Progressive Caucus Encourages Primary Challenge

karen bernal

Progressive Caucus Chair Karen Bernal moderating the discussion.

Progressive Caucus of California Democratic Party Encourages Democratic Party Primary Challenge to President Obama

On Saturday, July 30th, 2011, an estimated 75 members of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party (CDP) passed a resolution in support of a Democratic Party Presidential Primary challenge to President Barack Obama. Gathering in Anaheim during an Executive Board meeting of the CDP, the group overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution following a discussion on the importance of not only challenging the far-right agenda of unmitigated corporate greed but also the current administration’s willingness to slash 650-billion dollars from Social Security and Medicare.

At the Executive Board meeting on Sunday, a challenge to re-certifying the Progressive Caucus was introduced as a consequence of the action – the only such challenge introduced – involving the 19 caucuses within the California Democratic Party. An “objection to consideration” motion was made alongside a simultaneous motion to table, in order to give tempers a chance to cool until the next Executive Board meeting in November. In the meantime, the Rules Committee is likely to study the matter and produce a report, according to Rules Committee Chair Garry Shay. [Language update 5 August 2011]

Below is the updated resolution:

Resolution in Support of a Presidential Primary Challenge

progressive caucusWHEREAS, 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.
  • progressive caucusHis 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.


Audacity of Nope from KLL Video Productions on Vimeo.


  1. Buck Wilde says

    The Obama-challenger probably would NOT win. But the good news – It would send a strong progressive message, and probably help shift the direction of the Democratic Party.

    • Fred says

      Each of your posts are quite intelligent. I have to ask, do you realize that the “progressive” ideals you support are communist in nature? Read Rule for Radicals. Another good book is The Creature from Jekyll Island.

      • Ben says

        It’s sad when moderate democratic-socialists, as progressives would properly call themselves in a less reactionary country, are stigmatized as communists. It is an insinuation that we would support totalitarianism ala Stalin. We’re Americans. Every American is a liberal in the classical sense.

        They are criticizing assaults on our civil liberties and government secrecy. How is that un-American? The New Deal and the Big Three have been around for quite some time. How can they be characterized as “communist in nature” when they’ve been supported by the majority of the American population for over fifty years?

        How are any of the grievances listed unreasonable? How are they communist?

    • says

      This is the best we could hope for, but Obama has proven already that on the campaign trail, he can promise us anything to get our votes. And then we have to live with the post-traumatic stress over his constant betrayals from his need to appease the wealthy instead of his base.

      He may be cool as a perfect example of Machiavellian tactics able to deceive and prey on a vulnerable population set up for mass genocide. Because, you and I know that if entitlements and social security and medicare and medicaid go down, we are going to be one putrid, disease ridden, rioting, pissed off bunch of haves and have-nots.

      Is there a way out of this? Kinda makes you want to run to the hills and start a farming collective so we can at least avoid starvation as our empire bites the dust.

      But if Chuck is right, and I am wrong, (please, let this be so) I am all for an Obama who has been biding his time waiting for his FDR moment. I will definitely sleep better, and be more sociable if this turns out to be the case.

  2. Chuck says

    Although I understand the frustrations of Progressives, nothing is more important than having Obama win in 2012. He has been compromising to a fault but that will work to his advantage with the “independents” compared to the polarizing candidate he’s up against in 2012. When he’s won and hopefully regained the House he has nothing to loose. He will set the Progressive tone for the next 20 years on the Supreme Court, somehow the most important role in the world, he will really break out the Progress and use his bully pulpit effectually for re-building the middle class through infrastructure investment, Billionaire taxes and renewable energy incentives and development…he will essentially have his FDR moment with nothing holding him back. As a result America will grow incredibly strong and baring a Florida 2000, usher in another Progressive 8 years…He will be courted around the world as a leader with incredible intelligence and cool and the corporations that will do all they can to take him down in 12′ will laud him for his courage and tenacity and then shower him with millions in speaking fee’s. This is politics, its a game and it’s played with big money…and big money will find a way to win even if they seem to loose…don’t hand it over them for “nothing” because of your progressive pride. Look at the game and make them cater to you and earn your PROGRESSIVE respect. Big Money is afraid to change, its in their greedy nature to suck the last dollar out of every endeavor and then run to the hills with their bags of money leaving the people to pick up the toxins they’ve spilled in their wake. But if the tides turn they will be forced to join the chorus for fear of not being invited to the dance.

