and Goldwater. Pure Libertarian and funded by the Kochs. If Obama is primaried and losesin 2012,you will not see another Democrat in the WH in a generation. This began in 2010, letting the ueber Right in the door. If this happens in 2012, already people are lining up to whack the ueber Left with the blame in this one,because they blame them for following Ed Schultz’s dictate and not voting in 2010.

      • TakeInAPlay says:

        As a country, we don’t act, we react. Look at what’s going on with the stock market and you’ll know what I mean. When voters don’t get what they want, they sit home or vote for the other guy. Well, right now they are getting screwed by the other guy and our best hope is to make them see that.

  7. This is what happens when people think mid-term elections are about the president. Too many people stay home in some sort of delusion that makes them think not voting will “show” the president how discontented they are. They greatly mistake the fact that mid-terms are NOT about the president. They misplace their frustration and anger from where it should be placed, on the laps of those congress critters that stand in the way of the president.
    All of the bullshit we are seeing now is a direct result of voters staying home during the midterms. Staying home out of childish expectations they place upon the president. They are too self centered to realize that by staying home, they may as well vote for the opposition. It amounts to the same result.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      And to think that some of OUR talking heads were actually telling Democrats to stay home! That almost amounts to treason! We are now paying the price for that idiocy!

      • Yeah, that is just unbelievably moronic. Hopefully, by the next mid-terms, people will actually use their heads and realize that it’s not about the president.
        If we don’t start electing better congress people, then we deserve what we get.

  8. Khirad says:

    On the other hand, if enough progressives were elected to Congress, they could exert enough pressure to make Obama have to compromise with them for a change.

    I’m gonna parse this a bit, but I don’t think it would be much of a hard sell. I think he’d be more than happy to sign the most liberal legislation. I think the challenges have been all about practical politics which can be achieved, not about Obama’s actual beliefs and ideals.

    I do think primary challenges on the presidential level are a horrible idea though. History bears this out. That should make us all cautious.

    Oh, and welcome!

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Khirad, agreed! Take the debt ceiling deal for example…he had to leave the revenue on the table, knowing that if that was presented to the House, it would NEVER pass! I believe he would have gladly sent that over, along with a lot more progressive items!

    • morrna says:

      I agree that Obama would go along with a more liberal agenda if he had the chance, I was mostly using the irony to make a point.

      And thanks for your welcome! This site seems to have a pretty positive community.

  9. invient says:

    I have been following some of these discussions. Bernie Sanders flat out said exactly what you have said, that by running a candidate against Obama in the primary it may pull out his leftist ideals.

    Then you make the best point anyone has made and that is that it is much more important to gain seats in congress than to bicker over the president. He is chained by what bills they can pass, but I remember a point in Obama’s presidency when Democrats controlled both houses and got nothing truly progressive done. Was this due to the bluedogs? I do not know.

    In the end, I am torn between running a primary candidate against him and not. I want someone that will look at congress and make them make progressive legislation just by bringing it up, and calling them on their BS. Then again, it would likely be easier to gain the progressive seats in congress to lead to that same legislation. However, I worry that Obama would not sign their legislation.

    I would love to hear what you think about AmericansElect.org and what impact they may have on the race.

    • Emerald1943 says:

      Hi invient!

      I think some of the lack of progress was due to the Blue Dogs’ obstruction. But that was nothing next to the obstruction of the Baggers that he has now.

      There is no other Democrat that either would or could beat him in a primary. This would only weaken him in the eyes of possible independent voters in the General Election and would be a HUGE mistake, IMHO. He’s going to need the independent vote this next time.

      We definitely have to go after seats in the House, as well as holding the Senate and perhaps picking up a few seats there as well. I am hopeful that the voters will remain really frustrated with the teabaggers and send them packing. That will mean that we will have to keep reminding them of what the baggers have done, a perfect campaign strategy!

