Many of you have been active participants in the effort, begun here in September, to craft a long-term response to the utter selling out of average Americans by the Washington and Wall Street elite.
jeffroby has called it “Dump Obama.” I prefer Primary Obama/New Progressive Alliance. (And the really optimistic call it pointless!)
Beyond the names (and name calling) comes a clear choice, and how we choose might very well determine whether we succeed or fail.
jeffroby is of the opinion that a challenge to Obama is the main thing, and that it might well push the Democratic Party to the Left. He further believes in a “two-track” approach, where a populist (i.e., well-known) candidate would be the primary election challenger, leading what he’s called an independent entity within the Democratic party. Upon that challenger being denied the nomination, the independent entity would then break away from the party and put up a different opponent in the 2012 general election because, as Jeff wrote a few days ago:
In any event, whoever primaries Obama will likely sell us out. I go into this with eyes wide open, you don’t have to warn me about being sold out. It comes with the territory.
I believe, since we know this already, we should take steps to counter it right from the get-go. Rather than a two-track approach, I favor a comprehensive one, whereby our challenger – in order to become our challenger in the first place – must not only agree to run against Obama in the primaries, but to run as the new party’s candidate in the general as well.
Call it a loyalty vow.
This difference in approach may seem small; something we can deal with later. There is already much agreement that the main thing is the platform on which the challenger runs. That we must get away from identity politics and focus on the issues – the Democrats’ approach to which, even as I write, is promoting militarism, destroying what’s left of the middle class, and utterly ravaging the poor.
But even at this early stage, strategy is not a small consideration. Whether we like it or not, there is a bright line between those who believe the Democratic Party – and more broadly, the two-party system itself – is utterly and finally bankrupt, and those who believe some sort of meaningful, results-for-the-victimized duality can be restored by reforming the Democratic Party.
Whichever of these beliefs you might hold, that bright line exists nonetheless – and if we are serious about changing things, we ignore it at our peril.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on seating a steering committee of prominent, respected Lefties for this effort. So far I’m batting 1.000 – the first two people I’ve approached have agreed. They are names you will immediately recognize, and while I am not ready to disclose them just yet, here’s the key point: One is willing to participate only if the goal is the establishment of a new party which seeks to bring together the disparate factions of the Left, toward the greater objective of giving the Left a real voice again. This person is even averse to a primary challenge, but would be willing, I think, to support it as a strategic first step – provided the ultimate goal is to give Lefties a unified voice which is not tied to the Democratic Party.
The ultimate form of political revolt is taking the very rules which the ensconsced powers believe protect them and turning them to the advantage of those seeking change. Our electoral process, as now operated, offers just that kind of opportunity.
Nothing is stopping us from both challenging Obama in the primaries AND running THE SAME candidate against him in the general, thereby leveraging the support that candidate – and with them, our platform – has generated throughout the primary process. Nobody is deluding themselves into thinking we can win, whether in the primaries or the general – unless “winning” is defined as launching a real Lefty counterpoint to the Right (Democratic), further-right (Republican) and daftly right (Tea) factions which now comprise our one-party system.
Moreover, naming a new candidate for the general means throwing away months of hard work in the primaries – work that could be focused on telling voters the truth: “We know we will be denied the nomination. When we are, if the movement we are building is to last, we will need your support. Won’t you become a charter member of the New Progressive Alliance, and help us provide a real voice for the Left in this country, long after the 2012 election is over?”
Insisting on the candidate’s loyalty right from the outset would also avoid the “tradition” of the challenger “throwing their support” to the nominee. This (outdated, ridiculous, anything-but-democratic) notion of “rallying ’round the victor” has clipped the wings of countless fledgling third-party efforts in the past. But by holding our challenger to a higher standard – namely, of putting our platform and its survival first, by agreeing not to “sell us out,” as Jeff puts it – we can assure that, this time, things will be very different indeed.
If the past two years have not fully and finally convinced us that the Democratic Party – and with it, the (so-called) two-party system – is irretreivably broken, I can only wonder: Are we really that stupid?