Here (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/12/29-0) is a perfect example of the complexity already arising in thinking about 2012, and, in my view, also an example of both the dangers and opportunities confronting the left, in particular. To use Carl Davidson's excellent slogan around which left and working class forces can mobilize-- "peace and prosperity vs war and austerity" -- this is clearly a time when we can qualitatively expand the base of support for the principles the slogan expresses. The question is: can we do this and not end up playing a Nader-like spoiler role, that concludes by electing the Right, in those campaigns, primaries, etc where our main objective is to move the political center lelftward, and strengthen the hand of center forces against the right. Of course, in those campaigns where the left coalition has winning chances, where the center is ready to be led by left forces, tactics differ.
The complexity of the US political process at this moment requires shrewd and careful AND BOLD calculations
There are few, if any, politicians on the left more shrewd than Bernie Sanders. I am not convinced about Bernie's denials. I got to know him somewhat in my years as a UE rep in Vt, and later as DO for the Communist Party in N. New England. With a few arguable exceptions, he has always -- both ideologicaly and politically -- pursued a working class line. As important, he become a demonstrated master of very concrete tactics directed at isolating the right, without appearing irresponsible or reckless to center forces. He kept focused on the concretes -- especially economics, and non-corrupt governance -- that blunted repeated attempts by the right to isolate him.
He would have to run as a Democrat in the 2012 primaries, in order not to be counted as a spoiler. Unlike Nader, Bernie has never been a 'spoiler' politician. But running as a Democrat, after years of success as an Independent is something I think he would be temperamentally loath to do. Part of his success at independence is due to some very peculiar features unique to Vermont political history, that would not be practical to reproduce nationally. Nonetheless, I am sure he will be tempted.
Personally, at this point, I think a primary challenge against Obama is a mistake -- the history of such challenges is not encouraging for defeating Republicans. Obama is not a Blue Dog-er, IMHO, but rather a liberal doing what Presidents do -- not straying too far from the Center. I think we should focus our primary challenge energies against the blue dogs and in local and state campaigns where we can strengthen and galvanize our grass roots base. But I am willing to be persuaded otherwise -- only if we ourselves--the Left are grown-up enough to be as shrewd and smart and flexible as Kucinich on health care, or Sanders through most of his career.