We may think that President Obama's reelection is inevitable and that would probably be true. Thanks in part to Rick Santorum undermining Mitt Romney and Romney's inevitable nomination, Obama may have the fortune of facing the weakest GOP challenger since Goldwater.
Furthermore, if as I suspect most Ron Paul supporters shift their support to Gary Johnson in the general election, Obama will likely landslide Romney and maybe even regain the House while keeping the Senate.
Given all this good news, it is tempting to get excited about the prospects of Obama 2. Given the mandate of a landslide and unfettered by the need to be re-elected, the word will at last become flesh, populist rhetoric will become political reality.
For a moment let's imagine the best: progressive tax reform with a 40% marginal rate for millionaires. Permanent payroll tax reduction funded by raising the cap to a million dollars. A universally available public option added to Obamacare. And if the Supreme Court rejects the individual mandate, single payer, what we wanted all along, will be passed before the midterm elections. Spending will shift from wars, occupations, corporate welfare and all other forms empire building and maintenance to green technology and infrastructure. Good paying jobs will come back by the millions. Obama will leave office as the greatest president since FDR and pass the baton on to Hilary.
As lovely a picture as that may be, let's be real. Regardless of how well this election turns out for Obama, he will not have 60 progressives Senators next year and so very little of this agenda (assuming it is his) will make it to his desk for signature.
What we can more realistically expect is the preservation of Obamacare to evolve over a generation into something like the German system of universal coverage. We may see a few minor military skirmishes and war with Iran may be averted. Gas prices will fall to just below $3 a gallon before they creep back up to around $3.50 remain there for there last 2 years of Obama's presidency. He'll leave office with unemployment near 6% with a net job increase of 12 million over 8 years, with 20 million created in the last six years of his two terms in office.
Not a bad record but any future president wanting to start a war will be able to do so without congressional approval through the war powers act. American citizens can and will be taken into custody and held without charges. A few will be assassinated with only the president's declaration of their status as an enemy. That power in Hilary's hands will not look much different from Obama's but eventually a Liz Cheney presidency will up the ante.
Military contracts and a national fossil fuel boom will account for nearly half of the new jobs with most of the other jobs coming through service sector employment at near minimum wage. Foregoing any significant increase in the minimum wage will be the political price for closing tax loopholes and making the top rate 28% rather than 25%.
The military and security budget will be well above a trillion a year. Medicare and Medicaid will be cut back with more private insurers taking over. A deal will be struck that raises the retirement age to 70 by the end of the century and moves the social security cap up to $250K in the same time frame. The total payroll tax burden will reach 20% well ahead of those changes.
Who knows what will happen? Gas prices could continue to rise and stay high through November, helping Romney. The best that progressives can do is put the pressure on Obama. Voting for Ron Paul in the primary sends the president a message: cut the military budget first and foremost before you do anything with the domestic budget. End the drug war now. Restore civil liberties by ending the patriot act now.
Get Paul the needed boost and see what he decides to do. There is still an outside chance he will form a real coalition candidacy. If not, with enough support he will be compelled to run third party or independent. Doing so puts him on the debate stage and keeps Obama from tilting further right on war and military spending.
Do you really have anything to gain from voting for Obama in the primary? You still have much to lose by not voting for Paul in the primary.