The so called "progressives" seemed to have decided that the President deserves to have a primary challenger in 2012. His capitulation on the Bush tax cuts was seen as the final straw. I personally think that the President made a mistake in negotiating as if he were at a disadvantage when clearly he had the support of a majority of Americans. He also went back on one of his biggest promises of his Presidential campaign. Those are reasons to be angry with the President, but to call for a primary challenge is political suicide.
The last sitting President to face a primary challenge was Jimmy Carter and before that it was LBJ. In both instances the fissures in the Democratic party led to narrow victories by the Republicans which was then followed by overwhelming electoral victories in the following Presidential election. This situation is unique however. In this case, the first African American to ever be elected to the office would be the one facing a challenge from within his own party. Intra-party fights are incredibly messy affairs and this one would be even more divisive than the anti-war effort that caused LBJ to quit the race before he was even officially a candidate.
The is no doubt that African Americans are the most loyal of the parts that make up the democratic party base. In the last election the percentage of black Americans who voted for President Obama topped 90%. There is no other group that can be counted on to vote democratic as consistently as blacks. Now this group, that has been so loyal to the party, finally and almost unbelievably got to vote for someone who looks like they do. They came out in record numbers and enthusiastically cast their vote for Barack Obama. Some felt as if they had lived to see a miracle. Some, who had lived through the hell that was Jim Crow, cried at just the thought of being able to cast their vote for a black presidential candidate. Some were so filled with pride that they were almost overwhelmed by the opportunity to cast their vote.
Now less than two years into his presidency, those same people are being told by the progressives that this President, their President, is unfit to lead the party. They are being told that even though he has faced unprecedented opposition from the Republicans, an onslaught of negative press from the right , and questions about his religion and place of birth from his first day in office, he has failed to live up to the legacy of FDR. who had historically large majorities in the house and senate to work with They are being told that even though his own party controlled both houses of Congress, and were too weak to pass a stronger version of health care reform, that ultimately it is his fault. They are being told that despite the fact that the coalition that elected him quickly became as quiet as a church mouse that it was his fault that those on the right were overwhelming the political conversation. They are being told that even though his term is less than 1/2 over, there is nothing that he can do to salvage it. They are being told that this President, their President, is being held to a standard that it would be impossible for anyone to live up to.
I would ask each and every person who thinks of themselves as a progressive and who thinks that the President should face a challenger in the primaries and indeed should be replaced at the top of the ticket, what they think will happen to those most loyal of democratic voters when they see this President, their President, attacked openly by the party that they have given so much of their political energy to? Who do you think they will choose? What side do you think they will choose to be on? Do you think that a group of people who have been historically abused, neglected and subjugated will suddenly decide to turn against one of their own?
The truth of the matter is that if the progressives really want Obama out as the standard bearer for the democratic party in the next election, they can probably make it happen. As we know, it is only the most highly motivated who vote in primaries. If the progressives were to get behind one candidate, they stand a good chance of making a primary challenger into a serious threat to the President. And if the President were to lose to a primary challenger, I will ask again, what would happen to the most loyal and consistent of democratic voters? How do you think their reaction would impact senate races and congressional races? I'm not saying that African Americans would turn to the Republican party, but if this President, their President, was somehow removed from the ticket for 2012, the repercussions would be far reaching indeed and would reverberate for years to come. The Republicans would hold an unassailable majority in the house and senate. The Supreme court would be lost for the next 30 years. The Republican agenda would become the only agenda. That is what we face if this insanity of a primary challenger is carried out.
Are the progressives willing to put this bullet into the head of the democratic party for a generation? You bet your sweet ass they are. Because what is better than fighting the good fight? What is better than going down in flames? What is better than being the angry young man beating your head against the wall? What is better than winning a battle that you know in the long run will lose you the war? After all, it's all about the fight.
This President is far from perfect. In fact there are many, many decisions of this administration that I disagree with. However disagreeing with the President and actively seeking his dismissal are completely distinct activities. I can hope that those on the left will come to their senses in time to mount a unified effort to reelect President Obama, but somehow I think that the progressives would rather win a battle, than fight a war. In the euphoria after Barack Obama was elected there were those pundits who were proclaiming the end of the Republicans as a national party. Less than two years later we can see how wrong they were. However, if the progressives chose to go down this road, they will condemn the Democrats to a permanent place on the sideline of national political debate. I can assure that if Black Americans see this President, their President, being attacked, belittled and battered by the party that they have given so much to, they will consider it a personal attack and the democratic party will never be the same again.