Dean for Change! Thoughts on Exiting from Donnie Fowler

Thoughts on Exiting


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.


Tags: (all tags)



Bravo Donnie!
What are your plans? We need people like you and Simon R. to keep working at high levels in the party (btw, you should post this at dailykos also).

You ran a great campaign, thanks for standing up to power!

by sonandar 2005-02-05 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Bravo Donnie!
Thanks for that wonderful comment!
by donnie 2005-02-05 10:57AM | 0 recs
Your ran a good campaign
I hope you and Dean can get along. It seems some of your comments recently have been blown out of proportion. Good luck.
by texasdemocrat06 2005-02-05 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Your ran a good campaign
Please see below on the "get along" comment regarding me and the Governor.  I think the blogosphere has really misread both my intentions for getting in the race and got a little bloodthirsty during the campaign, making assumptions that simply were exaggerated and were patently false at times.  It's unfortunate that folks who were on the payroll of other candidates spent their time and energy on this stuff.
by donnie 2005-02-05 10:56AM | 0 recs
a little bloodthirsty....
honestly, i think that the seeds of that behavior were planted back in a cornfield in iowa.  i don't know how much you know about the concerted "stop dean" effort, but speaking for myself, after we got taken down i realised that sometimes you have to fight hard and dirty in order to win.  i don't like doing that, but damn man, when everybody's coming at you with guns-a-blazin', you gotta do what you gotta do to win.  we wanted new leadership and a new face for the party and many of us would accept noone but dean, so we did what we had to do.  i'm sorry if you were a victim of mischaracterisations because i think you are a good guy with your heart in the right place.  but i hope you also know that you won some admirers here.  i hope you'll stick around and continue to work with us - our methods may be a bit wacky to those who didn't get rolled in that iowa cornfield, but trust me we do have the party's best interests at heart.
by annatopia 2005-02-06 08:13AM | 0 recs
Don't be a stranger Donnie!
Feel free to stop by more often and share your thoughts. We might even be able to keep blogswarm in his cage now that Dean is DNC chair. Does the new DLC/Dean detante cover you and blogswarm as well or are furthur negotiations in order?
by Gary Boatwright 2005-02-05 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't be a stranger Donnie!
Thanks for that invitation.  I'm a little confused about the "DLC/Dean detente" comment.  I'm not part of the DLC/NDN nexus.  If you have seen or heard me, this debate between moving the party left or right is, in my view, a false choice that the Democrats cannot afford.  We're a minority party ... and as such, we don't have the luxury of choosing among different voters.  The truth is, Democrats -- liberal, moderate, conservative -- agree on 80% of our core values and on 80% of key issues.  If we avoid the circular firing squad by fighting over the 20% of the agenda that differentiates us, we'll start winning more elections.

If you meant the "Donnie/Dean" detente, you should know that Governor Dean and I have had a very good personal relationship for nearly four years.  It only got stronger over the past two months.  Remember, I got in this race before the Governor, not as an anti-Dean front for some faction of the Party.  In fact, I made it very clear to the Governor several times that I would be no part of an "anti-Dean" movement.  I'm sorry that the bloggers assumed these facts too many times.  Responding to them, however, in the heat of battle would have only elicited more attacks.

I'm not going anywhere, so I accept your call to hang around.

by donnie 2005-02-05 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't be a stranger Donnie!
I wasn't clear about the DLC/Dean detente. I didn't intend to indicate you were a DLC nexus. You and Rosenberg have heartily endorsed Dean. So has Fowler and I believe Ickes. The last comment I heard from Pelosi and Reid was that Dean should follow their lead.

I hope that the power structure of the DLC is as willing to let bygones be bygones as the all of the people who have expressed their encouragement.  

by Gary Boatwright 2005-02-05 08:00PM | 0 recs
Glad that you are with us
Thank you for the post.  We will all be working hard to put the people back in democracy.
by Destiny 2005-02-05 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Glad that you are with us
I'm in it with you!
by donnie 2005-02-05 10:58AM | 0 recs
Good campaign
I saw you on C-SPAN and followed your campaign, and I hope you keep on fighting. I think you've got a bright future ahead of you.
by alxt 2005-02-05 11:09AM | 0 recs
You are a class act!
Donnie, we spoke briefly at the January SDEC meeting in Austin.  I told you then that you were my second choice after Howard Dean and you were very gracious.  Your speech following Martin Frost's was very inspiring and I think that was the reason that the SDEC did not make a formal endorsement of Frost.

Thank you for all of your hard work and I feel sure that Dr. Dean will have a place for you at the DNC.

by TexasLefty 2005-02-05 12:49PM | 0 recs
Let's take it right down their throats.

Howard Dean Remix

by Depth 2005-02-05 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Great....
i think that your mix is pretty cool.

oh yeah, and donnie, I think you have some great ideas, and we need you.

by srolle 2005-02-05 05:54PM | 0 recs
A Plea
Stay in the game, Don.   This is to address some rumor of a statement you allegedly made about "going back to the private sector" --  and also as encouragement and gratitude.

It must be tempting to head back to the private sector - I'm about your age, I'm tired of having no money.   I've picked up a small amount of direct political experience in the last few years - but you've got tons.    Please give us at least another 5 years of your work, this is a critical time.    There will be plenty of ops later on to make a decent living for yourself.   (Hint: to those who don't know - politics pays squat to 99.5% of operatives.)   Thanks for sticking it out and making it to a level of real accomplishment at a young age.  

