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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.

In a recent comment thread, I delineated a few possibilities.

(1) big names like Howard Dean, Kucinich, Elizabeth Warren. Liberal Democrats. I don’t rule them out. Whatever their professed loyalties today, a year from now they may see dumping Obama as a necessity to save the party from the disgrace he has brought upon them. There are times when moderate, or even conservative, figures are driven by the forces of history, and my crystal ball is in the pawnshop.

(2) small names, not on the radar yet, who could still enter some primaries, get media, get the right message, and be thrust forward by history (and us).

On the independent front:

… there’s the matter of independents in the general. Greens? My personal belief is that they tend to think small. But ballot status is a major asset in many states.

Or a populist independent, running on a 3-point program (for instance) of jobs, peace and civil liberties. Could such a candidate go big? Especially if any Dem primary challenger failed to get the nomination?

For today, allow me set aside the independent wing of Dump Obama and focus on the Democratic primaries (though commenters should feel free). I am now leaning strongly towards option 2 in the Democratic primaries. Run a 3-point campaign of Jobs (and safety net), Peace and Civil Liberties. As Mike Kwiatkowski said, time’s a’wastin’! I do not like the passivity of awaiting some Big Liberal to step up. Nor do I trust that such a liberal wouldn’t turn out to be Obama Junior, whatever their past track record. Feingold or Warren or Kucinich jumps in, we can have a very interesting debate.

I’m not getting into the name game myself. Others are better-positioned for that. But let’s suppose that some progressive with little name recognition takes the plunge. For starters, how to break the inevitable media blockade she or he would face?

File with the FEC! Then we of Dump Obama sentiment would have to step up, say it proud, say it loud. Dump Obama has already gone viral. A concrete candidacy would likely do so as well.

Develop a ballot access plan! It varies by state, but entering a Democratic presidential primary takes gathering signatures and plopping down a filing fee. In most states, it seems to run from zero signatures to about 10,000, though in a few states the process is quite brutal. The filing fees — if any — are generally not prohibitive. It does require some work, and we might not be able to handle all 50 states, but certainly enough to be players as far as getting in the primaries.

We need a lawyer here.

Fight for media coverage! Of course they’ll try to freeze us out. But in this case, the fight for coverage is in some ways the campaign.

Fight to get in the debates! Again, as above. And as above, the fight for coverage is also the campaign.

I’m thinking worst case here. Suppose someone like Olbermann or Hamsher decided to make the move. And consider the hysteria that just a few Dump Obama pieces have generated.

Metamars referenced one of my early Dump Obama comments on Daily Kos some time back, and got one of the worst of their ritual 5-minute hate displays. But hell, that’s Kos.

When I wrote my initial Time for a Dump Obama Movement in early September, I was a front-pager at Docudharma, but when I tried to schedule it, the reaction was deranged. Front-paging it would “marginalize” the entire Docudharma site, and the people at Kos wouldn’t love Docudharma anymore. So I agreed to do it as a side diary. Nonetheless, I was summarily stripped — without the courtesy of notice — of my front page privileges there. Wow!

On OpenLeft, I became the cause celebre (or is that bete noire?) of their Paul Rosenberg, who has written a total of 8 diaries either totally targeting Dump Obama, or taking major side-swipes at it, and referring to me as jeffroby666. (The Devil makes me do it.) It is there that I received my greatest honor (and I must modestly state for the record that he overstates the case), as Rosenberg wrote in a comment:

I really have no time for the likes of you, Jeff. You are probably the most effective force in demobilizing the left so far as building electoral power goes.

My point is that — even if we’re not all that powerful, and I know we feel our weakness keenly — the Democratic Party feels ITS OWN weakness keenly as well. They walk a fine line between serving Wall Street and keeping their base in line. They HAVE to pretend that Obama is their only alternative. You’d think they could just chill out and hope we go away. But instead they react with the very hysteria that brings us front and center.

I am not at this point claiming that a Dump Obama challenger would win the primaries and become the Democratic nominee. But here’s where it gets interesting. There most certainly will be at least one independent challenger to Obama (and I say to you, Mike Kwiatkowski, time’s a’wastin’ for independents as well), and at that point we say to those Democrats who agree with our call for Jobs (and safety net), Peace and Civil Liberties, are you loyal to the Democratic Party that just dumped YOU, or do you stand on the principles that brought you here? If you are to be true to your principles, back the independent!

So when I first threw this out, I was frankly taking a shot in a dark. But at this point, it seems to me that we are developing — just a whiff at this point — some real power. But as they say in the TV lottery commercials, you gotta be in it to win it!

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