Friday, April 08, 2011

What Will Progressive Independents Do for 2012?

Bernie Sanders is not going to put in his name.

So, who can we support? Obama?

An Independent progressive environmental activist, Ted Glick, says a Green Party candidate is our best hope. Or, perhaps an “alliance” candidacy in which the Green Party was one of several main components. Like an Independent version of the 1980’s Rainbow Coalition.

Such a candidate can’t win, but Glick suggests that at least it will:

- let Obama and all the other centrist Democrats know that they cannot take the Left for granted when it comes to major policy issues.

- probably lead to Obama saying better things on the issues as he campaigns. Though we know from what happened after Obama won in 2008 that this doesn’t mean he’s going to do what he says, it will make it harder for him to completely backtrack, give issue-oriented movements leverage in their efforts to get him to do the right thing during a second term.

- help progressives in our on-going efforts during 2011 and 2012 to defend against the continuing efforts of the ultra-rightist Republicans to break unions, shred the safety net, take away EPA’s power to enforce environmental laws, undercut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and everything else.

-And potentially, if the Left can show maturity, determination and flexibility, it can help the process of a coming together of issue-oriented progressive Democrats, third party activists and labor, issue-based and community organizers.

Glick would like to build a “third force” of progressive Independents.

I wonder how realistic that is. Progressives are a fragmented bunch, and Independents are, by their nature, difficult to organize. Are there any figures out there with the heft necessary to command the respect of such a motley bunch as progressive Independents?

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.


Peter Orvetti said...

There will probably be some credible candidate to the left of Obama. Kucinich is said to be rethinking a primary challenge in the wake of the Libya intervention, and the Greens will nominate someone.

The last time around, the Greens went with the very flawed Cynthia McKinney, who chose the utterly unqualified Rosa Clemente -- who described her political philosophy as "hip-hop" in several interviews -- as a running mate. Hopefully next time the Greens will think more broadly.

wjk said...

Are Kucinich and Nader all we have to rely on? Aren’t there any other weighty spokespersons for us?

BTW this is taken from Ted Glick’s 4-3-11 Future Hope column, which can be found at

Nancy Hanks said...

Thanks for the thoughtful dialogue! Personally, I'd opt for the Egyptian model where there are no Big Leaders but a vibrant hub of activists. Don't wait for Superman -- independents are organizing on the ground around the country: local leaders like Mike Lewis in Kentucky, Joelle Riddle in Colorada, Mitch Campbell in Idaho, Randy Miller in Utah, Catana Barnes in Nevada, Kim Wright in South Dakota, and hundreds more throughout the country.

Randy Miller said...

Jon Huntsman

Also interesting that the environment is part of this discussion. The uber right talking heads like to spin environmental concern as an ultra left ideology, but frankly I don't see any sincere concern for environmental issues emanating from the Democratic party. Another road back to Jon Huntsman, who as governor of a spectacularly hijacked red state indicated that environmental common sense was not a right / left issue.
Jon Huntsman, diplomat, leader, servant. Give him a serious look. I think he cannot only pull it off, but I think he can be a good enough prez to warrant a fifth face on Rushmore. I'm not joking--he has that potential.

Anonymous said...

Jack Jodell here, weighing in.
Obama and the centrist Democrats definitely DO need to be shaken senseless, but simply handing the White House over to a conservative Republican or Tea Party fanatic is NOT the answer, and that is exactly what will happen should enough p-eople follow Mr. Glick's advice. i believe it would be far wiser for progressives to slowly build their own "People's Party" faction inside of the Democratic Party, and then use that faction to weed out Republican-Lite blue dogs. It will take longer, but it is vastly preferable to a GOP administration that will privatize everything in sight and gut social programs.

richardwinger said...

The very fact that Obama and everyone else knows that it is at least possible that the Greens or similar forces will come up with a strong candidate for the November 2012 presidential election, serves as a brake on Obama not to move too far toward Republican positions. But if we had a top-two system, Obama and everyone else would know that such a potential threat is impossible. A top-two system in the presidential election would mean only Obama and one Republican could run in November. So that would be the end of any leverage from the left on Obama.

Harry said...

On a panel this week at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network Convention, Jackie Salit raised with a group of progressive labor leaders the possibility of an electoral alliance to ensure that progressive, pro-labor Dems who win their primary are not defeated in the general election as happened to Joe Sestak in the recent PA Senate race. An element of such alliance would be responsiveness by these Dems to the political reform concerns of the left leaning independents. Jackie heads

wjk said...

Working within the Democratic Party has been tried for decades. Progressives get ignored, and taken for granted. Lots of inside progressive groups are currently banging their heads against the wall. They include: Progressive Democrats of America, Democracy for America, and many state party progressives, like the CA Dems.

Suppose a labor/environmental/pro-choice/tax-the-rich/Independent alliance could be cobbled together to support some Dem? Wouldn’t that just be more of the same?

Isn’t it time to take a sane look at the “work inside the party” strategy?

I think its great that some states are seeing a rise in Independent’s activity. But to me that just shows how little passion there is in the rest of the country.

Where’s the passion?

We have had a top two (Dems-Repubs) system for presidential elections since mid-1800s, and it stinks.

rhytonen said...

Draft some combination of:

(Sherrod) BROWN