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Thursday, August 04, 2011

CA Dem Party Progressive Caucus Passes Resolution Urging Consideration of Primary Challenge to Obama; Is New Mexico Next?

Do you think it's time for a similar resolution urging exploration of a primary challenge to Obama to be introduced within the Democratic Party of New Mexico? What are your thoughts? Express yourself in the comment thread on this post.

Images-1"We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore."

Last Saturday, July 30th, an estimated 75 members of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party (CDP) overwhelmingly passed a resolution in support of exploring a Democratic Party Presidential Primary challenge to President Barack Obama. Click for the resolution text (pdf). Passage of the resolution represents the first such action among Dem state parties, but it may not be the last. If you haven't noticed, there are growing and passionate feelings of anger, disgust and betrayal on the part of many progressives and rank and file Dems in response to the debt ceiling fiasco, as well as other actions taken by the Obama adminstration that go against the grain of traditional Dem Party values.

The resolution includes a rather lengthy list of reasons the Caucus believes Obama needs to be confronted. It begins:

WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the challenge presented by President Obama's negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans, we are challenged by President Obama in the following ways:

First among them is:

His unilateral closed-door budget offer to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which endangers the New Deal and War on Poverty safety nets.

The list also includes criticisms of Obama's actions related to unauthorized wars, illegal use of drones, the Patriot Act, extending the Bush tax cuts, big bank bailouts, failure to end the foreclosure crisis, a flawed health insurance bill that lacks both a public option and single-payer plan, failure to protect whistleblowers and habeous corpus, ignoring international law, FBI raids of anti-war progressive protestors, increased arrests and deportations of undocumented workers, facilitating privatization in education and housing, breaking promises to the Labor movement and failing to adequately protect the environment and address climate change.

The resolution also refers to the "historical significance of the Eugene McCarthy/Robert F. Kennedy anti-war challenge to President Lyndon Johnson," following Johnson's decision to escalate the Viet Nam war. It then notes the similarity between that situation and "the danger and betrayal that the current 'Grand Bargain' represents to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's signature gift to all Americans, Social Security and the New Deal, a point of pride for all Democrats."

It concludes by saying that the Caucus....

...will begin the process of contacting other Democratic organizations, Democratic Party members and public organizations that share our views on the issues and which seek to alter the course of history by exploring other steps to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge to President Obama.


According to a piece on the San Francisco Chronical Politics Blog

[Progressive Caucus Chair Karen] Bernal doesn't plan to ask the full California Democratic Party to approve the resolution. It was meant more as a statement of conscience than a desire to back a rival to Obama, she said. "Is there a sense of desperation in this?" Bernal said. "I would have to say yes."

Instead, according to a spokesman, the Caucus "hopes that Obama would rework his priorities to respond to the needs of working class Americans in order to get progressive support in 2012." Not surprisingly, California Democratic Party chair John Burton doesn't agree with the resolution.

A story in the LA Progressive reports there was some backlash from the Executive Committee of the CDP that resulted in a challenge to recertifying the Progressive Caucus. The challenge has reportedly been tabled until the Committee's November meeting.

The Audacity of Nope
The story also includes a video of a speech and session called "The Audacity of Nope" that was conducted by the Progressive Caucus at the meeting. It's well worth a look.

The session begins with the questions: "Where do we stand as Democrats? Do we have a bottom line? How do we bring the party and its elected leaders back to our principles?" The speaker goes on to say, "We believe it's time to just say nope to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security ... to continued and more tax breaks for the rich ... to corporate takeover of our country ... to any further erosion of our civil liberties."

She continues, "Some folks are going to tell us that having this discussion about how completely off track our Party has gone from its roots is heresy. Well I'm here to tell you it's not. This is about our loyalty and commitment to who we are as Democrats. It's about saving this Party, not about destroying it."

Not Just in California
Sound familiar? It should. Similar questions are being asked right here by members of the Democratic Pary of New Mexico, and I imagine similar concerns are being discussed among Democrats all across the country. I'm not the only one who thinks the horrible handing of the debt ceiling "negotiations" was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of Dems having had enough of phony "centrism," "nonpartisanship" and "balance." We have seen how such buzzwords have actually come to mean almost a complete surrender to righ-wing and corporatist forces and positions on the part of our President and way too many other Democratic leaders, office holders and candidates. We've had enough.

Images So far, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders -- an independent who caucuses with Dems -- has been the only member of Congress besides Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to bring up the possibility of a primary challenge to Obama. By all accounts, Sanders has been an articulate and principled voice for a growing number of disenfranchised and disenchanted Dems.

