Nation needs a Democrat to challenge Obama

(Cross-posted from Think it Through.)

The nation desperately needs a Democrat to challenge President Barack Obama for the party’s nomination for president in 2012.

The tipping point came last week when Jackie Calmes reported in The New York Times: “When West Wing officials discovered that the Democratic National Committee had mobilized Mr. Obama’s national network to support the protests [in Wisconsin and Ohio], they angrily reined in the staff at the party headquarters.”

The Times story goes on to say that administration officials saw the events beyond Washington as a “distraction” from the optimistic “win the future” message that the president unveiled in his State of the Union speech. He spent last Friday talking about the need to “educate and innovate” with Jeb Bush in Florida on one of the president’s begging-for-bipartisanship road shows.

That’s right – a Democratic president considers the men and women who have stood out in the cold in the Wisconsin winter to have a voice in their government a distraction from his positive message.

If you take all of Obama’s positions – too cautious to curtail the behavior of the Wall Street bankers, signing onto a health care plan that amounts to what the Republicans offered ten years ago, jawboning about overregulation of businesses, supporting a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, pandering to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a time when big business is working with Republican governors to kill off what is left of organized rights for workers – you come to the conclusion that he should run as the Republican nominee. And he might win that nomination, if this were 1968 instead of 2012. His positions could fit comfortably into a debate among Richard Nixon, George Romney, and Charles Percy.

Obama’s theme of educate and innovate to win the future is positive and forward-looking, and has the perfect pitch to serenade the Rotarian Republicans of the ‘70s in Grand Rapids and Peoria. But not this year. The Republican party of 2012 has become enslaved to a narrow brood of Christian fundamentalists and extreme taxophobics – people that do not want government to do anything except what they can easily see helps them directly. That is 24 percent of voters.

The country needs someone to offer a completely different vision of America that is held by millions of Americans who do not fear enforcing the antitrust laws against heath insurance companies, or putting Wall Street executives in jail, or raising taxes on wealthy – and even non-wealthy – people for the public good.

The country may turn away from such an agenda, but it deserves the debate to be something other than how big a tax cut we should give to each other. If Obama runs unopposed, the nation will continue its slide into selfishness and a government philosophy of every person for himself or herself. His presidency has ignored the country’s moral and material depression caused by government and corporate malfeasance, and the need for institutional change.

America needs a candidate to do for the nation on a number of issues – chiefly taxes and the relationship between government, business, and individuals – what governor Scott Walker did for Wisconsin on unions. That is, to place the choices clearly in front of people rather than avoid what is really going on.

Right now it seems possible that the Republicans will nominate someone to push this debate about choices to a “Wisconsin” level.

It would be refreshing if the Democratic nomination process could at least begin such a debate – the way Bobby Kennedy’s candidacy forced Hubert Humphrey to reevaluate his position on the Vietnam war in 1968 and the way Alan Cranston and Gary Hart generated a national attention and a stronger Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, on nuclear disarmament and gay rights in 1984.

In the narrative of American politics in the early 21st century there is a role on the left for someone to claim. We now know that role will not be filled by Barack Obama.

Someone else needs to try out.

John Russonello is a partner with Belden Russonello & Stewart: Public Opinion Research and Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. He writes the blog Think it Through.

Tags: 2012, obama, Democrats (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Dumb

It would be refreshing if the Democratic nomination process could at least begin such a debate – the way Bobby Kennedy’s candidacy forced Hubert Humphrey to reevaluate his position on the Vietnam war in 1968 and the way Alan Cranston and Gary Hart generated a national attention and a stronger Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, on nuclear disarmament and gay rights in 1984.

Just as it was "refreshing" to see Humphrey and Mondale lose to Nixon and Reagan?  Give me a break.  This post is idiotic.

by MNDem 2011-03-10 04:24PM | 0 recs
Brilliant

Obama would lose to any Republican in the field because no one trusts him anymore.  He has aliented all sides thoroughly.  A primary challenge is the Democrats' best hope.  There is no downside.

by ralphlopez 2011-03-10 09:56PM | 0 recs
RE: Brilliant

Yes, there's no downside.. for the GOP. Give them my regards, will you.

by Sumo Vita 2011-03-14 12:41PM | 0 recs
Dumb Dumb

Any challenge to Obama will move scardey Dems to the RIGHT, not to the LEFT!!

And a splintered Democratic Party can hand the election to the Neandrethal Republicans.

P.S. When Humphrey lost to Nixon in 1968, that was NOT a good outcome at all for the Dems. I regret my angry vote for Dick Gregory rather than Humphrey. (I was outraged that Humphrey was afraid to challenge Richard Daley when Daley's cops pummeled me and other peaceful protesters at the Dem Convention in Chicago.)

by MS 2011-03-11 03:06PM | 0 recs
GOP wet dreams

How much is the GOP paying Russonello to write this vacuous an analysis?

If Obama has been less than effective, it's because the self-serving imbeciles that pass for congressional democrats never had the gonads to back him on many of his initiatives, choosing instead to pander to the right-wing idiocracy. Precisely who exactly does Russonello think is capable of capturing the imagination of the electorate enough to swing the 2012 vote in another Democrat's favor? The ENTIRE democratic rank-and-file have been under attack since '08.. Obama just happened to be the face of the revolution that attracted the most flak.

Russonello can whine all he cares to about corporate malfeasance, but we've seen in '10 how easily tea party malcontents were duped to ensure, well, many more years of even more malfeasance - 41 billion in oil industry tax breaks, anyone? In the face of such self-evident stupidity, Russonello's limp ideological posturing isn't going to break any new ground. Yes '12 will be a challenge, but our best hope is to ensure that he draws the kind of minority support Obama saw in '08, and hope for at least a slim national majority.

by Sumo Vita 2011-03-14 12:40PM | 0 recs
RE: GOP wet dreams

Ok, so Russonello also advocates for Tea Party darling Sharon Angle over Harry Reid on his last blog. That's hardly the credentials of someone with the best interests of Democrats at heart. As I thought.

 

by Sumo Vita 2011-03-14 12:55PM | 0 recs
Hamsher! Hamsher! Hamsher!

Wait, let me explain...

Hamsher!  Hamsher!  Hamsher!

sigh

by Strummerson 2011-03-15 09:17PM | 0 recs
RE: Nation needs a Democrat to challenge Obama

The one about Sharon Angle is a bit snarky, but makes an excellent point about Harry Reid.  Other entries would get loads of recs on dailykos if posted by the popular people here.  Well thought out and well supported.

 

 

chooseoutdoorkitchens.com, directtohomeappliances

by melanie14 2011-03-16 06:13AM | 0 recs

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