    • says

      If only. We have no choice. With the ridiculous options on the right, and no real progressives or independents stepping up, Obama is the best shot. But, given his record, I think you are dreaming.

  3. Davis Jones says

    Whoever we get to challenge him we want that person to win. That person must not be bought off by the Heritage Foundation, must not have signed a pledge not to raise taxes with Grover Norquist, and must be willing to levy taxes according to the law of the land, with loopholes closed. And that person needs to be willing to reassert our constitutional rules of law, our amendments, our bill of rights, reenact Glass-Steagall in bank regulations, the Fairness Doctrine in the media, set up single payer universal health care, and set standards of education competitive with the best.

    We need to generate revenue to pay our bills, and our congress has the power to levy.. that means by law to declare tax be collected to pay for budgetary expenses set forth to pay for our services. If a company is not willing to pay tax, then they can not be licensed to operate in this country. We need to focus on the public interest, not on the raping of our treasury.

    Futhermore, the Social Security and Medicare is funded by our payroll taxes. If they touch those, then we need to stop paying those taxes into the system and then set up a people’s national bank that will protect our money for our retirement. We cannot keep going in this direction.

    I believe our leaders are intent to turn us into a third world country, cause civil unrest, civil war, and then trojan those foreign international police up the Mississippi, bombing the shit out of everything so that Halliburton, can come in a rebuild for the ruling class, a la Abu Dhabi style. That is my fear.

    And I think we are smarter than this. I think we need to call our children who are in the military and the mercenary companies to come home and protect us while we do our own Tahir Square in Freedom Plaza on Oct 6. We need to walk this congress and this WH into custody until we can sort out the real perpetrators from the legislators, and prosecute those responsible for taking an oath to protect and honor while duping and frauding the American people out of our funds.

    We need to revisit what happened in 1913. We now owe the Federal Reserve Bank 44% of our debt in interest payments for their printing money, writing checks out of thin air to pay our bills. If we were collecting our GAAP required revenues to pay our bills, we would not have this debt. This is major fraud perpetrated by our leaders for more than thirty years, since Reagan, including Democrats.

    We need someone smart enough who cares. I think that could be any of the following: Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson or someone who has that kind of knowledge and the willingness to fight. And once we have them, we need to protect them. Align our children within our military to honor their oath and protect the American people from this coup d etat that has taken over our government and restore it to the people.

    BTW, what is up with transporting 25 Navy Seals for a rescue operation inside of a Chenook Helicopter??? and how did they convince those really smart guys to go along for that ride? What kind of betrayal was this?

  4. Fermom22 says

    I’m not interested in posing a primary challenge just to express our views. It’s clear that Obama doesn’t care about progressive goals or even the future of the American people. I AM interested in the actual nomination of another person to run as the Democratic nominee. While I have been a steadfast supporter of the democratic party, never having voted for a third-party candidate. I am now ready to bail on this co-conspirator of the repubs. We also need to challenge Harry Reid, who is no better, having sold us out with the republican, Max Baucus.

  5. Kim says

    Obama has done more for Republicans than any Republican has ever done! I can’t even find the words to express my profound disappointment in Obama. He really does seem to be just another bought and sold politician.

  6. REBEL28 says

    WOW…just listened to the AMAZING SPEAKER at 25:41………..but will even the Progressive Democrats listen to his speech……..???????

  7. REBEL28 says

    YES!!! I have been saying for AGES THAT WE NEED A NEW CANDIDATE. The SOLUTION is to have Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders run for 2012.

  8. From TheEther says

    This is missing the mark.

