While it was my fervent hope that a candidate of national stature and credibility would challenge President Obama in the 2012 Democratic primaries, I have entered my name in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary to offer my fellow disillusioned Democrats a choice.
The growing sense of political hopelessness, frustration and alienation symbolized in the fledgling Occupy Wall Street movement represents a much larger national trend.
I hope that my candidacy, as limited as it may turn out to be, might in some small measure restore a belief in American politics and American government, reinforcing the notion that real change can be achieved at the ballot box.
In addition to New Hampshire, I intend to enter several other Democratic primaries, including my birthplace of Pennsylvania, which votes in late April.
I had originally hoped that somebody like Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio or Florida firebrand Alan Grayson would carry the progressive banner against the Obama Administration. I have personally encouraged several of them to run, without success.
I simply didn’t anticipate the kind of paralysis that seems to have immobilized the party’s progressives when it comes to challenging a sitting President of their own party.
Sadly, there’s no Gene McCarthy on the horizon.
Yet we need, perhaps now more than ever, someone with the courage to stand up and fight for the progressive values and causes that President Obama paid so much lip service to in 2008.
While I did not see any great threat to the Democratic Party’s unity and strength in mounting such a seemingly quixotic challenge to an incumbent president, I thought a candidacy by one of those mentioned above could have served as an important and healthy counterbalance to an administration too often willing to forsake the party’s proud progressive legacy in its haste to compromise with the “Party of No.”
I think it’s fair to say, and should be said, that President Obama needlessly squandered his first two years in office, saddling the nation with health care legislation that nobody really wanted instead of fighting for a single-payer Medicare-for-All program that would insure the basic health needs of every American.
While pushing for legislation seen by many on the Left as a boon to the private insurance industry, the President virtually ignored the country’s mounting jobs crisis — until he started running for re-election, that is.
Extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy added insult to injury and, in no small measure, helped to give rise to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Unlike the last Democratic administration, the gap between rich and poor has widened substantially during Obama’s presidency.
The recipient of a staggering $37.6 million in Wall Street money between 1998 and his election in 2008, the President has been about as effective in turning this recession-ravaged economy around as Herbert Hoover in 1932. That was, of course, the year when the beleaguered Republican President tried to rescue the ailing U.S. economy with the passage of the relatively modest Emergency Relief and Construction Act and the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, neither of which came close to ending the Great Depression.
Instead of modeling his economic policy agenda after Herbert Hoover, President Obama and his advisers should have instead studied FDR and the New Deal.
The President’s $787 billion stimulus package in 2009 — much of which was used by Republican governors and GOP-controlled legislatures to balance state budgets — did little for the private sector and was simply too meager to pull the country out of the depths of the “Great Recession,” a devastating economic downturn that millions of Americans believe never ended.
The President’s paltry and late-in-the-game $447 billion son-of-stimulus — if approved — will have the same minimal effect. However, it’s proving to be a powerful campaign weapon for a President desperately trying to reclaim his dispirited base. A cynic might say that’s its real purpose.
As should be clear to everybody, the President is now in full campaign mode. Progressives shouldn’t be fooled again.
The Democratic Party needs a bold and decisive leader, somebody who will fight for poor, working and middle-class Americans — those who have been mercilessly pummeled throughout this seemingly never-ending economic crisis.
More than 25.8 million Americans are out of work or only marginally employed, and millions have tragically lost their homes. Small businesses, the backbone of the U.S. economy, are struggling while cash-rich major corporations amass record profits and park hordes of cash overseas.
The American people are hurting, and they’re hurting badly.
Working together, let’s send our President a message he can‘t ignore.
To learn more about Darcy Richardson’s campaign for the Democratic nomination, visit www.darcy2012.com.