DEAN: Something to think about

Howard Dean inspired me.  He was the first candidate I EVER opened my checkbook to.  I couldn't give much, but he made me feel like I was part of a movement, and he helped engage me in the process (or at least in different parts of the political process) than I had been before.

That said, I cannot support him for DNC chair, and as much as the vast majority of those on this blog admire and respect this man, I think it is important that a few things are kept in mind.

Howard Dean is a polarizing figure.  His name alone invkes rage on the part of conservatives.  I like that, because I tend to enjoy angering that group.

However, this visceral reaction many conservatives have to him is shared by independant voters, those our party will have to convert in 2006 and 2008 should we hope to win seats in Congress and, hopefully, the White House.  The fact, then, that our titular leader would be found anathema by not only many Dems (a fact which cannot be disputed based on the "LAST CHOICE FOR CHAIRMAN" question asked by the Hotline poll) but also swing voters leads me to question whether Dean can lead us to victory over the next four years.  Though I understand he is the unabashed leader and voice of the progressive movement, I am of the belief that a moderate VOICE pushing a progressive AGENDA will win far more acceptance among the electorate.

Futhermore, I question his managerial skills.  First, I am offended by people who say that without Dean they will abandon their activism.  Dean inspired people, but his absence should in no way deter you from fighting to restore a Democratic majority.  Ultimately the party is not about a person; it is about ideas.  What we all need is someone willing and, perhaps more importantly, able and adept at channeling these ideas into action.  What we need is a fighter...and a winner.

And this, the ultimate goal, mission, and job of the next DNC Chair must be placed in the hands of a savvy, skilled, tenacious political hand.  The fact of the matter is, Howard Dean spent $50 million and whittled away the biggest lead in the history of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.  Where did this money go?  How was it spent?  Why did he not get any results?  The DNC Chair must be accountable to the party's donors, and based on his record Howard Dean was too far removed from the process to really know what was going on.  

We can't afford such a malady again.

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Let's just suppose
for a second that you're right about Dean....

Kerry WON independent voters in 2004 - as did Gore in 2000.  And by a much much larger margin than Kerry lost the popular vote.  A strategy that relies on winning even more independents is wrongheaded for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is its track record. What we really need is not independent voters (who I think these days can be described as being good enough citizens to vote but not so good that they think about the issues in any serious way) but those 45-50% of the potential electorate who don't vote at all.  That requires an inspirational figure.

The fact is that people - including most independents - hate viscerally hate Dick Cheney.  Did the repiglicans care?  Why should we?

Of course, this assumes what you're saying about Dean's popularity is true.  I doubt that it is.

by amoose 2005-01-16 12:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's just suppose
I agree we need an inspirational figure...


We need a strong Democrat and a savvy politician running the DNC.

Dean may be the former but surely not the latter.

by DemDog 2005-01-16 12:26PM | 0 recs
Just what the public is yearning for:
A "savvy politician."

I bet all those people who stay home on election day, or even more of those oh-so-attractive independents and other non-dems would have voted for Kerry if only they had seen him as more the "savvy politician."
And to have the newly crowned public face of the party (candidate or not) be recognized as a savvy politician, well I'm sure millions will register as dems just to be part of that kind of history...

Of the candidates for DNC chair Dean has by far the best record in terms of being fiscally responsible.

Right now the democrats don't have a clear leader.  Kerry lost and has abdicated that role (along with some other things).  The DNC race has attracted the attention it has because of this fact.  Well, that and the fact that Dean is running in it.  We do need an inspirational figure in that position now.  I believe Dean can be that figure.  In fact, DFA is one of only two developments in the last 4-8 years that democrats can hang any hopes on.  The other, I think is the rise of blogs and the internet as a political organizing tool.  They proved their effectiveness in Dean's campaign.

And yes.  If somebody like Fowler wins the DNC chair, that will be the last straw for many people, myself included.

by amoose 2005-01-16 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Just what the public is yearning for:
"Of the candidates for DNC chair Dean has by far the best record in terms of being fiscally responsible."