    I don’t think anyone would benefit from the country in the hands of any of the current R candidates should split the vote. And I would also rather see O playing to win instead of playing defense. The presidency isn’t the bulk of the problem… The problem is the composition of the house, and the credence given to far right members.

    It would be a much better use of our time, money and angst to work at changing/taking back seats in the senate and house (emily’s list can give you a good view of vulnerable seats).

    O has called for tax increases forth wealthy (for what it is worth)…

    Basically, amen to Timi above.

  9. Helen says

    I’m all for having a challenger to Obama in the primary. I was once a Green, but then I saw that they were not doing much because they lacked the resources needed to wage a national campaign. Remaining a Democrat at least gives me a voice in the primary. If we don’t challenge Obama in the primary, I’ll just write in the name of Nancy Pelosi or John Garamendi or Bernie Sanders. Not being wealthy, that seems to be the ONLY thing I can do. So much for “democracy”. And if a Republican wins because of my “lost” vote, at least I will have the satisfaction of having voted true to my progressive values.

  10. Wm Peter says

    Draft former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She is the only one to consistently adhere to her Principles. It is time for a female President to deliver this Nation out of the grip of the Old Boys Club. Please set up a draftpelosi “dot” com and get the momentum going. It is not too late for a Democratic Primary challenge to this weak incumbent disgrace of a Sell Out.

  11. Mark says

    Did any of these people suggest a primary challenge for Clinton when he kicked poor women and children off welfare how about when GE signed financial deregulation. Do you also remember he failed to reform health care?

    • Alan8 says

      Clinton also saddled us with NAFTA. A primary challenge then may have prevented the bipartisan economic violence that has been inflicted on working people since then.

      At this point, supporting the Democratic Party will just be a confirmation of their anti-worker agenda. The few progressives in the Democratic Party are ignored. A challenge from a REAL citizens’ party (like the Green Party) is what it will take to get their attention.

      The Green Party is the only party calling for taxing the rich. When have you EVER heard a Democrat say that?


    • U.S. Citizen says

      I wasn’t paying attention at that time but we all pretty much agree about Clinton, including The Telecom Act of 1996. We have been trying to get real regulation, including reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, breaking up the big banks and enforcement of Sherman Anti-Trust. We agree that Obama is a Clinton corporatist and maybe has gone beyond him. Personally, believe the corporatization of America and The Second Gilded Age are bipartisan efforts and we need democracy, not corporatocracy.

  12. Alan8 says

    The Green Party is the non-corporate alternative to the two corporate-funded parties.

    Progressives have no hope of influencing the corrupt Democratic Party, and ANY Democratic vote reenforces this party’s undeserved legitimacy.

    The Green Party doesn’t accept corporate money, and represents CITIZENS’ interests, like single-payer health care, pulling out of corporate trade agreements like NAFTA, and ending the insane wars.

    Supporting the Green Party also allows these issues to be raised, which wouldn’t happen in races involving corporate parties only.

    Your Green vote sends the corporate Democrats a message that continuing to sell out citizens to corporate interests will lose them votes. THIS MESSAGE IS SENT EVEN IF THE GREEN YOU VOTE FOR DOESN’T WIN!


  13. cnick says

    That’s really a smart thing to do, why don’t you ask Ralph Nadar if he is available, you really sent a message with that foolishness. Eight years of GWB. Don’t make that mistake again.

    • Alan8 says

      Actually Gore WON Florida in 2000. Ralph Nader isn’t responsible for the Republicans stealing the 2000 election, nor for Al Gore conceding a won election.

      Progressives have been unconditionally voting Democratic out of fear of the Republicans for 30 years, with the result of a “Democratic” Party that takes progressives’ votes for granted, that starts and continues endless wars, an economy in shambles, a police state, and “Democrats” that cater to every whim of the wealthy.

      How’s that working out for you?

