It has taken some time for the bloom to fall off the rose, but the liberal / progressive base of the Democratic Party is getting restive. The base is spitting mad over what it considers the multiple sins of omission and commission that Barack Obama has committed. There is even talk of a Primary challenge to the President. Nothing in present day politics points out the fecklessness of the Progressive base than this move.
First there is the unavoidable fact that no Progressive hero is willing to play Saint George to Obama’s dragon. Far too many politicians are like Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, more than willing for someone else to take up the good cause, but unwilling to do the deed themselves. One wonders how committed these Progressive stalwarts really are to the one true faith. There seem to be no end of armchair generals, but trigger pullers seem to be thin on the ground.
But this is only the beginning of the inept political gamesmanship of the Progressive base. The supposed goal of a primary challenge is to bring Obama back to the left; to halt his rightward drift. One can only hold their head in their hands to hear such considerations. Lefties; Obama is just not into you, he never was, he never will be. He will give a nice speech, toss the most meager of bones, and then govern right. If the Progressives continue to act like a jilted girlfriend to Obama’s political Lothario, they will continue to get played. A temper-tantrum Primary challenge to Obama will only play to the contempt that Obama obviously has for the base.
If you go up against an incumbent President, like Ronald Reagan did, and Ted Kennedy did, you go in to win. You go in to win, and damn the consequences. This is politics 101. The liberal base could not be more incompetent in forwarding its goals to not understand this. To Primary a President of your own party means you have accepted a “damn the torpedoes” mentality. It means you have had such a break with the leader of your Party, that your only concern is to ruin him or her politically. To put this crudely, the goal of Primarying Obama is not to deliver a slap to the face, but to gut him like a fish. The goal is to put such a hurting on Obama that no future Donkey politician would dare sell out the Democratic base.
The down-side to this is that a Republican Operator may get the gold ring. Shredding Obama may mean eight years of Multiple Mitch Romney in the Oval Office. The hard nut is that the Progressive movement must accept that possible result, and be fine with it; as long as they can mount Obama’s head on their wall. You must accept an Naderite world view to accomplish this. You have to accept the notion that the choices offered by the present political parties are the choice offered a Thanksgiving turkey : slow roasted or deep fried.
A serious Primary challenge to Obama would take a bloody-mindedness that seems lacking in the Progressive contingent. All the political Berzerkers seem to be on the right side of the political spectrum. Progressives make a fetish of their reasonableness. Most times Progressives lose the fight before they have even engaged the massed hoards of the right. Progressives have been a punching bag ever since Ronny Ray-Gun strolled on the political scene. The left have a reputation of folding like origami.
How the left counters this long history of losing their shirts is anybodies’ guess. How they actually manage to get a message out, any message out, in the white noise of the 24 hour news cycle is another issue. The current muddled message has no chance in the he said-she said, brain-dead, narrative the corporate media vomits up as “news.” In the search for ”balance”, corporate news has abandoned any attempt at truth-telling or fact checking. Obama can hippy-punch / liberal bash his opposition in oblivion and not even break a sweat in the present media environment.
Finally any opponent of Obama, especially from the left, is going to have to deal with the race card. The bitter truth is that if Obama does get into any difficulty from a challenger, he will pull this joker out and play it. His supporters are more than willing to play racial politics. The only way to counter such a play is to call BS. The only response to the charge is to perform an act of political jiu-jitsu; to show how the charge of racism is act of political bad faith. Such political messaging will take nerves of hardened steel. Bill Clinton is something of a template with his Sister Soldier moment. Of all the political bear traps out there, the issue of race will be the hardest to deal with for any opponent of Obama. There is enough real race-based animosity hurled at Obama for his supporters to use as a bogus charge of racism against a challenger from the left. The challenger will have to keep hammering away on core economic issues and core entitlement programs that Obama is trying to undercut, and how that relates to the lives of African-Americans to the point of nausea and beyond. That opponent will have to do that in full knowledge that they might only secure a minority of the minority for their troubles. While support for Obama has fallen to 50% among African-Americans, the bitter truth is that it is still much easier for Obama to coax this cohort back home, than for an opponent to persuade them to cut the apron strings.
Obama probably knows all of this; which is why he has no obvious concern about a challenge from the left. The talk of a challenge is just that: talk. Obama is fully aware of how feckless and clueless his left wing opponents are; and how easy it is to logroll them. The summer of Progressive discontent may just melt away like a ice cream scoop on a hot August day. There really is no political downside for Obama in shafting the Democratic Party core, time and time again. For there to be a down side that base has got to go at Obama with political murder in its eyes. It has to make clear that you do not cross the base without an expert, well provisioned team of Sherpas, and purpose built equipment. The present chatter by Bernie Sanders et al is worse than useless; it is further proof of political incompetence from the left.