ByÂ Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times
Worried the liberal voice is being drowned out in the presidential campaign, progressive leaders said Monday they want to field a slate of candidates against PresidentÂ Obama in the Democratic primaries to make him stake out liberal stances as he seeks re-election.
Ralph Nader warns that without an intraparty challenge the liberal agenda â€œwill be muted and ignored,â€ the one-man primary will kill voter enthusiasm and voters wonâ€™t get a chance to reflect on the real differences that divide the Democratic and Republican parties.
The groupâ€™s call has been endorsed by more than 45 other liberal leaders. They want to recruit six candidates who bring expertise ranging from poverty to the military.
Defeating an incumbent in a primary is a tall order, but opponents can expose weaknesses, asÂ Patrick J. Buchanan did in 1992 to the first PresidentÂ Bush andÂ Sen. Edward M. Kennedy did in 1980 to PresidentCarter.
In its recruitment letter, the group faulted the administrationâ€™s handling of the Wall Street bailouts, the wars inÂ Afghanistan andÂ Pakistan, and the U.S. involvement in the military effort inÂ Libya. They also criticizedÂ Mr. Obamaâ€™s decision to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and the recent deal he struck with Republicans over cutting spending to raise the debt ceiling.
â€œWe need to put strong Democratic pressure on PresidentÂ Obama in the name of poor and working peopleâ€ saidÂ Cornel West, an author and professor at Princeton University. â€œHis administration has tilted too much toward Wall Street, we need policies that empower Main Street.â€
Darrell West of the Brookings Institution said the group should find a high-profile liberal to challenge the president if it is to be effective.
â€œThe group should consider the fact that one of the greatest predictors of a one-versus-two-term president is having an in-party challenge,â€Â Mr. West said. â€œPresidents with no nomination challenge such as Reagan, Clinton, andÂ Bush won re-election while those with a significant in-party challenge such asÂ Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush lost their bids for re-election.â€
TheÂ GOP presidential field has been quick to pin the blame for just about every negative economic sign on the presidentâ€™s â€œliberalâ€ agenda, leaving some, including labor unions, feeling as if they have been hung out to dry.
Chris Townsend, of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, said he is disappointed with the administrationâ€™s response to the various attacks on organized labor on the local, state and national level. He said the approach contrasts mightily with the Republicans running for president, who have made it clear they want to â€œliquidize organized labor.â€
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