      • U.S. Citizen says

        Agreed altho some in the caucus still blame Nader. From what I can see, we’re on the same page with you on most issues. Altho, we understand that the Dems are no longer the party of the people, some of us have chosen to work within the party to change that. At this point, I believe we have a corporate party and a regressive,uber-corporate party–the Corpocrats and Republicorps. It’s just a difference in approach.

        But, I agree, it’s not working out so well despite the work of some very dedicated progressives within the party.

    • freeopinions says

      When your Social Security and Medicare are taken away, it will be a Democrat who is overseeing it. The corporations and billionaires who funded the Obama campaign knew that Bush had messed it up pretty bad for the Republicans, and they also knew that progressives will vote for any Democrat, so co-opting the Democrats was easy: they just bought them too, and installed their candidate. Now both parties do the bidding of the corporate masters, and you lose.

      But it feels good to lose, knowing that your own party beat you, right?

  14. says

    While I wouldn’t want to recall Obama out of risk we wind up with another Arnie (NO THANKS!!!) or worse, the Left wing *must* put pressure on Obama b/c he’s leaning to the middle of the Republicans rather than representing his base of support, which is labor, working class, & minorities — ie the people getting shafted during this non-issue of a debt ceiling which the Republicans are effectively using as a wedge to force through unnecesssary “austerity measures” on the USA people.
    The Tea Baggers have shown that being active in your party and forcing them to uphold their promises is effective, even if (like myself) you think Tea Baggers are crackheads bankrolled by megacorps & billionaires to damage the working class & social structures in the society.
    But the truth is this –> if Obama will not stand up for any of his so called base, than we need to force him to take a stand for us or get out & we’ll have someone else do the job.
    Despite Bush making the job of President look like a farce & seem like anyone could do it, Obama is not doing the job of *leading* the Left Wing in the USA. (Which is probably b/c the Democratic Party is corrupted to the core by corporate bribes, lobbyists, and other miscellaneous evils involving the military-industrial complex and empirialism.)

    • freeopinions says

      Maybe you haven’t read what the Obama administration had to say about the liberal whiners who “put pressure” on him. I suggest that before you put pressure on a politician, that you amass at least a half-trillion dollar fortune. Then he might (just might) listen.

  15. Timi Burke says

    Progressives really kill me when they want to bleed-away General Election resources to waste on a Primary Challenge. The Conservative Agenda was to divide and conquer — you’re dancing to their tune. Perceived dissatisfaction with Obama dampens the Liberal-Leaning Independent Vote. Obamamania is what enthused all those voters in 2008.

    But worse, you’re not being smart strategically: more-Progressive legislation doesn’t come via a different Presidential Candidate — s/he would still be dealing with the Right-wing Propaganda Machine, the GOP Refusniks, and the Blue-Dog Dems..

    Winning strategy for more-Progressive legislation comes from a 2012 Dem sweep. And the only way to do that is make peace with your broken ideals and reach down for genuine enthusiasm for the 2nd Obama Presidency. To do otherwise is to indulge in your hurt egos, and not be savvy about getting what you want.

    • says

      President Obama, when reelected , will pay as much attention to the progressive agenda as he doing now,NOTHING!. In a 2′ term and the last, a President can do whatever, in this case, his corporate masters will tell him. So don’t even expect Obama to pay any attention to us, deeply disappointed progressives.

    • Ty says

      Obama is one heck of a salesman (hope! change!) but he’s an ineffective, wimpy, sold-out leader. He looks more and more like an opportunistic lying politician with every passing day. And he acts like a Republican, albeit one of the old-fashioned moderate ones. I don’t think we can win the general with him, especially with the double-dip coming up and high unemployment likely to continue.

  16. Craig says

    If a challenger could campaign to make local party organizations stronger, it might be a good thing. We have what’s called a weak party system which is a polite way of saying we have a corrupt system. A progressive alternative to this would mean setting up a good communication system with Internet and non Internet Democrats . Emails are cheap and widely available of Democrats. Robo calls for seniors. We are pissing in the wind if we don’t make organizing people the main motivation for a primary challenge.


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