A longtime conservative friend of mine once told me that history is instructive, but by no means is it determinative. However in some cases, it is: Every time a sitting President has been primaried, he's won the battle and lost the war.
How many times do I have to spell this out for the benefit of shallow minds?
Johnson was primaried in 1968, and the Democrats lost. Ford was primaried in 1976, and the Republicans lost. Carter was primaried in 1980, and the Democrats lost. Poppy Bush was primaried in 1992, and the Republicans lost.
That's enough instruction to embody a determinative gene.
Besides, notice what happened in each of the above circumstances, when the Democratic President was challenged. In 1968, we ushered in the era of Richard Nixon, whose Cabinet was dotted with closeted Birchers, intent upon yanking the political perspective to the Right. Not only that, we had Watergate, which exposed the rotten core of Richard Nixon's Presidency, but also gave us Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, Lee Atwater and ratfucking.
Politics would never be the same.
Carter's defeat in 1980 (courtesy of Ted Kennedy's primary challenge and alcoholic hubris) is still being felt today - 12 years of Republican rule, which gave us trickledown, deregulation of the financial industry, a scrapping of the Fairness Act, Rush Limbaugh and an introduction to Saddam Hussein.
Another thing that hinders elections is a third party challenge. Again, in 1968, those Southern Democrats and working class people from North and South of the Mason-Dixon Line, who didn't feel comfortable for whatever reason in voting for Richard Nixon, had the Wallace option. Poppy Bush was plagued by Ross Perot, and we all know what happened in 2000 with Ralph Nader and those eminent political sages who championed him. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Michael Moore, Bill Maher and Katrina vanden Heuvel).
Now, it seems that the demagogue, Nader, who relishes referring to the President as an "Uncle Tom", has combined forces with Dr Cornel West, who seems to be evolving (or devolving) daily into a cross between a professional Negro and a token minority at the dinner party of the 21st Century's version of the radical chic, seemingly, to organise a primary challenge to President Obama's leadership.
I'm pretty sure that this whole thing has a lot to do with hubris. Both men are incredibly egotistical, for all West affects a faux humble air and addresses everyone as "brother" and "sister." (Remember that this man is the son of middle-class profesionals, who has spent all of his adult life in the leafy and insulated white privileged communities of Ivy League academia, as far away from poverty as is geographically possible). It also has a lot to do with petty jealousy and prejudice. Where Nader refers to the President as an "Uncle Tom," West openly opines about the depth of the President's "blackness," and impugnes that because he's biracial and has friends and professional colleagues of the Jewish faith, he's not black enough.
For West, the President is as much "the other" as he ever was for the Teabaggers, but in reverse.
Nader, on the other hand, is all over the place. We know that in the past and even in the present, he's heaped praise on Ron Paul, he of the euphemistic "property rights" meme. Now, he's praising Sarah Palin as a "conservative populist."
Of course, this whole thing is destructive, and if it gains momentum, will only serve to serve up the country on a plate to 40 years of corporate Republican rule, the real end of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a back to the future that was the late 19th Century reign of the robber barons.
But Nader and West are wealthy men, no matter how many miles West travels in his custom-made poverty bus, paid for by who knows who.
The scary thing is that this just might gain momentum, considering the abject intellectual shallowness, laziness and inability to think critically exhibited by various tranches of the so-called Progressive Left, which likes to think of itself as being the intellectual superiors of their Teabagging brethren on the Right.
Consider a recent article in their corporate news Bible, The Huffington Post, which reported that an icon of theirs, ex-Senator Russ Feingold, stated in strongly-worded terms that he categorically opposed a primary challenge to President Obama. One of the vapid commentators on that rag openly stated that he/she was totally in agreement with Ralph Nader ... until he/she read that Feingold was opposed to the attempt, so now he/she agreed with Russ.
I can only say ... what the fuck?
Since when did the so-called educated demographic stop thinking for themselves and follow the fashion of their favourite political idol? This is the sort of thing that is redolent of the adolescent's crush on a rock or sports star.
As numerous non-celebrity bloggers from the pragmatic Left, whose feet are firmly planted in reality and who understand the machinations of government and that politics isn't necessarily a beautiful thing to behold, have repeatedly emphasized: a lot of the blame the President cops could actually be laid firmly at the feet of Congress - and, in particular, the Congressional Democrats. After all, it was Russ Feingold, himself, along with Harry Reid, who implored the President to delay a vote on repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy until after the Midterms. That worked out so well, didn't it?
In point of fact, the way the Progressive Left totally ignores the Legislative branch of government and the equal power it wields in relation to the President's executive brief, leads one firmly to believe that they'd like nothing more than a Leftwing dictator, for all the imaginary power they invest in the person of the President.
It just ain't so, and TaNehisi Coates, writing in The Atlantic, nails the agenda behind Nader's and West's ultimate motives. Please note Coates's last word on this (my emphasis). It's highly prescient and scarily thought-provoking:-
Despite the claims of working on behalf of the poor, I'm forced to wonder if any of this would be happening had Obama returned a few phone-calls and put in some face-time. The presidential fetish on exhibition here, paired with a non-critique of Congress, the non-recognition of the need to build a more left-leaning electorate is amazing and anti-democratic. Nothing better evidences that than seeing Nader, a man who evidently believes Obama an "Uncle Tom for the corporations," turn around and praise Sarah Palin for her "conservative populism."
This isn't progressive. It's personal. And it's reactionary.