Tag: dump

Dump Obama: we who have nothing to lose

Battle lines are being drawn. Finally. The Obama tax cut deal was a betrayal too far. And now Dump Obama has become part of the national dialogue big time. First there were a few squeaks. Then columns by Michael Lerner Save Obama’s presidency by challenging him on the left, and Clarence Jones Time to Think the Unthinkable: A Democratic Primary Challenge To Obama’s Reelection, among others. On the New York Times front page, Matt Bai of the Times wrote a skeptical piece Murmurs of Primary Challenge to Obama (demoted from its original title Talk on the Left of a Primary Challenge), in which he tellingly concludes:

should the president’s progressive critics warm to the idea, it might not take a particularly credible primary challenge to weaken Mr. Obama’s chances for re-election. It might only take a challenge designed to do exactly that.

This was followed by the inevitable counter-attack, from the likes of Ed Kilgore and David Broder, plus any number of lesser lights, touting three points:

(1) The tax cut deal was a masterful stroke – stimulating the economy and ensuring Obama’s re-election in 2012; and

(2) No “serious” challenger would dare risk their credibility and prestige by entering the primaries, the ultimate proof being that they haven’t done so yet.

(3) A primary challenge would only serve to harm the very Democratic Party that we all hold so dear.

Dump Obama: time for a candidate

When I first proposed that it was time for a Dump Obama movement, I argued that the immediate task was to build a movement. I did not want to focus on organizational questions, did not want to get hung up on questions of who the candidate would be. Build the base of support and the candidate(s) would follow.

I was immediately assailed by supporters and detractors alike who insisted that I had to have a candidate. At that time, I restated my position on building the movement first. Without passing judgment whether my original assessment was correct or not, it is now time to find that candidate (or candidates).

Taking into account overt Dump Obama, third party, throw-them-all-out, write-in Public Option, and abandon the Democrats sentiment in the aggregate, I’ll say that Dump Obama sentiment was greater than even I had thought. The Dump Obama concept has gone viral, the movement exists in nascent form, a topic on Democratic Underground and MyDD, among Democratic Party sites. A topic of speculation in mainstream venues. Not because we’re so mighty (I’d be a liar to pretend otherwise) but because Obama is doing so badly. So to echo Robert Redford from The Candidate (1972), “What do we do now?”

We indeed have to move to tactics. So let’s talk candidates.

Dump Obama: working today

On October 7, OpenLeft ran a most charming piece by Mike Lux, Obama comes through on foreclosure issue: what’s next?

But then, that most delightful and rare of Washington moments happened: the system worked. Consumer advocates started raising hell on the blogs and in traditional media, the White House started looking more closely at the issue, and literally within a matter of hours, Obama announced that he was not going to sign the bill … As soon as the issue was raised, the White House team focused on it, and made the right decision quickly …

But I think it is fair to ask ourselves what happens next and how the progressive community should respond to it … The question now is how progressives respond if Obama does start to move in a more progressive direction … progressives should be ready to move to meet the President halfway and work with him in the areas where he does move our direction, and we shouldn’t always assume the worst. We should keep our healthy skepticism, push hard when we need to push, but be ready to engage when a door is opened to us to engage on.

In other words, the entire episode is a validation of the incrementalist, cooperative liberalism that has brought the progressive forces to the sorry state we are now in.  More tactically, it is a plea for us now to go full steam with the Democratic GOTV operation.

Dump Obama: more urgent than ever

Since I floated the call for a Dump Obama movement, I’ve gotten much helpful feedback.

My original draft, “Time for a Dump Obama movement,” was based on the broad strokes, which I believe are essentially correct.  But I’ve since taken a closer look based both on these responses and from Obama’s contemptuous speech at that infamous $30,000/plate fundraiser.

First, many of the comments, I believe, took my call as something that should be done INSTEAD of what others were already doing.  I was then given alternate approaches, including Vote Green, Dump the Senate, Dump the System, write-in Public Option, Don’t Vote, work the Dem primaries.  Others pointed out that 2012 (when Obama would face a primary challenge) was a long ways off, and I didn’t address what was to be done with the upcoming November elections.  Allow me to address them in no particular order.

I call for a movement.

Not, for instance, an organization or a campaign committee.  People keep saying, you have to have a candidate first.  No, the movement comes first.  Is there any movement already?  That’s a complicated question, since the concept of movement involves a lot of things that can’t be measured like frogs in a pot.  Movements have organizations, members, slogans, actions, demands — even contradictory demands — but they are not reducible to any or all of them.  A movement entails some sense of common identification.  Some sense of motion, of development.  A movement entails some sense of hope, to use a word that has turned to poison but must not be surrendered.

Time for a Dump Obama movement

A couple of weeks ago, in comments on various blogs, I threw out the notion that it was time to start a Dump Obama movement.  It stirred up a variety of responses:

        The move is premature.

        We need to concentrate on further exposing Obama first.

        The masses aren’t yet ready.

        We need to overthrow the entire system, not just Obama.

        Congress is a worthier target.

        Republicans are worse.

As well, a significant number of folks were either intrigued or downright enthusiastic.

Since then, I have seen a growing stream of posts illuminating the extent to which Obama has been initiating right-wing policies which can in no way, shape or form be blamed on his inability to control a Republican-dominated Congress, among the best being Glenn Greenwald’s “The profound mystery of the ‘enthusiasm gap’ “.  Especially interesting was a September 8 piece by FireDogLake’s Jon Walker “Why Should I Care? Leaders Lack Good Reasons to Vote For Democrats – or Against Republicans”, in which he attempts a hardball analysis of the consequences of a Republican takeover of Congress, noting:

I’ve been told for two years a mere 59 Democrats in the Senate are powerless due to the filibuster; by this same logic, we have nothing to fear from Republican gains because they will never be able to get anything through a Democratic filibuster, and even if they do, Obama can veto it … Talk of how a segment of Republican candidates favors privatizing Social Security or eliminating Medicare does demonstrate that they are out of touch with mainstream America, but in all honesty there is zero possibility that either move would come about as a result of Republican action alone, with or without winning narrow control of the House.

At the same time, the din of hysterical “Republicans will eat middle-class babies” articles and comments are becoming a steady chorus, as erstwhile radicals clarify their loyalties.