Whoever primaries Obama will be the next Democratic president

Discuss! From AmericaBlog:

During the Seventies, we had two ineffectual presidents unable to deal with the economic and other hard times that confronted them. Both were primaried and both went on to lose the general election. However, their parties had very different fates after those elections.

After Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford, he did not stop campaigning and organizing. Not only did he go on to win the next time, but his 1976 campaign is basis of the Conservative Movement that has dominated American politics ever since. In retrospect, conservatives would surely say that the Reagan Revolution and all that followed was worth it to suffer through four years of Carter. Additionally, what most people remember of Gerald Ford is Chevy Chase’s imitation, and no one brands his failures onto the Republican Party.

Even thirty years after Carter’s defeat, we can’t use the word Liberal because the Republicans succeeded in branding him a “Liberal.” Of course, Carter was a moderate at best and actually started the country on the road to de-regulation. But for anyone old enough, his feckless “malaise” is forever mixed up with the word “liberal” and the Democratic Brand.

The question with Obama is, can we afford not to primary him?

If Obama continues on his present course and does not show real strength and leadership, he will lose. In losing, his ineffectualness and lack of spine will become that of the Democratic Party and Progressives. The Left will be redefined in terms of Obama’s positions, as the Republicans try to roll back even those small accomplishments. And we will be out of power for another generation.

In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, a far-sighted scientist can see that the Galactic Empire is crumbling and is to be followed by a thirty-thousand-year-long dark age, but with the right steps, the darkness can be limited to only a thousand years. There is probably no saving an Obama Presidency that stubbornly refuses to save the country and itself. There may even be no way of preventing the Republicans from taking the White House. But conducted properly, a primary challenge now can result in victory: if not in 2012, then in 2016.

Frankly, a 2012 challenge has a better chance of winning than conventional wisdom gives it. The fight for a nomination is about the base and appealing to its parts. At this point, what part of the base has Obama not disappointed and angered? Challenging Obama may be like pushing on a partially opened door.

We saw in 2008 that organizing a primary campaign apart from the built-in support of the established party can create a national movement for change. A successful campaign has to recruit and organize supporters around the country, it must create its own message machine and rapid response team, and it must create donors and fundraise successfully in order to support all of these efforts. Modern technologies make this even easier than it was in the days of Reagan’s 1976 campaign. But, to really succeed, the movement cannot be discarded at the moment of the Inauguration (just ask the poor folks trapped in the tunnel with the Purple tickets).

Personal Note: I have worked in Democratic politics for 25 years and continue to make my living working with campaigns and organizations – because many of the views I feel I need to express would be considered subversive – I have to blog them anonymously. So I will be taking the pseudonym of Tom Wellington and will be also blogging at my own blog — What is to be Done.

11 thoughts on “Whoever primaries Obama will be the next Democratic president

  1. At this point, what part of the base has Obama not disappointed and angered?

    I dunno. The people of color that Aravosis ignores and bans from his site foir daring to comment against his own personal hobbyhorses?

    Aravosis is a racist pig. Anyone he supports, I will not.

  2. I don’t know anything about the writer’s ” personal hobbyhorses,” but his arguments make a lot of sense… No one expected Obama to be a true progressive, but the fact that he broke almost every campaign promise and caved to the GOP on almost every issue is unforgivable. Even if he were to win re-election, we would all lose. I think real Dems are a lot angrier than the talking heads are saying, and that a third-party progressive with charisma and guts and empathy with working people would give Obama a run for his (corporate) money.

  3. There are a lot of racial issues woven in and around this, and I’ve said all along that a primary challenge to Obama will be taken as a slap at the African-American base — one that could destroy what’s left of the Democratic party. In online circles right now, white progressives and black liberals are attacking each other. So here we go again.

    It really bothers me that as bad as these unemployment numbers are, they’re more than twice as bad for black Americans, and that sickens me — because Obama isn’t doing a thing that will help them after he was happy to accept their support. While middle-class blacks may have the economic luxury of making Obama into a hero, and can identify with him, I wonder how poor people of color living in the poverty of the inner city feel about Obama now.

  4. personally, i think there is almost no chance of obama having a serious primary challenger (and by “serious” i mean someone who the president risked losing a single state primary or caucus).

    as for david’s comment above, it isn’t quite true that obama has “broke[n] almost every campaign promise”. i have this kind of discussion with people all the time, sometimes it comes down to people not knowing what obama actually said during the campaign (especially when the subject is iraq or afghanistan). polifact has been keeping a running count here, though i don’t always agree with all of their judgment calls.

  5. So far, the only thing giving Big 0 a good re-election chance is that Republicans plan on handing it to him. If they ran a candidate normal people could vote for, Obama would be toast.

    As for primarying Obama, in 2008 the Democratic party machine simply discounted as many votes as they needed to in order to hand him the nomination. He wasn’t even Prez then.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for primarying the liar, but just because you have to do what’s right. Not because of any hope of success.

  6. Noz, as you may remember from your dating days, guys get into trouble when their actions imply certain things to women — but they feel they’re blameless because they never promised anything in those specific words. You can be legalistic and say he never actually promised certain things, but he sure went out of his way to make people believe it. (For instance, labeling himself a “progressive.”)

    And he sure as hell has broken his promises about continuing the Bush torture policies and civil rights violations. Remember how excited everyone was about getting a constitutional law professor as president?

  7. And he sure as hell has broken his promises about continuing the Bush torture policies and civil rights violations.

    yeah, i agree. i also think that the polifact site lets him off easy on those points. (see this one, for example)

  8. I think we should forget about Obama and whether or not anyone runs a primary against him. If we work toward having progressive majorities in the House and Senate, we don’t have to care who’s president.

    Carolyn Kay

  9. Oh, and the fact that Tom Wellington refuses to tell us his real name is part of the ridiculous farce that is our national politics.

    What is he afraid of? Why won’t he stand up and be counted?

    Carolyn Kay

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