“It’s Time for Change!”

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 5, 2011

Matt Stoller, of MyDD fame, thinks that the Democratic party needs a new nominee come 2012:

From the debt ceiling fiasco to the recent rescheduling of a jobs speech at the behest of Speaker Boehner, it has not been a good summer for President Obama. Like Chinese water torture, Gallup’s daily tracking poll has shown a steady and unrelenting drip of bad news. He has been in and out of the high 30s for his approval, and in the low to mid-50s for his disapproval.

George W. Bush’s approval rating didn’t drop this low until Katrina hit. And on the economy, 71 percent of Americans disapprove of how Obama is doing his job. Even among reliably Democratic groups — union households, women and young people — he’s now unpopular.

No one, not even the president’s defenders, expect his coming jobs speech to mean anything. When the president spoke during a recent market swoon, the market dropped another 100 points. Democrats may soon have to confront an uncomfortable truth, and ask whether Obama is a suitable choice at the top of the ticket in 2012. They may then have to ask themselves if there’s any way they can push him off the top of the ticket.

That these questions have not yet been asked in any serious way shows how weak the Democratic Party is as a political organization. Yet this political weakness is not inevitable, it can be changed through courage and collective action by a few party insiders smart and principled enough to understand the value of a public debate, and by activists who are courageous enough to face the real legacy of the Obama years.

I don’t think that any such challenge to the President’s efforts to get re-nominated and re-elected will emerge. And yet, there is something notable about Stoller’s essay. Democrats were once enamored of Barack Obama. But they no longer are. A lot of the disillusionment Stoller discusses is just histrionics. But histrionics can drive votes, and while the likes of Stoller are not sufficient to change history, perhaps like Maureen Dowd, Stoller may have captured the zeitgeist as we head into the next Presidential election.

The most likely scenario is that the President will be re-nominated; Stoller himself admits that his dreams of having someone challenge the President for the Democratic nomination are likely just that. Increasingly, however, the President runs the risk of having his base stay home in 2012. Maybe the Republicans will sufficiently terrify the Democratic base so that it will swallow its doubts about Barack Obama, and show up to vote anyway. But maybe, the base simply won’t care.

(Thanks to Ben Domenech for the link.)

  • Wdfyfe

    Isn’t Hillary still kicking around somewhere?

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