Do you want Barack Obama to get a primary challenge from the left?
Note that this is not the same question as whether you want him renominated, or even if you would support a challenger in the primaries. And, for what it's worth, I think a primary challenge by anyone who would be a plausible nominee is very unlikely -- and even a Pat Buchanan type challenge (that is, someone who is not a plausible nominee, but would receive national attention) is unlikely. But regardless of how likely it is: would you like it to happen?
I think it might be healthy if someone like Russ Feingold threw his hat in to challenge Obama on his abysmal civil liberties record. If nothing else, it could help raise awareness of the issue, and maybe even nudge Obama a bit to the left. It would be nice for someone to challenge the steady rightward drift of foreign policy and civil liberties in DC.ReplyDelete
Absolutely not. It would be a distraction and a waste of time. By all means, Obama needs vigorous criticism from the Left, especially on the need for more stimulus spending. But recall that many criticisms from the left (e.g., that he is too friendly with Wall St., which is true) often get read by voters as indicating that the GOP would do a better job than him on the issue (as happened in 2010).ReplyDelete
Nope. I think a left-wing primary challenge would only hurt the POTUS's reelection prospects, and I don't think it would cause him to move significantly left. I'd certainly consider supporting Russ Feingold in 2016, but not in 2012. Any other likely lefty challengers leave me unimpressed.ReplyDelete
The biggest advantage Democrats have this cycle is the plethora of candidates and no front-runner amongst Republicans. They have to raise money to battle one another, and then to battle Obama. It seems likely to create serious fundraising fatigue; something that plagued McCain last cycle, if you'll recall.
I agree with Bullied Pulpit that we need to pull at civil liberty issues more; but there's opportunity to strip libertarian-leaning conservatives away from Republicans this way, so I'm not sure it needs a leftist voice, and think it more likely to be taken seriously if it's presented as centrist position.
Every sitting president in the last 100 years who has received a serious primary challenge has either been voted out of office or ultimately declined to run for another term. (Taft, Ford, Carter, and Bush Sr. fall in the former category, Truman and LBJ in the latter.) I'm aware that most analysts suggest the primary challenges were more a symptom than a cause of these presidents' weaknesses. Nevertheless, I think these challenges do weaken the presidents and decrease their chances of reelection.ReplyDelete
The idea that these sorts of challenges will help push the party to the left (or to the right, if you're a Republican) is questionable. I think some Dems have gotten too enamored by what the Tea Party accomplished in 2010, using primary challenges to move the GOP sharply rightward. First of all, the TP was taking advantage of a year that was going to be bad for Dems, no matter what. Second, these challenges came at a price, as we saw in Delaware, Nevada, and elsewhere. Finally, it's far from clear that this kind of strategy would work for a presidential election.
Moreover, the GOP has been steadily moving rightward over the past few decades. The TP couldn't have happened without a powerful right-wing infrastructure already in place, including the pulpit of Fox News. Progressives should be working on building up their own infrastructure rather than trying to tear the party apart in presidential races. To some extent, they've been successful over the past decade: who in the '90s would have imagined that there'd be an entire cable network with some genuinely progressives as commentators, or that progressives would come to dominate much of the Internet political world?
We also need to face the fact that civil liberties will probably never be popular with the American public. If you think I'm being defeatist, I should point out that there are a lot of issues on which progressives do have an edge over conservatives in public opinion, particularly when it comes to economics. That doesn't mean we should give up fighting for the unpopular stuff (after all, the GOP has been highly successful at implementing unpopular policies such as tax cuts for the rich), but it does mean we have to stop assuming the public is just about ready to embrace the whole progressive agenda as soon as we learn to communicate it better.
I would like the president to run his re-election campaign against the Republican Party, not the left wing of the Democratic Party.ReplyDelete
I would like the president to run his re-election campaign against the Republican Party, not as if he were a member of it from the 1980s.ReplyDelete
It may actually benefit Obama in the general if he's challenged by a more liberal opponent in the primary, since it'll serve to neuter any suggestions of "being too liberal" from the Right. He'll appear a bit more moderate to the conservatives in America that think he's a Leftist radical.ReplyDelete
No- it would give Obama and his team too much excuse to dismiss legitimate disappointment on the left as just a campaign tactic. And since Obama would be likely to prevail, that could seriously set those issues back.ReplyDelete
Gonna have to agree with those who don't want to rile Obama up against the left--it's plain he doesn't like us that much, and I'm sure he'd be happy to have an excuse to ignore us even more then he already does. The only circumstance I'd support a primary challenge would be if there was a good chance the challenger would win the primary. It's like good old Machiavelli said: "Never do an enemy a small injury."ReplyDelete
Somehow the words "selection bias" spring to mind, but add one more to the no tally anyway.ReplyDelete
No, thanks. A challenge from the left would hardly move Obama in that direction. He's hardly going to response to liberal criticism with a hearty "you're right!" and then promptly change policy. Rather, a primary challenge from the left would give Obama reason and opportunity to trot out his justifications for the disappointing policies he's already enacted.ReplyDelete
No of course not. Serious or even semi-serious primary challenges are the kiss of death for incumbent presidents running for re-election. No disagreement I have with Obama on policy or tactics is worth increasing the chances of whatever lunatic wins the GOP nomination becoming President.ReplyDelete
A more interesting question for a future weekend would be whether liberals would rather Obama run for re-election or would they prefer him decline to run and let somebody else be the Democratic nominee.
A few points:ReplyDelete
1) There are primary challenges and there are primary challenges. Could a candidate run an invisible challenge -- and not get on a single ballot -- and still influence the President's agenda?
2) I don't see anyone taking up the challenge. However, there are other tactics. I've said that the Wisconsin showdowns are partly the result of unions getting ticked off at the anti-goverment worker talk coming from White House. Without the chance to a poll, they can revert to more direct action.
3) A million man march to support Bradley Manning? Other protests. As above, there are more ways to embarrass a sitting President, although I have to wonder how much coverage they would get.
Tim Kaine getting shut out, for instance, would be an interesting proxy.
"I've said that the Wisconsin showdowns are partly the result of unions getting ticked off at the anti-goverment worker talk coming from White House."ReplyDelete
Weird way to respond to such a thing- but then, I'm not sure such a thing was actually occurring outside of the stretchiest definitions of those terms.
Yes, a challenge from the left that creates energy could be good for the Dems as long as the primary campaign doesn't get dirty. The debates would become left v center-left, both attacking the far right. The energy on both sides could change dynamics in the press and public mind, away from thinking that the choice is between Ryan and conservative Dems.ReplyDelete