      As I wrote earlier, I was very pleased to hear his more bellicose tone today in his speech. In my opinion, this is what the American voters want to hear from him right now. It’s a perfect time with Congress out of town. He can control that message without Boehner/Cantor/McConnell grabbing the mic out of his hands to pontificate!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      As far as I can see, AmericansElect is a classic Trojan Horse.

      Just promoted by the Colbert Report, “Americans Elect” is a shadow conservative operation to front a liberal candidate to split Obama’s vote in 2012. Here’s some preliminary evidence; I urge you to do your own research and post it here:

      1) No transparency

      1a) Funders are not public [1]

      1b) The “Candidate Certification Committee,” selected by the Board of Directors, can reject any candidate for any reason [2]

      2) Clear liberal bias in “Americans Elect” voters

      2a) Advertising on liberal shows such as “Colbert Report”

      2b) They chose a more liberal medium: likely internet voters are more liberal

      2c) So far, voters (“delegates”) lean heavily liberal [3]

      3) Despite (1), some conservative links

      3a) Daniel B. Winslow, friend to Romney, served as his general counsel, and donated to him just last month [1]

      3b) Gerald Blakeley, donated to Bush (and Nader) [1]

      3c) Conservative groups are collecting the signatures

      3ci) Michael Arno, of Arno Political Consultants, which handles more conservative cases, with sketchy practices [1] [5]

      3cii) ProVote America and Allied Data Services, self-described conservative organizations, contracted to help [4]


      [1] http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/02/3042486/commentary-beware-americans-elects.html

      [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americans_Elect

      [3] http://netinsanity.com/news/americans-elect-lets-get-more-cynical

      [4] http://irregulartimes.com/index.php/archives/2011/04/08/americans-elect-signatures-provote-america/

      [5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Arno

      [0/0] Marx Attacks

      MORE--Read this http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/02/3042486/commentary-beware-americans-elects.html

      • AdLib says:

        I found this on AE’s othe financier, Peter Ackerman:

        Over on Critical Montages there’s an interesting report on the doings of some NGO’s controlled by Peter Ackerman, a Wall Street investor who once worked closely with Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham in the 1980s. While Milken went to prison for insider trading, Ackerman walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars after the firm went bankrupt.

        Ackerman founded the International Centre on Non-Violent Conflict (ICNC) and is responsible for all its funding. It should be mentioned, of course, that the millions of dollars that is required to keep this operation afloat came out of the piracy that Milken and Ackerman conducted at Drexel Burnham. As masters of the junk bond trade, they were responsible for companies firing tens of thousands of workers as a result of “asset stripping” to cover corporate debt.

        This is a crook who stole hundreds of millions and whose ICNC organization is involved in international :

        Peter Ackerman, chairman of the board of trustees, who introduced Mr Bush, is also the founder of a separate organisation that promotes non-violent civic disobedience as a form of resistance to repressive regimes. His International Center on Non-Violent Conflict has organised discreet “workshops” in the Gulf emirate of Dubai to teach Iranians the lessons learned from east European movements.

        So, his specialty is the stealth overthrow of regimes.

        And he is a key financier of AmericansElect.

        Watch out!

        • Khirad says:

          I knew that name sounded familiar. He’s like a Gene Sharp / George Soros wannabe.

          And there’s nothing self-important about this, now is there?

          The Godfather of Middle Eastern Protest

          But yes, as to your point, whether he’s genuinely left or not, this is just how he’d go about it.

        • Emerald1943 says:

          I had also heard that this outfit was being financed by “hedge fund managers” back several weeks ago. Sorry I don’t have a link but will try to find it.

          ADDENDUM: From the LA Times

          “The group has an eclectic board of advisors that includes former FBI and CIA chief William H. Webster and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, a cofounder of No Labels, a group that seeks to advance partisanship-free politics. (Bloomberg has backed the efforts of No Labels, but a spokeswoman for Americans Elect said he is not involved in its project.)

          At least 11 of the 50 board members work in finance, including Kirk Rostron, who places investments for hedge fund managers and is one of a handful of publicly identified contributors to the group.”


