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Revolt Of the Base

Updated on July 4, 2011

Crashing Our Party?

Obama should be used to taking fire from the right.  Corporations, the CEOs and their mouthpieces like Beck and Limbaugh have been directly, or indirectly through their Tea Party footsoldiers, hounding Obama since he won the Democratic nomination.  What he may not be used to is dealing with the rumbles of thunder from the Democratic base.

But what did he expect when he announced a compromise to let tax breaks for those who are likley responsible for the econmic mess we're in, and who are likley bankrolling much of his opposition?  The argument is that the GOP, in a typical act of obstruction, held the unemployed and underemployed hostage, until their funders got what they wanted.  Obama could have easily gone into a sort of campaign mode and explained how this was a case of the powerful holding the people hostage; that the same forces that have opposed so much of his agenda are at it again.

Instead, he turned his criticism on the party's progressive base, the same people who did so much of the ground work for him both in 2008, and to get his health insurance reform passed.  Is it perhaps time to consider a progressive challenge in 2012?

For one there would be a need for a candidate.  The 2010 elections may have helped to provide two possible progressive standardbearers; former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold or former Florida Representative Alan Grayson.  Both have solid name recognition and strong progressive records.  They could likely both rally and motivate the base, and hopefully get Obama back to basics a bit more.

There are two major concerns with this though.  One is a threat to party unity.  I think this tax cuts debate shows that the rift between the Democrats progressive base and it's corporate wing may not have ever actually healed.  Opposition to Bush and McCain may have been the only thing truly keeping the party together.  But with the GOP becoming the party of Beck, Limbuagh and Palin, the Democrats may still look more appealing to those undecided.

A second concern is money.  What strain would a primary challenge put on Democrats coffers?  Likley the progressive challenger would adopt more of a 'netroots'-based approach to fundraising, but some funds would still have to come from the DNC.  I saw this happen with Joe Sestak's campaign, where after the primarym he found himself short of funds.

There's one other issue as well.  What effect would this have on Obama, would he get the message and return to more populist themes?  Would he find himself in a sense running as a moderate republican against whatever far-right voice Beck and Limbaugh anoint as the GOP standardbearer?  Someone on another forum invoked Hubert Humphrey, who withstood a progressive challenge and lost to Nixon.  Of course, Nixon, would probably not be palatable to those who are drinking that corporate tea.

Progressives feel that they've been left out, yet again.  Perhaps it's time to remind Obama who got him where he is.  Maybe a progressive challenge is the best way.



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    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      i donated to sestak after the primary. he still sends thank yous. what a classy guy. i didn't know he was underfunded, would have given a bit more. toomey is a nightmare.

    • sir slave profile image

      sir slave 6 years ago from Trinity county CA.

      yeah i think Obama needs a wake up call from his base, you know the people who voted him in!!

      just a well funded challenger like dean but better and on less coffee!

    • A M Werner profile image

      Allen Werner 7 years ago from West Allis

      Day by day, week by week, month by month, politicians continually remind me why I don't vote or put any faith at all in the government. Leadership requires self-sacrifice, whether it be to the person or their reputation. It seems all too few, including Obama, are not willing to take a stand and let the evil look and be evil. If he chose not to make the deal and forgo the blackmail, he might look bad for awhile, but all those people who would suffer should then be reminded who it was that didn't want to assist them any longer. When they say they care - they only care if they are getting something beneficial in return for their vote. That's not government. That's business - and bad business in my humble estimation. Peace

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I am sorry Obama dissapointed you. He dissapointed everyone except Wall St. who got him the presidency.

      He continually dissapointed me. Even today, as I learned from Reuters that "The United States ... abandoned its effort to persuade Israel to freeze construction of Jewish settlements, officials said, dealing a blow to efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks."

      He talked a lot, mesmorized people with no intention of doing what he promised. The prison in Guantanamo Bay is still there, the withdrawl from Iraq will probably still be taking place even by the next presidential election and ya ... he's scum.

      As long as politicians are bought-off by lobbyists there will not be any form of democracy happening in the United States. The interests of the vast majority of people is not looked after, it is in the interests of lobbyists that politicians work for because those are the people writing million dollar checks.