If we elect a Democratic President this fall, then three years from now progressive Democrats will need to make a decision about a primary challenge for that President if certain metrics are not met. I call this Accountability TwentyTwelve: regardless of how charmed you may be now with one or the other of our current candidates, and no matter how hard we all work to elect a Democrat to the White House this November, at what point do progressives realize we’ve been conned?
What are the unmet expectations you won’t forgive? What are the unrealized hopes and dreams you’re unwilling to forget? What meager accomplishments are you willing to let our President run on in 2012, unchallenged within our party for re-election?
What will get you to seek out someone to consider a challenge to the incumbent of our own party? What conditions must pertain in order for you to believe that the new President, in whom we invested so much energy, has failed us?
Here’s my list. Join me in the comments with yours.
1. If US troops are still dying in the Middle East. This is absolute. If the new President hasn’t ended the occupation of Iraq, then I will support an intraparty challenger.
2. If the current health care mess still prevails. We need something better — in place and well underway. It also needs to have a clear path to universal single-payer health care, or I will find someone to challenge the incumbent.
3. If the Unitary Executive still exists. I expect the next Democratic President to immediately restore the rule of law throughout the Executive Branch. I also expect clear actions that show respect for checks and balances. Absent a return to tripartite government, I will back a challenger.
4. If our current energy and environmental situation is unchanged. This is a rather sweeping requirement, as it should be. I expect the posture of our Federal government to morph into something quite yet unseen, with huge tax incentives for green investment, the removal of tax breaks for carbon companies, and a Manhattan Project for energy independence. I want us to respect Mother Gaia in all we do. If the current President hasn’t gotten any of that off the ground, I will support another’s candidacy in our party’s presidential primary.
5. If Bush Era lawbreakers, philosophers, and profiteers roam free. Yup, I want some amazing televised show trials of attorneys who politicized the justice department, authorized torture, and invented the Fourth Branch. I want the corporate executives who provided dirty food and water to our troops, built Iraqi jails that leaked human waste, and repainted Baghdad airport trucks and resold them to our country prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. I want those who twisted intelligence and manipulated our media exposed and impeached. I want this question to ring loud throughout the land: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Federalist Society?" Without these cathartic events, any attempt at a "bygones" Presidency will draw a challenger, and I will support that challenger.
6. If the War on Terror is still being waged. I want Osama bin Laden captured and put on trial for his crimes, but I also want Gitmo closed. Let’s use the principles handed to us by our Founders to renew Americans’ belief in our constitutional compact. Indict, try, convict, imprison. If America is still living our false BushCo paradigm of fear, I will see the next President on the campaign trail.
7. If the Federal Government still protects corporations from citizens, instead of the other way round. I want a Labor Department that helps working people, not capital. I want a State Department that conducts diplomacy, not gives orders. I want an FDA that protects consumers of food and drugs, not their producers. I want an Agriculture Department that promotes and supports sustainable farming, not corporate greed. In short, I want a government of, for, and by the people. Anything less than measurable progress is unacceptable, and will find me actively recruiting a challenger.
8. If campaigns for federal office are still privately funded. I expect the next President to propose and enact an exclusive system of full public financing for election to all federal offices. Compromises in this arena will make me look elsewhere within our party for a presidential candidate in 2012.
9. If FDR’s words have not been returned to a rightful place in our national discourse. Sure, it will be great to hear the new President orate on issues new to our world since the New Deal. But I also expect our next President to engage fully in the Class War that’s been waged on the non-upper classes since the end of the 1970s. And if the new President is not comfortable quoting FDR’s 1936 Madison Square Garden speech, then I will find a candidate in my party who is.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these factors been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.
(Seventy-two years. Holds up pretty well, don’t you think?)
What’s on your list? What must our next President accomplish in the first three years in order for you to sign on to the Committee To Re-Elect? I’ve got more ideas, and I’ll happily share them in comments, but these are my Big Nine for TwentyTwelve.
What about yours?
PS — Comments about the current primary are out of place in this thread. Yeah, I know it’s late nite, but let’s have some non-pie, non-poo fun. Cast our minds forward and measure the next Presidency for its first Accountability Moment. There will be plenty of time for primary talk elsewhere.