Thursday, December 30, 2010

Third Party dance

I have no confidence in the value of a third party candidacy in 2012 to do anything constructive, unless we consider kicking the Presidential elections to the Republicans constructive. I'm sure the Reps will do some amount of behind-the-scenes encouraging of a left-leaning third-party candidacy. And, sad to say, Obama's current trajectory, most especially his seemingly willingness to make Social Security Phaseout an active priority of his own, makes his own 2012 candidacy particarly vulnerable to a third party challenge from a pro-Social Security small party.

A credible primary challenge to Obama's re-nomination, on the other hand, is something that I think could be very constructive for the Democrats and for Social Security supporters. Even among progressives, there doesn't seem to be much confidence that such a thing is feasible or even desirable. But the State of the Union (SOTU) address in late January could be an important turning point. If Obama endorses the Catfood Commission priority of phasing out Social Security - with the Orwellian jusitification of "saving Social Security", of course - political realities for the Democratic Party could change drastically and quickly. The spectacle of a Democratic President taking up the fight to end Social Security is likely to jolt a lot of voters into taking a new look at what's going on in American politics.

Mark Pinsky in Politics Daily speculates on the possibility of An Anti-War Challenge to Obama in 2012: The Case for Alan Grayson 12/28/2010. I don't follow Pinsky's work closely, but the tone of his article seems to be along the lines of: gosh, it would be entertaining if this leftwing fool ran against Obama and helped get a Republican elected in 2012. His article invokes several zombie tidbits of conventional wisdom, and completely ignores two highly salient facts: that we are likely in the early years of a economic depression, and that the Democratic President looks prepared to take on a highly unpopular and substantively awful position of Social Security Phaseout. The Afghanistan War could be a major issue for the Democratic base in 2012. But he seems to use that issue to invoke the 1968 Democratic primaries, which I guess is one of the only frames in which Beltway Village wisdom can consider the possibility.

His concluding line couldn't be more safely within the boundaries of Village thinking: "Conversely, by isolating more extreme elements of the Democratic base in a doomed effort, the challenge could simply solidify Obama's support among moderate Democrats and the crucial independents needed to ensure his re-election in 2012."

Of course. Don't our star pundits regularly tell us that America is a "center-right" country?


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