Please explain.

by DemDog 2005-01-16 12:55PM | 0 recs
11 balanced budgets in a row a state that didn't require them.

Also, he was the only presidential Candidate who was serious about deficit reduction.

What don't you get?

by Jim in Chicago 2005-01-16 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: 11 balanced budgets in a row
Jim, I think we're talking about being fiscally responsible with donors $$$.

Dean managed to go through $50 million in the primaries without much to show for it.

by DemDog 2005-01-17 05:21AM | 0 recs
Not much to show for it?
Other than completely changing and controlling the debate during the primaries you mean? The only way Kerry and Edwards were able to overtake Dean was to adopt (or offer slight variations on ) virtually all his positions before the majority of Iowa voters started paying attention.
by Jim in Chicago 2005-01-18 08:27PM | 0 recs
constructive disagreement, and then-
I hope those DNC hopefuls will reach out to each other to formulate a winning long term strategy and message.

And I hope we can all stay focused on defeating this fascist crap from the GOP in a couple years from now, even if someone like McCain gets nominated.

by Sam Loomis 2005-01-16 01:47PM | 0 recs
Swing State Conservatives
I live in a red state.  A number of the people I work with are conservative Christians.  None of them hates Dean.  Most of them don't know much about him (except the scream).  The most politically active of the bunch likes Dean a lot.  She likes that he is a straight shooter who says what he means and means what he says.  
by zii 2005-01-16 01:54PM | 0 recs
Polarizing figures
Yeah, the Republicans suffered so with the polarizing leadership of Newt Gingrich after Clinton was elected.  They had a net gain of only 54 seats in the House in 1994 and retook the Senate at the same time.

Do you really think Dean is more polarizing or further from the true political center than Newt?

by Jim in Chicago 2005-01-16 02:06PM | 0 recs
Dean a polarizing figure
First of all since when have the Republicans cared about polarizing figures? hmmmm......Never. Whose in charge now? They are. We democrats and we liberals have to stop running away from who we are. We're never gonna win an election by taking the middle ground. We have to take the high ground. Kerry, Edwards, and the rest of the castrated "New Democrats" have gotten us nowhere.
by sam89 2005-01-16 02:33PM | 0 recs
You're assuming...
Democrats and Republicans are the same.  [They aren't.]

I would argue we have a much more diverse constituency.  I think this is great, but it also makes it more difficult to coalesce
around a polarizing figure such a Dean.

And yes, I think his image is one that is just as polarizing as Newt's.  And while I find Dean the person perfectly fine, his image (which, thanks to our 24/7 media, is all that really matters) is a problem.

Things like the Scream and Confederate Flag remark sure didn't help, and sadly things like this are part of his permanent image now.

by DemDog 2005-01-16 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: You're assuming...
Even if we Dems are more diverse the Republicans still have won the past three elections. This moving to the center crap doesn't seem to be working.
by sam89 2005-01-16 02:40PM | 0 recs
Iowa poll (Des Moines Register)
Most Iowa voters were closer to Kerry on the issues than to Bush.  Most disapproved of Bush;s performance (both in Iraq and on the economy).  Bush was considered more trustworthy and a much stronger leader.  Kerry lost Iowa by 10,000 votes. Iowa swung not on the issues but on "character."

I suspect that you would find the same results in Ohio, New Mexico, amd maybe Florida

Incidentally, Dem voters saw Bush as "stubborn" rather than "stupid."

by David Kowalski 2005-01-16 07:49PM | 0 recs
Sick and tired
I am sick and tired of all these people from the GOP wing of the party saying that we have to keep moving to the middle and basically give up our values to win elections again.  We have tried that, it does NOT work, plus it makes us feel bad about ourselves and what we are doing.  What we have to do is to run aggressive campaigns everywhere.  If we do that starting now, we may be able to win big in 2006, possibly taking back Congress, which would pave the way for 2008.
by Max Friedman 2005-01-17 04:03AM | 0 recs


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