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Rachel Maddow should run for President of the United States of America. Seriously Rachel, you should.

This is not because I want to see President Obama not have a second term. He has accomplished more for the progressive cause than any president since, well, Johnson. Assuming he does run for four more years he is infinitely superior to any Republican the GOP will nominate. And a progressive third party candidate will only serve to split the liberal vote allowing say, Sarah Palin, to walk into 1900 Penn. Ave. on a plurality. The reason someone like Maddow should run is in order to enhance the prospects for Obama while boosting the fortunes of the progressive cause.

The mainstream left is suffering from a really big problem these days. The lack of strong political leadership. Because Obama has opted to be a centrist President – probably both because that is his preference as well as his political calculation for better or worse -- he has effectively abandoned his liberal base. This is why even though the current administration and 111th Congress have put a lot of liberal policies into place progressives are so dismayed these days; after having elected the first African-American president with enormous hopes of a great shift to the left, they have been cut adrift with no major figure to proclaim their cause. Hillary is part of his administration, and she is pretty centrist herself (her associates contend that she would have dropped major health reform in order to retain more of the center vote). The Kennedys are out of the picture, and they are so 20th century in any case. Ye old Ralph Nader is even more 1900s, and he merely splits the progressive vote. For reasons that are obscure no other liberal has achieved the national stature to represent the enormous numbers of Americans who want a more advanced and modern nation.

Surveys show that the number of Americans who prefer what are labeled progressive policies are a minority, but a very large minority at least as large as those who support policies that are considered conservative. Sociopolitical researchers including myself are showing that the long term demographic and cultural trends favor progressivism (; Bush II only got to the White House because a screwy electoral college system allowed the Republicans on the Supreme Court to wave him in, and the Repubs just made big gains only because the economy is in such terrible shape – that because the Republican version of the American Way drove it into such a deep canyon (  

One reason that liberals are not doing as well as their numbers indicate they should is because of a lack of discipline. Where was the million progressives march on the capital for a truly universal health care system or at least the public option? Why didn’t liberals pack the townhall meetings in the late summer and fall of 2009? Had the petulant left not turned out in such low numbers this November the damage would have been more limited. The left could use more moxy.

The right -- being more conformist and autocratic despite their constant proclamations of being all for individual liberty and so forth -- are more disciplined, but they also enjoy more in the way of leadership. In particular, they have John McCain’s most desperate and irresponsible gift to America, Sarah P. The she-dropped-the-governor-job-as-soon-as-she-could-cut-lucrative-book-media-deals quasi-politician very probably cannot be elected President in a head-to-head race with a mainstream Democrat, but she is aiding the hard conservative cause by keeping the base excited and hopeful while pushing the Republican movement to the right. The Palin phenomenon does have its downside, she is pandering to the John Birchian, Glen Beck wing of the Tea Party that she sometimes turns off even conservatives – the GOP failed to pick up two or three senate seats as a result.

Because getting liberals organized is like herding cats, the need for some leadership is all the more urgent. As Michael Lerner pointed out in the Washington Post (, the way to do this for the next couple of years is via a full blown, no holds barred, out and out progressive candidate for President in the Democratic primaries. One who can get liberals excited to have someone actually voicing their concerns in an open, forthright, and engaging manner. The left will have a reason to get off their sad sack butts and get active again. Meanwhile the existence of a strong progressive movement will both allow and pressure Obama to shift more to the left.

As the Wicked Witch of the West said in The Wizard of OZ, these things must be done delicately. The debacle of 1980 when a politically powerful albeit flawed Ted Kennedy damaged Carter so much that the election of Reagan was facilitated must be avoided. The aim is not to defeat Obama for the nomination or weaken his candidacy, in the end the progressive candidate will throw their support to the President. At the same time the progressive candidate must be well known to and liked by liberals, have good media presence, and be intellectually sharp (at least as sharp as Gingerich which is not really that hard to be, and way above Palin). A deep knowledge of American politics is a must. Best if the candidate were new to electoral politics (remember, this person is not intended to be the actual president), old school need not apply. Said person must be young to attract the youth base. It would not hurt if he or she was a she. Physically attractive is always good. So is a quality speaking voice. The ability to gut the right politically and intellectually when necessary is critical. When all is said and done a person who can get progressives of all ages animated and energized, enough to attract large crowds and significant primary votes.

