Progressive leaders led by Ralph Nader and Cornel West unveiled a proposal today to challenge President Obama in the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in 2012.
The proposal, which has been endorsed by over 45 distinguished leaders, seeks to have a slate of six candidates run against President Obama, each representing a field in which Obama has never clearly staked a progressive claim or where he has drifted toward the corporatist right.
“Without debates by challengers inside the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, the liberal/majoritarian agenda will be muted and ignored,” said Ralph Nader.
“The one-man Democratic primaries will be dull, repetitive, and draining of both voter enthusiasm and real bright lines between the two parties that excite voters,” Nader said.
A letter is being sent to a list of distinguished elected officials, civic leaders, prominent members of academia and the NGO community who represent the fields of labor, poverty, military and foreign policy, health insurance and care, the environment, financial regulation, consumer protection, and civil, political and human rights/empowerment.
The list of potential candidates also includes progressive democrats who have held national and state office and have fought for progressive reforms.
“We need to put strong democratic pressure on President Obama in the name of poor and working people” said Cornel West, author and Professor at Princeton University. “His administration has tilted too much toward Wall Street, we need policies that empower Main Street.”
The letter pronounces that without primary challengers, President Obama will never have to seriously articulate and defend his beliefs to his own party. Given the dangers our nation faces, that option is unacceptable.
“It’s time for the White House to get into the trench with organized labor and lend a hand. We know what we need, and we don’t need another campaign speech,” said Chris Townsend Political Action Director, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America. “The absence of discussion or debate about the failed strategies of this administration only emboldens the corporate onslaught.”
The letter points to numerous decisions that have drawn criticism from Obama’s own Democratic Party including his decision to bail out Wall Street’s most profitable firms while failing to push for effective prosecution of the criminal behavior that triggered the recession, escalating the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan while simultaneously engaging in a unilateral war in Libya, his decision to extend the Bush era tax cuts, and his acquiescence to Republican extortion during the recent debt ceiling negotiations.
“Robust debate on the crucial issues facing our nation, including global environmental devastation, should characterize all races for national public office and the Democratic presidential primaries are no exception,” said Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus of Friends of the Earth. “The public needs to hear whether a second term Obama will be like the first term Obama, or perhaps more like the 2008 presidential candidate Obama or something else altogether.”
The list of prominent leaders receiving the letter is being kept private as a courtesy.
Here’s a partial list of endorsees:
Former U.S. Senator, South Dakota
Gar Alperovitz, Professor University of Maryland, Co-Founder Democracy Collaborative
Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Law Center
Dr. Brent Blackwelder
President Emeritus of Friends of the Earth
Ellen H. Brown
Lawyer and Author of Web of Debt
Edgar Stuart Cahn
Professor of Law, University of the District of Columbia
Co-founder Legal Services for the Poor
1996 Reform Party Vice President Candidate
Director of the Center for Corporate Policy
Actor, Author and Director
Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director, Organic Consumers Association
Charles Derber, Professor, Boston College
Founder, Alliance for Democracy
President, Capital Institute
Rebecca and James Goodman, Northwood Farm
Director, Foundation Earth
Rainforest Action Network Founder
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist of the New York Times and Author
Author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy
President, Ethical Markets Media, LLC.
Psychologist, Anthropologist and Author of The Possible Human and The
Former Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission
Former Administrator, Federal Maritime Commission
Alan F. Kay
Author of Spot the Spin and Locating Consensus for Democracy
The Labor Educator
Executive Director, Center for Food Safety&
International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA)
Educator, Author of Savage Inequalities
Former Editor, Harper’s Magazine
Leland Lehrman, Partner, Fund Balance
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun Magazine
Chair, Network of Spiritual Progressives
Dr. Richard Lippin, MD
Physician Forecaster, Board Certified in Preventive Medicine and
Advocate for both Individual and Institutional Prevention
Robert D. Manning
Founder and CEO, Responsible Debt Relief Institute
Author of Credit Card Nation
Dr. Samuel Metz, MD
Mad As Hell Doctors, founding member
Physicians for a National Health Plan, member of Portland chapter
Carol Miller, Community Activist, New Mexico
E. Ethelbert Miller, Board Chair Institute for Policy Studies
Former Executive Director, Greenpeace USA
President of Friends of the Earth
Author and Professor, Trinity College
Author and former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs
Author of The Common Good and former White House Advisor
“Democracy’s Restauranteur” and Owner of Bus Boys& Poets
Author, War is a Lie
Political Action Director, United Electrical, Radio and Machine
Workers of America (UE)
Author and Political Activist
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Chair, The Shalom Center
Author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth
Professor and Author of Race Matters
Quentin D. Young MD
National Coordinator, Physicians for a National Health Program