President Obama is under attack these days from all manner of nasty conservatives who don’t care for his liberal, big spending ways. They seem to have found an unlikely ally, though, in the person of the only officially declared socialist in Congress… Bernie Sanders. (Emphasis in original.)
SANDERS: Brian, believe me, I wish I had the answer to your question. Let me just suggest this. I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president; who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and there’s deep disappointment. So my suggestion is, I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him and I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing. […] So I would say to Ryan [sic] discouragement is not an option. I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.
It’s hard to say how much impact this will have, because traditionally Sanders hasn’t enjoyed a tremendous amount of influence outside his own state. But it is a sign of growing discontent with the political arm of his party. For better or worse, Obama is offering up some spending cuts which will effectively take the legs out from under most of the advertisements congressional Democrats are planning on running next year.
It’s difficult to talk about “Republicans destroying Medicare and Social Security as we know it” during the campaign if the titular leader of your party has just forced a vote on you to cut it yourself. It’s even tougher to talk about the need to “tax the rich” so everyone can “pay their fair share” if your President cuts deals to enact even bigger tax cuts than his predecessor. (Cuts which he already signed on to extending.)
Sanders can’t very well run against Obama himself in a primary since he’s not a registered Democrat. (Though, in theory, he could sign up at any time this year and still do it.) I suppose he’s expecting an actual Democrat to step up to the plate and do it for the sake of stopping Obama from running to the middle in a Clinton like move to secure a second term. Even so, given the President’s currently tanking numbers, I don’t expect a long line of Democratic leaders to step up and attempt this.