          This group bears watching closely! And another link to Kirk Rostron, one of the few identified contributors:


          Doesn’t sound like your typical Progressive to me!

        • Chernynkaya says:

          AdLib--great work! I agree--this is a complete fraud and it really should be exposed. It’s like a NGO version of Arianna. And what gets me is, not to disparage us, but it took us about 5 minutes to find the dirt on AmericansElect, right? The media needs to do the same. (although props to the ones from whom we got the info!)

          • Khirad says:

            What had me? The cutesie glittering generalities and whole lot of nothing.

            The rosy perfect pureness they say they’re for just makes something inside of me scream “BULLSHIT!” -- this is SO fake!

            Even before we’d gone into this my internal bullshit meter was off the charts.

      • Khirad says:

        As if there were any doubt left Friedman can be a total chump…


        • Chernynkaya says:

          Friedman has been excoriated for that crap piece--all over the blogosphere. Even the comments on that op-ed were scathing. I so disrespect Friedman--what a self-important bloviator.

      • Cher, it’s funny that many “conservatives” think Colbert is one of them. They totally don’t get Colbert’s parody or sarcasm.

      • AdLib says:

        Cher, you rock! This fraud needs to be exposed!

    • morrna says:

      I did look at AmericansElect.org briefly. I can’t comment so much on whether it’s a sincere effort or not, but I can say that their focus on the presidential race alone disconcerts me. It’s already too much the case that Americans pay too much attention to the Presidential race and too little to congressional or local politics.

      I’m all for innovation in elections, but I think it would be better to try things like this out at local or state levels first. Wouldn’t it be great if someone harnessed the connectivity of the internet to get people more involved in their communities and connected with the politics of their area? Something like that could have averted the 2010 disaster of so many state governments flipping to red.

      As far as what impact they will have on the race, I am skeptical that they will be able to gain much traction over the well-established and -funded party machines. Still, if there are people who through their forums and activities gain a new interest in politics, that’s definitely a positive thing.

      • Emerald1943 says:


        With the ability of these groups to hide their donors, I would not be surprised if the Koch brothers and Rove pitched in a little money to them on the side. There are lots and lots of the very rich out there that would be quite generous with their money, anything to get President Obama out of the White House.

        I would not take any of the traditional views for granted right now. There is still a long time until the election…time for them to gain traction.

    • AdLib says:

      Hi invient!

      In Cher’s Daily Planet today, she has an article that shows that the percentage of people who wanted to run a primary challenger to Bill Clinton was higher than it is for Obama.

      The problem with this approach is that sitting presidents historically lose when they have a primary challenge. So, just as people thought voting for Nader instead of Gore would teach the Dems to be more Progressive…and brought us Bush…so would a primary challenge to teach Obama to be more Progressive make it more likely for us to have a President Perry or Romney.

      We’re all frustrated by what’s been going on but it’s important to keep our eye on the ball. Obama is not the problem, he’s not blocking Progressive legislation and putting America back to work.

      It is solely the Repubs controlling the House and filibustering in The Senate that obstructs progress.

      I think it behooves us to focus our energies on addressing the core problem instead of falling into the GOP-plotted trap of blaming Obama for the economy and government not working.

      As for AmericansElect, I would suggest caution about them. They have hidden who’s behind their substantial financing and provide no names or people involved in their group except for two people. It doesn’t feel right at all to me.

      Go to their site, try and find ANY information about who’s behind it and who financed it:


      To get on the ballot in 50 states and gather millions of signatures takes millions of dollars and yet this alleged populist and open group hides who put those millions in? I believe that Bito uncovered that a hedge fund is behind it. That makes this all highly suspect.

      • invient says:

        Thanks for that reply. I would very much like to avoid a rerun of Bush. I see that congress is the most important to take back, and will direct my energies towards that goal. The republicans sure due plot a tempting trap though.

