The solution: So we work hard and elect 60 progressive Senators? That would be wonderful but it ain't happening and sadly, probably never will. The only viable remedy for this political reality is to elect a coalition of 60 Progressive Democrats and Libertarian Republicans. How do we get this? First we find electable progressives in states which have elected them already or are likely to nominate one in the next Democratic primary. If a progressive Democratic Senator is being challenged seriously by a politically viable blue dog Democrat, protect the progressive by voting for her or him in the Democratic primary. If the progressive candidate's nomination is secure and there are no serious contests down ticket between a progressive and a blue dog, use your vote more wisely by casting it in the Republican primary. Become a Green Republican for the next primary season.
How to vote as a Green Republican in the GOP primary: If there are candidates running for any office, but especially for the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President who are consistent libertarians and who are committed to significant reductions in wasteful and false security spending and willing to work with progressives to construct true coalition legislation for debt reduction and funding state and/or federal projects to repair, modernize and green our infrastructure, vote to nominate those candidates. If there are no such libertarians (or even rarer, clandestine progressives) running, consider voting for the most extreme right wing nut case available so as to increase the Democrat's chances of winning in the general election.
What this means for the presidential primaries: There are only two consistent libertarians running for the presidency, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. Don't divide the progressive vote. Vote for Ron Paul since he is obviously the more viable of the two. We want Ron Paul's candidacy to be an opportunity not just to nominate him but to get us closer to the 60 Senator coalition we need to get anything significant done. Such a coalition would probably agree to massive cuts in empire building and maintenance budgets. It could also possibly find a way to reform our convoluted and regressive tax and revenue system. Robert Frank's progressive consumption tax http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/11/inequality_and_executive_pay and the raising of tariffs on non democratic and repressive regimes are examples of possible creative compromises this coalition could put together.
How to vote in the general election: This is a hard decision to make. One might believe that voting for Obama's reelection is the good thing to do because of the risk of Paul going purist and rejecting true coalition governance and because 60 coalition Senators allows for President Obama to act and govern like the progressive he truly is. In regards to the former concern, Paul has frequently proved that he will join forces with progressives to propose legislation which if enacted would advance the progressive agenda along with his own libertarian one. Furthermore, Paul is the rare species of politician who means exactly what he says and votes consistently according to what he promises.
In regard to the latter hope, judging from his record since becoming president, one could argue that Obama will keep his promises if they are politically viable and drop those promises quickly if he does not deem them doable. Progressives have much to be thankful for with Obama's record on cultural issues but on issues of national security and civil liberties, he has been as bad as Bush, if not worse. Furthermore, on economic issues such as dealing with the banks, tax policy, choices for how to reduce debt, and health care, he has been at best mildly helpful, and to some measure at least, counter productive.
What this strategy adds up to: A significant infiltration of progressive voters into the 2012 Republican primaries would noticeably disrupt the GOP's convention in Tampa Bay. A big enough number of such Green Republicans would severely punish the proto-fascist party, making 1968 Chicago look like a church picnic. Under such a scenario Republicans might defect and run an independent Romney/Perry clone ticket. Or they might do the only sensible thing and make nice with Paul and smile as they write someone else in at the polls in November.
How does Paul get enough votes to make this scenario a reality? He has to reach out deliberately and frequently with specific policy proposals to progressives. It is clear that Paul cannot win the nomination without an influx of at least 2 million progressive Democrats and independents. If he did that in a three way race, he can get a plurality of voters and a slim majority of delegates, enough to have Romney and Perry kissing on stage and who knows what happening on the streets of Tampa Bay as Paul's delegates walk out.
If on the other hand wiser heads prevail and Paul is politely allowed to have the nomination so the establishment neo-cons can prove that greed only gets elected if accompanied by hate and violence, we have a game changing general election. The debate between Obama and Paul will not be about Obama repeating the same tired cliches to prove he is just as strongly violent as the Republicans are and just as willing as they are to give out "targeted tax cuts" while draining seniors of their entitlements.
Instead, we will have a debate in which the Democrat has the chance to say enough is enough with the endless wars and false security spending. We need to reduce debt and fully fund the building of a peaceful green economy and not give billions away to super wealthy while preying on myopic young adults and telling us all to fend for ourselves because voluntary organizations can take care of the needy.
Whether Obama makes that case in a debate with Paul, remains to be seen. However, it is all too clear that he stands a strong chance of losing to a neo-con, and that even winning against such a predictable candidate will probably not get him the 60 senators he needs to really be a progressive president. Instead of governing as progressive, he is more likely to govern as he does now. Make clever populist sounding speeches from time to time while adhering strictly to a culturally liberal version of the global corporatist agenda.
Obama II's strategy will go something like this: Compromise with Republicans by lowering marginal rates and closing loopholes in the tax code without limiting the total value of loopholes left open. Protect social security by raising the cap and the retirement age slightly. Reduce debt by cutting spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other domestic discretionary spending at least as much as (but probably more than) one cuts military spending. Don't brag about spying on and killing American citizens. Tell the American people they are safer because you are more effective at killing terrorists than Bush was. Keep the banks solvent by not requiring them to lend money at affordable interest rates to small businesses and ordinary individuals and families. Allow drilling in generously selective areas on land and sea while doubling the number of wind turbines and solar panels at the same time you fund modernization of nuclear energy plants. Obama might even get unemployment near or below 7 percent by the end of his second term under such conditions. A Romney clone would do the much of the same with only slightly less green appeasement.
Of course it would not be all roses under Ron Paul. The best compromise under a Paul administration would be to leave most of the domestic budget untouched with maybe inflation rate increases while redistributing (Paul would not use that word....) to the states half of the savings on cuts from drug wars, body probes, aerial Muslim abortions and other such fully funded violence subsidies. We probably get the same reduction in unemployment by 2016 as we would under one or the other global corporatists because we would not use all of the savings from violence reduction coffers on government contracted jobs to build green infrastructure, hire more teachers to a better paid education work force and subsidize the production of safer, faster and energy efficient trains and planes.
If we could go all in on the progressive economic agenda to build the peaceful, green and truly democratic economy and culture, we would get the unemployment rate below 6 in 4 years time and below 4 in 8. Sadly, not enough Americans have the courage and/or the wisdom to vote for such an ambitious agenda. Progressives must face this reality and hope and work towards better choices in 2016. 2012 has to be a year of deal making and compromises if we are to get anything progressive done over the next 4 years. We need political and media leaders on the left to face this reality so we can all get on with the dirty work of an eventually real revolution. If not this strategy, what other? If not now, when?