When looking at Lerner’s list of potential liberal candidates the one who sticks out is – Rachel Maddow! She most of all has the above combination of attributes that would best serve the purposes and needs of the progressive cause moving towards 2012. Her ability to be happily cheery when skewering the right is especially appealing. Her modulated speaking voice is excellent, being superior to the grating high nasal pitch of Sarah (and Hillary). Young progressives are likely to flock to her.  

Here is something that Maddow as candidate could do. Repeatedly challenge Palin to debate. Palin keeps going on about how others should "man up" – a sexist put down of women if there is one. So call her on it. Maddow should shame Palin with repeated demands for a one-on-one confrontation. If Palin refuses she is exposed as a wimpy fraud. If she does accept Maddow can marshal the facts to show Palin up.

What with three hours of progressive evening programming MSNBC could afford to lose Maddow for a year and a half. For American citizens to drop their current and preferred career in favor of public service is a time honored tradition going back to the founders. As useful as Maddow is to the progressive cause as host of her MSNBC show, she could do more for advancing the nation as a political contender in the next couple of years. GE and now Comcast owned and operated MSNBC can never do as much for progressivism as can Murdoch’s FoxNews can for conservatism. And because -- as Olbermann expounds -- MSNBC retains basic mainstream standards, while Ailes allows his channel to sink to Glen Beck’s twisted conspiracy theories. By hitting the campaign trail Rachel will be able to get the progressive message out to many tens of millions more than the 1-1.5+ million who watch her show.

But what if, perchance, Maddow demurs? Then who else would do? Although qualified in a number of regards John Stewart is too ensconced at his Daily Show to be an option, and his being a comedian precludes his participation – don’t want another Pat Paulson. Olbermann has positives including the intellectual ability to go for the conservative jugular, but there are those who see him as too abrasive. Lawrence O’Donnell also has the smarts and considerable charm, but lacks Maddow’s exposure to date. To be blunt a number of the possibilities suggested by Lerner are too well worn, or dull. Al Franken has his points, but he is doing his best to serve the citizens of his state, and I wonder if he has the appeal to get the job done. Susan Sarandon as much as I am a fan is too Hollywood.

It is a fact that progressives currently lack the leadership any human movement must have to be successful in the short term, there is an urgent need for such a person, that person must be well qualified for the role, and Maddow best fits the bill.

So how about it Rachel, what do you say?  

Originally posted to Gregory Paul on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:38 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This fails to learn the essential lesson of 2008. (0+ / 0-)

    The qualities that make someone an awesome candidate aren't necessarily the qualities that would make them an awesome president.  For all of our fretting about Obama's lack of presidential political skills, i.e. the ability to use the formal and informal powers of the presidency to get what he (presumably) wants, there's no doubt that he is an excellent president in a million other ways, ways that aren't as much in the public, party-politics realm.  We know less than nothing about Maddow's ability in that regard--of course, as Clinton always noted during the primaries, we knew less than nothing about Obama's abilities there, but he's certainly passed that test.

    "George Washington said I was beautiful"--Sarah Palin on Barbara Bush, as imagined by Mark Sumner

    by Rich in PA on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:42:08 AM PST

  •  Rolls eyes. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, miami4obama, lightshine

    Not going to happen for a number of reasons,  one of which she wouldn't want to.

    RIP Pike Miners We will never forget

    by GlowNZ on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:47:58 AM PST

  •  I hate to break this to you (6+ / 0-)

    but Barack Obama is the most liberal candidate you will ever be able to elect in a national election.

    Politics without compromise is called "violence".

    by Walt starr on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:51:00 AM PST

  •  Rachel Maddow, John Stewart? (0+ / 0-)

    I am seriously trying to keep a straight face here, because i am sure you mean well, but  . . . . it is very hard.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:07:44 PM PST

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    If we're going that route, I mean elect someone to POTUS becasue they are so cool, or something....
    I want Denzel Washington and Maxwell for VP.

