For reasons that I quite can’t put my finger on, the progressive bloggers here seem to bounce ideas around like ping-pong balls from time to time. Some of these ping-pong balls stay around a long time and others fade very quickly. Today’s ping-pong ball is the notion that somebody, anybody, needs to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. The theory goes that the president continues to triangulate and track to the middle. With a liberal primary challenger, this would cause the president to move his strategy and tactics back to the left.
I think a democracy works best when it is challenged. A challenger is a great idea. But like all great ideas, the devil is in the details. Who’s going to be the challenger? This is critically important. Some progressives have suggested that it doesn’t matter who the challenger is. I completely disagree. The challenger must have some political gravitas in order to be perceived as a threat by the president. Also, the views of the challenger are crucial. There was a story last week that some in the progressive blogosphere longed for Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton? Get serious. If you think there’s gridlock in Washington now, they would have to define a new term if Hillary Clinton were elected. Some of the people in Washington actually like President Obama. Hillary Clinton comes with such baggage that the mention of her name causes seizures in some people. Some have mentioned Congressman Dennis Kucinich. I respect Dennis Kucinich. I think he is a smart man and a good politician. I think he is a fabulous progressive who stands up for his beliefs. Unfortunately, he is so far left that he doesn’t get taken seriously by the mainstream media. He would not be a serious contender. I see that Ralph Nader has thrown his hat into the ring. Why? I think that Ralph Nader has many outstanding qualities, but again I don’t think he’s going to be taken seriously by the mainstream media. If we, progressive Democrats, are going to run somebody against Barack Obama, it needs to be a serious candidate. If we cannot find a serious candidate, it is a waste of time and effort.
Let’s look at this problem from a different angle. The reason that many on the left are upset with Barack Obama is, in a nutshell, triangulation. Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, seems to check the political wind, find out where their center of gravity is and then he stakes his position right there, smack in the middle. If this is so, I believe we don’t need another candidate in order to change the political landscape. What we need is more activism from the left. We need to be more vocal. We need to write more letters to our congressmen and to the White House. We need to call our congressmen and the White House. Politicians respond to pressure. We need to let the president know that we aren’t going to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We’ve been actively trying to change the political climate. It is time for us to quit longing for what we don’t have and begin to make our voices heard so that the people that we elected will begin to work for us.