The California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus marked the commander-in-chief's 50th birthday by releasing a resolution that supports exploring a potential primary challenge in 2012 to the first-term Democratic president.
The resolution, approved at a caucus meeting last weekend, criticizes Obama for "negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans," and cites entitlement cuts on the table in the recent budget negotiations, the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and "disregard of his promises to the Labor movement" as some of many grievances the caucus has with Obama's performance so far.
Progressive Caucus Chair Karen Bernal called the resolution an effort to spark a "very honest discussion" about the direction of the party. She said supporting a primary challenge was one of many options that needed to be "seriously discussed," but said that it was not "the only strategy to try to engage in a paradigm shift."
"We don't see ourselves as being against President Obama as much as we see ourselves as defenders of traditional, core Democratic Party principles," Bernal said.
Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said the resolution reflects discontent with the current administration and the general state of politics, but the suggestion that a primary challenge could be the solution "is not the point of view of the vast majority of the party."
"It's their point of view it's not mine. ... They're expressing their point of view with hopes it might have some impact moving the president on some issues," Burton said.
Here's the text of the resolution:
RESOLUTION in SUPPORT of a POSSIBLE 2012 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CHALLENGE Passed July 30, 2011 Anaheim, CA WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the challenge presented by President Obama's negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans, we are challenged by President Obama in the following ways:
• His unilateral closed-door budget offer to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which endangers the New Deal and War on Poverty safety nets.
• His determination to escalate U.S. militarism through illegal secret CIA drone attacks and unauthorized wars.
• His willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and bail out big banks without ending the foreclosure crisis that displaces American working families.
• His insistence on pushing a health insurance bill which enriches private insurance companies while ignoring growing support for single-payer health care or robust public options.
• His continuance of President Bush's assault on civil liberties with an extension of the repressive Patriot Act.
• His failure to restore due process, including the protection of whistleblowers and habeas corpus.
• His numerous failures to adhere to international law.
• The continuing practice of nationwide FBI raids of anti-war progressive protestors.
• His decision to increase the arrests and deportations of undocumented workers.
• His facilitation of the privatizing of the public sphere, which includes education and housing, among others.
• His disregard of his promises to the Labor movement.
• His failure to adequately protect the environment and adequately address climate change.
WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the historical significance of the Eugene McCarthy/Robert F. Kennedy anti-war challenge to President Lyndon Johnson. The challenge followed President Johnson's decision to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, betraying his campaign promise to end a war that polarized America. Similarly, we recognize the danger and betrayal that the current "Grand Bargain" represents to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's signature gift to all Americans, Social Security and the New Deal, a point of pride for all Democrats.
WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party is committed to the understanding that an interest in a 2012 Democratic presidential primary challenge will not interfere with President Obama's ability to govern and not limit his ability to do so in ways that include invoking Constitutional options, we recognize that this will, in fact, raise debate on important issues without risking the ability to mobilize and energize the base of the Democratic Party to elect a triumphant leader to counter the far-right agenda.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, to make our views heard, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party will begin the process of contacting other Democratic organizations, Democratic Party members and public organizations that share our views on the issues and which seek to alter the course of history by exploring other steps to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge to President Obama.
PHOTO CREDIT: President Barack Obama speaks at Solyndra Inc. in Fremont on Wednesday, May 26, 2010. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.