Soon there will be people more jumping in, but with your real on the ground experience you can show the way to a lot of people new to 2004 and '06 and '08 and others who are behind their keyboards and merely sticking their toes in the water.   We've got to get people to jump in.

by Andmoreagain 2005-02-05 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: A Plea
"We've got to get people to jump in."

Come on in!  The water's fine and the shark bites only hurt a little...

by donnie 2005-02-05 06:28PM | 0 recs
"The water's fine and the shark bites only hurt a little... "

how true!

donnie, please don't abandon us for the public sector.  we need you - we need everybody to be on this team.  during your run for chair, i was consistently impressed with the fact that you came to us.  yea, you took a lot of criticism from some people, but you stuck with it and you seemed to have let the criticism roll off your back.  i appreciate your thick skin and think we could learn a lot from you.  

thank you for everything you've done for the party, and thanks again for running a positive race.  thank you also for realising - unlike many longtime party people - that we need change from the bottom up.  i hope you'll take an active role in the party, although i'm sure the temptation from the private sector is great... i hope you'll choose to put your country first.  we are engaged in a battle for the ages and we need all our soldiers to fall in line behind our new general.

again, thanks for taking the time to speak with us - i sincerely appreciate it.

by annatopia 2005-02-06 08:08AM | 0 recs
Thanks for running
I was fortunate enough to get to see you in NY a couple of times and shared what I learned.  From the start, I felt you were one of the three candidates who could take us where we needed to go, and I appreciate the chance to hear your thoughts and ideas.
by up2date 2005-02-05 01:46PM | 0 recs
Thank you for all you have done for us.
Please continue with your activism.  We need you more than ever.  
by doogs 2005-02-05 01:55PM | 0 recs
Stay involved
Stay involved.  Is it true that you have Kentucky ties?
by kydem 2005-02-05 02:06PM | 0 recs
Thanks for your contribution to
the debate and graciousness in exiting, Donnie.

I thought you ROCKED on C-Span a while back, by the way. When those right wing extremists called in, it was so refreshing to hear a Democrat standing up to them instead of sucking up to them.

Hope you stay involved in Democratic politics, and on behalf of what I believe is a relatively silent majority, my apologies for some of the cheap shots you've taken on this site and elsewhere in the blogosphere.

by daunte 2005-02-05 04:20PM | 0 recs

Thanks for the post. You're 37 with a full head of steam (and, it seems, self-confidence), you get it completely about the netroots, and you're clearly an operator, rather than a candidate.

Donnie Fowler for head of DFA?

I know that our mutual friend, Larry Sabato, has forwarded this suggestion your way, but I thought this might be a better way.

Speaking as one of the leaders of the Democracy for America coalition group in "the bluest state in the Union," Illinois, and as a now two-year veteran of DFA1 and 2, I can tell you that your experience with FIELD is what DFA needs to take it where it needs to go. We have great and enthusiastic organizers, a terrific staff in Burlington (which may or may not be up for a move to a red state like SC...), but what has been missing since, dare I say it, IOWA, has been the ability to translate netroots creativity, energy and organization into a viable on-the-ground field organization.

With fingers crossed, remembering Iowa a year ago, I'm nevertheless making the leap that it is exceptionally likely that the native of my home state, IN, will not sneak up and steal the chair from the Gov. If where we are now holds for another week, DFA is going to need an energetic leader with major national campaign experience. We have some terrific folks at HQ, but assuming most of them head to DC, or even if not, we need to turn the page. Out here in the other 49 (+DC) we have people in place, ready to serve as the adjunct to the DNC, going where they - and Howard - can't, to take back the House and Senate in '06. We are already the place for disaffected progressives to go to stay involved or to get involved (check out the Meetup attendance numbers, up big time since the election). What we need is to crystalize DFA into a primary intake mechanism and roots interface for the DNC (realizing that a whole spectrum of groups are natural partners in that role). Rather than ask the DNC to try to replicate what DFA does...we are here!

So whaddya say? It seems like the whole Dean4DNC movement got a huge jumpstart here in the blogosphere, why not Donnie4DFA? Maybe you could head to MN to back up what Tom McMahon is fighting up there with the Fargo 42. We need someone like you to help us take it to the ridiculous right, so that as a united roots movement we can walk right up and smack them in the face. The time for cowering is OVER, it is time to win, and to do that we need an exceptional field operation that is NOT simply an adjuct of Coffee Hour at the local evangelical church (which is where so much of the R field troops come from). DFA is poised but with Gov. Dean heading to the DNC we need to keep the ball rolling.

Anyway, think about it, from one Wahoo to another.

by ericd1112 2005-02-05 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Donnie4DFA?
There is no question that DFA is exactly the kind of local people know better, up from the grassroots kind of organization that can help lead the Democrats out of the wilderness.  
by donnie 2005-02-06 06:45AM | 0 recs
Thank You
Although I was not one of your supporters, you have won major points in my book for including the admittedly pro-Dean blogosphere in your gracious concession.
by ProgressiveChristian 2005-02-05 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Thank You
What they said.  
by Kimmitt 2005-02-06 01:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank You
Thanks for that warm comment.
by donnie 2005-02-06 06:46AM | 0 recs
Hope You Stay In The Game!
Hi, Donnie, thanks for posting.

I was fortunate enough to see you, and all the DNC Chair candidates, at the Sacramento Caucus on Jan 22.  I thought all of you made good points.  'DNC' should indeed stand for "Do Not Concede".

I hope that you and the other Chair candidates will find spots in the new DNC, doing what you do and love to do best for the cause.

by ItsBeenCalmingForSomeTime 2005-02-06 07:51AM | 0 recs
Good luck for the future
Your time will come, too.
by jandsm 2005-02-06 09:38AM | 0 recs


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