Progressives Increase Their Power Over Obama
November 8, 2010
By Cliff Kincaid
While the Democratic Party suffered a bloodbath on November 2, the progressives who basically run the party and control President Obama came out of the elections stronger than ever. They will keep the political pressure on Obama to pursue a far-left agenda, with the implied threat that if he doesn’t comply, he will have a 2012 presidential primary election challenger. The progressives know Obama’s secrets, having backed him since he joined with them in the Chicago New Party, a means by which they moved the Democratic Party to the left.
Glenn Beck on Fox News says that a few progressives managed to survive somehow. In fact, Karen Dolan of the far-left Institute for Policy Studies proudly notes that “the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members”—Reps. Alan Grayson (Fla.), John Hall (N.Y.) and Phil Hare (Ill.). By contrast, as noted by Jim Dean of Democracy of America, only 47 percent of the so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrats won their races.
All of this means that the Democratic Party has moved further to the left, which is exactly where Obama wants it to go. The electoral “shellacking” he talks about came mostly at the expense of the moderate and conservative elements of the party. He never cared about them.
The progressive victories virtually guarantee that Obama, despite his conciliatory talk at his news conference on Wednesday, will not compromise with the House Republican majority. He will instead count on his base and their media allies to put pressure on the GOP to compromise with their leftist agenda or else be branded as obstructionists.
The lesson is not just that the Democratic Party in the House has become more “liberal,” as media pundits like to say, but more “progressive” in a far-left sense. The new head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is expected to be Rep. Keith Ellison, the leftist Muslim Democrat from Minnesota. He has already sent a letter appealing for the post.
Some of the pundits are missing the point completely. Democratic Party operative and Fox News contributor Joe Trippi says that the “GOP sweep of at least 60 seats in the House removed some of the most moderate Democrats and replaced them with more conservative, and in many cases Tea Party Republicans. This means that Barack Obama will have to try to compromise and solve some very tough problems with a more polarized and divided House.”
But while the Republicans are more conservative, the Democrats are far more liberal. If Obama compromises with the Republicans, he risks the wrath of the more powerful Progressive Caucus, which is where his heart lies anyway. For example, Obama has long had a close personal relationship with Rep. Barbara Lee, the pro-Castro Oakland Democrat who has headed the Progressive Caucus and the Black Caucus and was once a secret member of the Communist Party spin-off, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
On the surface, it does look bad for the President. Making the threat against Obama overt, Rob Kall at the left-wing website OpEdNews.com declared, “Obama deserves to be primaried and replaced. He has failed as a leader in so many ways—horrible appointees, weak, inadequate responses to crises, inability to handle the military. It is not a matter of giving him enough time. He failed to deliver on his campaign promises, not just the issue or action kinds, but most important, as a leader. He has shown himself to be weak, ineffective, with poor judgments and inadequate strength to do the job.”
Such threats are possible because of the far-left drift of the Democratic Party, which has become more pronounced with the November 2 results. But these threats are just for show.
If Obama is somehow forced to accept variations of Republican policies that are perceived to be surrender on his part, he could still come out a winner. As Sam Webb of the Communist Party USA puts it, “Don’t be surprised when many who voted for the Republicans become disillusioned with their policies, and on this ground a bigger and broader people’s movement will emerge.”
So this may be the game plan: create the impression that the Republicans are really in charge and hold them responsible for whatever results from Washington policy-making. They seem to be assuming that budget cuts of some kind will be enacted, leading to the spectacle of the GOP being accused of putting “profits over people,” as union organizers and left-wing activists take to the streets in protest. And Obama in his news conference already set the Republicans up, blaming them in advance for proposing to alter a health care plan that he says provides real benefits to real people.
You can see it now: Republicans being blamed in the media for taking benefits away from people with real needs. The GOP will be depicted as the front men for greedy insurance companies.
The irony is that conservative sentiment is at record highs. Exit polls from the 2010 elections showed that 41 percent of voters identified themselves as conservatives, with only 20 percent calling themselves liberals and 39 percent identifying as moderates. That compares to only 32 percent calling themselves conservative in the exit polls from the 2006 midterm elections and 34 percent conservative in 2008.
While conservatives have always had to go up against a much smaller number of liberals, it is the influence of the progressives and their strategic location—in such power centers as the media and academia—that gives them the strategic advantage. Now, with their power in the Democratic Party more concentrated than ever, they are relishing a fight they think they can win. Obama is one of them, and they know it.