    Blessed are the peacemakers

    by lightshine on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:21:36 PM PST

  •  stop this crap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, miami4obama

    If Obama isn't re-elected in 2012 we will have a right wing nut as president so stop nonsense like this.
    America is really about to elect a left wing lesbian political commenter!

  •  All these comments sound as if (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prinny Squad

    the commenters didn't read the diary.

    He's not saying he wants Rachel to  BE president.  He wants her to RUN to get the liberal points out there and to destroy Sarah Palin, then fully support Barack Obama.

    I know it's a completely crazy idea but, you know, sometimes crazy ideas work.

    Just sayin...

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by Justice Hildebrand on Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 12:47:06 PM PST

  •  How about Rachel for Evening News Anchor... (0+ / 0-)

    of a major network?  Nobody in the media does better job of investigative journalism than her, right now.  NBC evening news could be relevant again.

    Then again, if they were serious about journalism, they would never have put a hack like David Gregory in charge of Meet the Press.

  •  Haven't seen the author of this diary respond, (0+ / 0-)

    but I have pondering the recent
    leftist and progressive electoral failure,
    and was wondering about the base demographics
    of self identification and affiliation for some time.

    Just as cultural icon Pete Townshend el kabonging
    Abbie Hoffman off Woodstocks stage seemed to set
    a theme for the cultural rejection of radical politics
    for generations, why does the diarist believe that
    a symbolic candidacy from a somewhat popular news
    spokesperson and advocate would help the general
    electorate accept policies and ideologies that they
    have shown a clear aversion to, and rejected, for decades?

    The reactionary electoral politics following the
    summer of love, days of rage, etc, despite the
    unquestioned social and cultural changes wrought
    by the "youth" movements of the 1960s, implies
    that the baby boom generation was not, and to
    this day are not, sadly, in my opinion, monolithic
    in their political associations or activities.

    A sociopolitcal researcher might be able to discover
    the actual numbers, back then, of those who would
    consider themselves leftists, or socialists, and
    compare them to the attitudes and affiliations of
    the same age demographic that is now approaching
    the period of time in their lives that generally sees
    a much higher percentage of political involvement
    and activity across the spectrum, as is normal.

    It would take systems theory chaos expert
    to decode all the many conflicting and perplexing
    crosscurrents of electoral results that have
    occurred in the wake of so much recent social
    and political upheaval and respective history.

    I have a suspicion, born not of hard evidence, but of
    the experience of my own immersion in a culture
    which has come to accept diversity and tolerance
    to a limited degree, but rejects equality and justice,
    in regards to their full implementation in the law,
    that the influence of radicals and leftists were
    historically and to this day, overestimated electorally.

    Most of the DFH, many who I still idolize, were
    essentially the economic beneficiaries of decades
    earlier legislative and social policies, and were
    radicalized largely by threats to their own personal
    loss of freedoms and individuality, but also by
    concerns and rebellion against the very nature
    and structure of modern industrial empires.
    And its political and bureaucratic manifestations.
    This would make for a reluctant and uninvolved
    electorate, that perhaps continues to this very day.

    But what percentage of their age demographic did
    they represent? A majority? Plurality? Or just
    a highly celebrated and popularized vocal, while
    ultimately ineffective, political minority?

    College was still for the sires of the well off.
    And they were by no means all radicals. Most of
    the baby boomers did not even attend college then.

    The real question I hope to answer is why
    did and does the general populace and electorate
    reject the political solutions offered by historical
    leftists and their modern political descendants?

    Were their leaders "weak", or lacking in the
    metaphorical reproductive or skeletal structure
    components of anatomy necessary for ultimate success?
    Spiritually, morally, or intellectually bereft, as
    some have claimed about present day politicians?
    I do not believe it to be so, but I may be wrong.

    What is it about progress, which most individuals
    would agree is a good and desirable trait for humanity,
    that is so resisted and fought, and often rejected
    politically when considered in the aggregate
    for our modern day technological societies?

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