The congressional battles will now move on from the debt ceiling vote to the machinations of the so-called Super Congress committee that will be in charge of coming up with detailed recommendations for draconian cuts that can only make this "jobless recession" worse. Expect more from Sanders and a growing number of critics who strongly believe progressives and the Dem base generally have to unite and fight now, or face a future that's increasingly dominated by Wall Street and global financial bosses.

What Do We Want?
We want a leader and officeholders who are ready to truly fight against the dangers of the tea party-led extortion and waylaying of the levers of government. We want a President who uses the bully pulpit effectively and often to confront and clearly define how awful the GOP strategy and tactics have become -- and to passionately persuade Democrats and others who care about the nation to counteract these forces in no uncertain terms.

The President and others in positions of power need to rally the American people against the dark, anti-democratic forces currently on display in the halls of Congress and elsewhere, and put forth a clear and powerful vision of what Democrats believe in and are willing to fight for to the end.

We want Democrats in power to draw a clear line in the sand in defense of our principles, and to vehemently promote that line as a non-neogotiable barrier to further right-wing assaults on everything we believe in. And if they refuse to do it, we need to come up with ways to challenge them and create a movement dedicated to achieving change we can believe in on our own terms.

So do you think it's time for a similar resolution to be introduced within the Democratic Party of New Mexico? What are your thoughts? 

August 4, 2011 at 02:01 PM in 2012 Presidential Race, Corporatism, Democratic Party, Obama Administration, Progressivism | Permalink


You guys are asking for the world but have you been out in the streets protesting the GOP and Tea Party - it is not all of President Obama's fight we need to back him up - he is our HOPE still - put pressure on the right not on Obama

Posted by: Barbara Lemaire | Aug 4, 2011 3:52:27 PM

Back him up in what? Now that he has given away everything that can help our economy or create jobs, what are we supposed to back him up on? He has tied the hands of all the Democrats in Congress and everything else for maybe a decade to come. It is time he wake up and stop being the good boy who doesn't like fighting. Politics is a fight and with this awful right wing it is a harder fight than ever. He needs to be pressured to fight for the people instead of taking the easy way out and kissing up to his rich campaign donors.

Posted by: Ron | Aug 4, 2011 4:02:56 PM

We need to do something. His spokespeople insult progressive and the base constantly. They come right out and say that they don't have to pay attention to us because where else do we have to go-they think they have us trapped. I say let's at least urge someone to challenge him so he's not so cocky. He keeps saying he wants to win independents and moderates but if he doesn't hold his base he will lose.

Posted by: Democratic Wing | Aug 4, 2011 4:15:16 PM

When the actions of any President threaten the future prosperity of the nation, then a primary challenge is of course justified.
Ben Ray Lujan is the only politician that has earned my support in 2012, by voting against the economic catastrophe which is the Debt Ceiling Deal.

Posted by: Art Jaquez | Aug 4, 2011 4:18:33 PM

A couple of days ago I was already to go "Anybody but Obama"... his turncoat Trojan horse behavior has so belied the principles espoused during his campaign.... altho a few clues leaked out I guess... but they certainly didn't in the rally I attended.

However, I was reflecting on the Supreme Court last night... and once again fear struck my heart re the possibility of more right wing appointees... the citizens united ruling opened the door to the BS we're seeing now.

So it is with sadness and a heavy heart that I fear a primary opponent would weaken Obama and allow a Rethug to win... so I am not FOR Obama, I am for a more progressive Supreme Court... which we have a stronger chance of getting under him.

We are so screwed.

Posted by: carol | Aug 4, 2011 4:18:40 PM

You do understand that if he gets second term and if he gets to appoint to the Supreme Court it will not be someone progressive? He didn't pack anyone progressive by any stretch in his first term and in his second he won't have to please anyone.

I think primary challenges make candidates stronger not weaker. At least we can make noise about one to get his attention don't you think?

Posted by: Mac | Aug 4, 2011 4:59:50 PM

The stock market crashing to day is proof that this deal is not good for the country. Obama should have called the tea party's bluff and dared them to crash the debt ceiling. The more you give in to bullies the worse they get. Everyone knows this from schoolyards. Now they will use this same trick every time and what is to stop Obama from caving the same way every time?

He is listening to all the wrong people. We have to make him listen to us. Threatening a primary challenge is one way. Do you have any others?

Posted by: James | Aug 4, 2011 5:52:43 PM

Thanks for all the support. Even if we can't find a super challenger, the main point is to stoke the fire. As far as Supreme Court appointees? The Republicans are so used to Obama and the Dems caving, Obama would be lucky to get Robert Bork on the court without cutting taxes to corporations to -25%.

