Obama Must Face Meaningful Democratic Primaries
America's two-party dictatorship – a model unknown in any other western country – keeps reinventing the ways it closes doors not just on third party candidates but on any challenges to their incumbent presidents within the party's primaries.
Now, it is the turn of the Democrats to make a mockery out of the first amendment rights of others to speak, assemble and petition their government by running inside the upcoming presidential primary season that runs from January to June 2012. After President Obama took his liberal/progressive base for so many one-sided corporatist rides in his administration, he and his allies are very determined to give him a free ride by having him campaign around the country on Air Force One as an unchallenged, one-man primary.
This tedious scenario would have his supporters watch President Obama repeatedly respond, on his omnipresent teleprompter, to the crazed Republicans and their issues – instead of offering a ringing affirmation for his second term of the neglected majoritarian liberal/progressive agendas.
Clearly, the Republicans are not going to initiate any attention to getting out of the quagmire wars in Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan and the mini-wars elsewhere. Republicans are not going to ask why Obama did not press forward for full Medicare for all, instead of his limited, incomplete, corporate-subsidized Obamacare. Nor are the Republicans going to demand that he explain why he has turned his back on labor and the impoverished, whose hopes for change he raised so high with specific promises in 2008.
But with one in three workers receiving Walmart-level wages, with 45,000 of the 50 million people without health insurance dying each year for lack of coverage, with pensions for millions of Americans being looted or drained by their corporate masters, with tax systems skewed for the wealthy during high unemployment, and with the White House routinely engaged in constitutional violations in its foreign/military adventures, the "no debate" mantra deepens autocracy.
Forty-five Americans, including me, hailing from long records in environmental, labor, civil rights, education, healthcare, communications and the arts, have sent a letter to nearly 200 distinguished liberals and progressives inviting them to form a slate of six candidates, registered as Democrats, to participate in some 20 state primaries, starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, and take the debate on the redirection of our country to President Obama.
The very nature of the slate would not be to defeat him. It is to press him to publicly pay attention to the fundamental principles and agendas that represent the modest soul of the Democratic party, before corporate money became so dominant in its campaign treasuries some 30 years ago.
President Obama can avoid primary debates were there to be just one candidate. But six recognisable, articulate candidates from the fields of labor, poverty, military, foreign policy, health insurance and healthcare, the planet's ecology, financial regulation, political/rights empowerment and consumer protection would instill voter excitement and enthusiasm and thus be harder to ignore. If President Obama believes in his own skills, he should come out stronger than the present defensive, wobbly posture in which he has placed himself vis à vis the reactionary, aggressive Republicans in Congress.
As the Republicans and the corporate lobby continue to pull Obama toward their positions, who and what is going to pull him in a progressive direction during the 2012 campaign? Political campaigns are tugging contests, at best. At their worst, they are coronations, which is where the Democratic politicians – dropping in popularity in polls and among young people – are heading.
What is not discussed is not likely to be advanced.
© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited