Dean for Change! Thoughts on Exiting from Donnie Fowler
by donnie, Sat Feb 05, 2005 at 12:19:54 PM EST
Right after Election Day 2004, when I was flying back from Michigan after helping Kerry win the state, I began a conversation I have had with myself many times. It goes something like this: "When will they get it? When will they understand that the electorate has changed over the last twenty years? When will they recognize that we can't keep doing the same things the same way and expect a different result?"
Well, I stopped myself this time before I slid down the slippery slope of frustration that many of us have felt over the last several elections. "At some point," I said to myself, "you need to quit waiting on `they' and try doing it yourself." The aristocracy of consultants had lost the purpose of their work - not wealth and stubborn adherence to conventional wisdom, but flexibility and innovation.
It was at that point that I decided not to return to California where I've lived the past few years or wait on the 2006 campaign. The DNC chair's race was wide open for the first time since 1988, when Ron Brown was elected after Michael Dukakis lost to George the First. I knew I had the experience needed now at the national party headquarters - four presidential campaign cycles, six presidential candidates, fourteen states working on the ground, and a lifelong passion for local political organizing. Plus, I believe that local people know better and that strong state parties and successful elected officials should teach the rest of the Party their best lessons. It is the DNC's job to then help each candidate and assist state and county parties to achieve new standards or performance.
I had little to lose by making the case for building up state parties and by calling for Democrats to stand up and tell the American voters that we have a heart and soul. We have core principles that unite us as progressives and clearly distinguish us from Republicans.
Among these values are equal opportunity for all, open access to the basic needs that society provides, ensuring a fair shake for those who work hard, tearing down historical and artificial barriers to success, building strong families and strong communities, and keeping our nation strong by leadership among nations rather than coercion of nations.
The Republicans, as inheritors of our nation's conservative movement, have it wrong. Opportunity for them extends only to their wealthy and powerful friends. Access to them means limiting availability of high-quality health care, an affordable education, and a decent wage to only those who have already succeeded. Instead of giving everyone a fair shake, they cut sweet-heart deals for their friends on Wall Street, former colleagues in the oil industry, and former employers like Halliburton. Instead of tearing down historical barriers to success, they do nothing to make college cheaper while gutting opportunity programs like affirmative action and workers' organizing rights. Strong communities to Republicans mean hiding behind walls of fear while restricting indvidual liberties and the right to privacy. And a strong nation to Republicans means unilateral force under false pretenses.
The Republicans have adopted a cynical strategy in the last few years when it comes to pushing their radical agenda. First, they scare us - WMDs! Social security crisis! Then they take our money and tell us it's good for us - $5 billion a month in Iraq; reduced benefits after paying into retirement funds. Finally, when the truth comes out, they change the story - WMDs? Not any more! Freedom!
Fortunately, the Democratic National Committee will get the kind of change it needs. With Howard Dean as its next chair, the Party will have someone who not only understands change, but knows how to make it happen.
Importantly, Governor Dean has committed to implement many of the changes that I advocated during my chair's race:
* Moving Regional Press and Political Organizing Operations Out of DC and Into the States
* Assigning an Executive in the Office of the Chair as Liaison to State Parties
* Achieving Record Diversity Among DNC Staff and Consultants
As a presidential candidate and as a candidate for Chair, Governor Dean has brought with him a grassroots movement that will reinvigorate the Democrats with new activism and new voters. As a former governor and former Chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Governor Dean also knows the value of respecting and including those who are most loyal to the Party. It's the best of the new and the traditional. And the Democratic Party will be better for it.
It's why I endorse Governor Dean for DNC Chair and hope to contribute to his and the new DNC's successes.
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