Posted by: Chris Niehaus | Aug 4, 2011 8:05:02 PM

2 words: John Anderson.

Is everyone here too young to remember 1980? How the hell did a renowned idiot actor-turned-governor sweep a sitting President in a landslide, again?

We can't afford another Reagan Era. We've spent too much of our ecological, fossil fuel and trade wealth for that.

So what are your realistic ideas for pressuring the President we have?

Posted by: PhoenixRising | Aug 4, 2011 9:17:11 PM

Funny you should bring that up. We are already having an era that is worse than Reagan and Obama is helping to make it that way through either horrible negotiations (not likely) or being on that side to begin with. At least Reagan did raise taxes a number of times.

The realistic idea is to make Obama defend his actions. Or to at least threaten to do it so he can't be so sure that he can spit in the face of his own party. We need to make all his high paid "advisors" and "strategists" nervous so that they are thinking of something other than how to make Obama into pablum so dull that even "moderates" will like him.

If we don't and he should win a second term, it will be a nightmare beyond our wildest dreams. Tim Geithner and Larry Summers will be on top of the world!

Posted by: gila m. | Aug 4, 2011 11:06:34 PM

He should have a challenger. Blind allegiance is not wise.

Posted by: Anita Walsh | Aug 4, 2011 11:51:09 PM

I don't know what John Anderson has to do with it. May as well bring in Perot or Nader. These were not primary challengers. Ted Kennedy challenged Carter, and some say that is what led to his defeat. I think what led to his defeat was that he never led his own party – and I think Carter is a great man, and a good president.

But for those who counsel caution because he's not as bad as the worst guy you can think of, I have one question: would you say the same thing in support of, say McCain, if the alternative was Bachmann? If we're always fighting not to lose too much ground, instead of fighting to gain ground, we will eventually end up in enemy territory.

I don't tend to think the stock market is a plumb line for whether a good economic decision was made. The market is for speculators, not investors, these days, so it's only a short-term view that it represents.

What is a good plumb line is whether more people are finding work. And we're not. And whether we are addressing long-term energy, environmental, and educational needs. And we're not. These conversations are not even on the table, for the most part.

President Obama talks a great game. Damn: he's really inspiring. I would love to have a challenger up there at a primary debate to respond to one of his most soaring rhetoric flourishes with the words, "Wow, that sounds great. Why haven't you done anything like that in your first three years in office?" As it is, I think America is going to be rooting for Obama to get pounded in a debate. All the Republican has to do is talk about his record and the economy, and we have someone new in the White House.

Posted by: John McAndrew | Aug 5, 2011 12:09:10 AM

I was not an Obama backer in 2008. I voted for him because he was the Democratic nominee.

His chances of losing the presidency is in my book are about 55%.

The Republicans smell blood and see the liberals abondoning him. If they are correct the odds of him losing go up bu about 10% to 65 % chance you will end up with a Republican.

That is what I call a strategy

Posted by: Preciliano Martin | Aug 5, 2011 7:30:17 AM

If there is a problem with strategy it is on the part of Obama. What is he doing to win the liberal and base votes? It is not up to voters to support a candidate no matter what he or she does. It is up to the candidate to win people's votes by doing things that earn the votes It's about time Obama did something to win the votes of Democrats instead of insulting us.

Posted by: Old Dem | Aug 5, 2011 8:19:45 AM

I would vote for either Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich or Alan Grayson. Make President Obama earn the nomination.

Posted by: Paul Eichhorn | Aug 5, 2011 9:33:46 AM

Split the Democratic Party further and the presidential election will be a Republican landslide. This is NOT the time to caterwaul about our mistake. We screwed up, now we have to take our medicine. But the medicine will taste a little better if we can keep the presidency and turn things around. A challenge to President Obama will guarantee that our next president is a Republican because there aren't enough progressives or unhappy Democrats to prevent it.

Posted by: Uncle Crusty | Aug 5, 2011 10:24:46 AM

As it stands there are only far right wing voices engaged in the national conversation including, Obama's. We need a primary challenge from the left desperately to give voice to classic Democratic values. Democratic values match the desires of "the people" as polls show. Our present politicians are ignoring these mainstream Democratic values.
Even if the primary challenge loses, it will lend that voice to the large majority of Americans in an effort to pull this nation back from the neo-liberal(con)abyss.
I have to say I am discouraged by the mealy mouthed (again!) statement above. The verbiage just makes me sick, sick and hopeless.

"exploring other steps to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge to President Obama."

Should be stated, "We are going to primary the president."