        The reason I brought up AmericansElect was because I saw their CEO(?) on The Colbert Report (last night or two ago) and he said that they take no money from corporations or PACs… I’ll be more cautious with them, and will look into that possible hedge fund support.

        • Khirad says:

          I just got alarm bells going off. We’d discussed this group a bit already, and I’d seen him here and there giving little interviews on cable news, but on Colbert he just struck me as slimy. I was having trouble buying any of it. I’d like to take their test, but they want me to register as a delegate first. If you’re just gonna try and be a spoiler, well eff that!

          I can’t give any actual reasons for why I get this vibe. It’s just instinctual. Too good to be true, Pollyannish, and it doesn’t sit right with me.

      • Khirad says:

        I was gonna mention that Cher link too. Great synchronicity.

    • morrna says:

      Remember that in 2009-10 the President’s agenda was held up by Senate Republicans’ unprecedented abuse of the filibuster. Could a stronger President have made better headway even against such opposition? Perhaps, but it’s important to give blame where blame is due, and in that case much of it rests with Senator McConnell and his gang.

      I did not know about AmericansElect.org. I’m intrigued, and will let you know what I think when I check it out. Thanks for the reference!

    • Khirad says:

      I think that org is incredibly shady and the spokesman a little too polished and slick. I smell snake oil.

      I have no doubt Obama would sign such legislation. I’ve never questioned his personal politics, just his technique and resolve in taking it to the foe sometimes.

  10. TakeInAPlay says:

    I absolutely agree. Obama can’t do everything alone and he needs the backup of Congress to pry the repubs feet from the sand. The focus here needs to be getting the Tea Partiers in line and stop the obstructionist governing they have brought to Washington. Mitch McConnell said his main goal was to prevent Obama from being re-elected. Instead of having Obama’s back, we have been snipping at his heals. Yes, I’m pissed off at his weak-kneed negotiating but we need to remember that he took the wheel of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. When Harry Reid looks progressive, it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves, again, and work locally to get the Congress we need to avoid the many other icebergs in our path.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey TakeInAPlay, nice to see you.

      The one absolute here is that the Baggers and GOP would never vote for any revenues of any kind or anything that would help the economy or Obama.

      McConnell, DeMint and others have made clear that their top priority is making Obama and the economy fail so he will be a one term president.

      There is nothing that even the most liberal President could do right now to pass Progressive policies. Even a President Bernie Sanders would be under attack right now for being weak and ineffective.

      No Dem would look good as President in the current situation. Governing is a voluntary thing, people have to want to govern. When two people are trying to lift a something, no matter how much one person wants to do it and comes up with myriad ways to do it, if the other one refuses to, it doesn’t get moved.

      So, the power is really in the hands of the one who refuses to lift their end, they define what happens in the end.

      As we’re agreed, the solution is not to replace the one trying to lift, it’s in focusing on replacing the one who refuses to lift.

      • TakeInAPlay says:

        Nice to be seen. Now that NN is done I’m hoping to visit more often.

        The idea of focusing any energy on replacing Obama is the dumbest use of our strength. National politics begins in our front yard and that’s where we need to start working. I was at the CDP eboard meeting when the Progressive Caucus voted to explore a primary challenger to Obama and even the chair of the caucus thought that was insane.

        When the repubs took the house and everyone was doing a chicken little, I knew that it was not a true majority because the TPers were not repubs but libertarians at heart. They ran as repubs because it was easier to get elected by highjacking an existing party in turmoil than to run as a third party candidate. If Boehner was truely looking out for the welfare of the country, in the debt ceiling debate he would have unified the moderate repubs and the dems into an agreement and that would have been enough to work around the others. It would have been political suicide for him but his job is not that secure anyway. And who knows, there are enough voters who were concerned with the direction the debate was going, and unhappy with the outcome, that maybe he would have survived. What is the stronger position to hold? Confidence with the party leadership or confidence with the people who voted you in? It would have been interesting to watch. And since Boehner is probably about to be replaced in his leadership position anyway, it comes down to which one would have helped him sleep at night.

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