According to a piece on the San Francisco Chronical Politics Blog,
Progressive Caucus Chair Karen(aka "squeaky mouse") Bernal doesn't plan to ask the full California Democratic Party to approve the resolution. It was meant more as a statement of conscience than a desire to back a rival to Obama, she said. "Is there a sense of desperation in this?" Bernal said. "I would have to say yes."
How about saying,"We are desperate, we are going to primary the President. If the California Democratic Party is not with us, they are traitors to Democratic principles."

Posted by: qofdisks | Aug 5, 2011 10:25:10 AM

I'm with gofdisks. If Obama can't handle a primary challenge from a progressive/non-corporatist Dem then he has no business winning. He gets away with saying all kinds of good things but then doing the exact opposite. It's time he called on this stuff. Let him answer to the people!

Yes Bernal should have made a much stronger statement!

Posted by: Sean | Aug 5, 2011 11:49:53 AM

A primary challenge to Obama is not in the cards. The best that somebody might do is make it more likely that a Republican will win this year.

The problem goes way deeper. If there had been blogs in past decades there would be a record of pretty much the exact same thing from elections past.

The problem is to build up a base of support for candidates at the congressional level and to make it possible for continued progressive strength in 2016 and beyond.

There has not been sufficient opportunity to build strength with Republicans in the White House or holding majorities in Congress all too much of the time for the past fifty years.

What is needed is a forward looking mobilization that is based on actually dealing with reality in terms that make sense. We don't have resources to waste.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Aug 5, 2011 2:47:12 PM

Stuart knows definitively it's not in the cards. I see. His suggestion: "What is needed is a forward looking mobilization that is based on actually dealing with reality in terms that make sense." If anyone can find any specific or practical meaning in that sentence, please advise.

While you're woking on that, Stuart, the rest of us will be thinking of ways to pressure Obama and publicly counter his cowardly positions that favor big donor outfits.

Posted by: Dan | Aug 5, 2011 4:00:46 PM

I think it is pretty obvious what reality is. There is not a lot to like about it. But there it is.

If there had been blog posts in 1980 they would have been exactly the same. History getting repeated would not be a good thing.

The problem revealed in this current state of affairs is that, nationally, there is not a progressive infrastructure that can create enough pressure. It takes time to build such a thing.

It is like the old saw that the roof doesn't need repair when the sun is shining, but when there is a storm it is too wet. The cycle repeats and repeats even though it can be anticipated.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Aug 5, 2011 7:20:48 PM

The important difference between the 1980 John Anderson candidacy (which I supported) and a primary challenge to Obama is that the challenge will end with the primary. I don't doubt that Obama would win, and I would LOVE to see an active expression of liberal Democratic values. Otherwise all the action and focus will be on the Republican primary.

Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Aug 7, 2011 1:59:28 AM

Succinct and on-target. What Ellen said. I had forgotten: when there is no primary, there is no coverage for your issues, and the other party gets all the air time. Yet another reason why Obama should face a primary opponent.

Posted by: John McAndrew | Aug 7, 2011 7:09:25 AM

I am all for it, myself. In fact, I am surprised after everything that has happened, no one on a large scale has brought this issue to the forefront before. Definately someone in the mold of an Alan Grayson, Dennis Kucinich, and Bernie Sanders. The right-wing of the Republican Party has gotten way out of control now, and (with all due respect to the president) Obama has caved just too many times, and seems to lack the courage (and maybe even the integrity) to stand up to them, like they need to be stood up too, for all our sakes. And they seem to know it! Not to even mention some others within the democratic party who stood down, as well. To the point were it actually seemed like they deliberately blew the last election. So much so, that it ushered in a landslide of individuals into Congress that are the most extreme, scariest, and craziest group of lawmakers I have ever seen. In my life! We Progressives have to stand together on this, and learn a lesson from the Tea Party, and create our own well organized grass-roots movement. And at the very least, make sure that just as they got their candidates elected to congress by yelling louder then everyone else, we can do the same. But in a much more rational (and effective) manner...

Posted by: Vito Masilotti | Aug 28, 2011 6:35:36 PM

Oh, and one more thing. Not to go off on a rant here, but I strongly believe a big part of the Progressive platform should be to demand that the big money be taken out of politics. (Something the Tea Party has never ranted about themselves). I empatically believe that is the root of many of the problems we are seeing with our politicans, not really (or half-heartedly) doing the right thing, for the good of the people. I believe political campaigns should all be publicly financed. So that the individuals who are running for office and elected to Congress serve the people who elected them. Not their corporate donors (and lobbyists), who fund their campaigns. That is the true meaning of being a public servant, and being an elected official, for all the right reasons...

Posted by: Vito Masilotti | Aug 28, 2011 7:21:43 PM