Give Howard Dean The DNC

The One True bIX

There of course is already a post about party leadership, but I wanted to stir the waters even more by picking up a notion mentioned by Kari Chisholm in the comments to that post, in which he suggests a change in leadership over at the Democratic National Committee, currently chaired by Terry McAuliffe.

One of Chisholm's nominees is Howard Dean, and in the comments that followed I concurred. There are two unconencted dissenting opinions regarding a change in party leadership which I want to specifically address in order to advance the case for a Dean DNC.

First, still in the comments to that other post, Jeff writes: "The leadership's not the problem, it's the grassroots. We plant the seeds of change here, and eventually the leaders have the cover to follow."

Second, over on his own site, Jack Bogdanski writes: "Howard Dean as party chair? Give me a break! At least let's have somebody like Gephardt or Edwards, who stands a chance of bringing back some of the middle-class working people."

Let me address the second dissent first, because one of Jack's picks is precisely not where the party needs to go. Dick Gephardt is part of the party's triumverate of utter failure -- along with current DNC chair McAuliffe and the just-defeated Tom Daschle. They helped generate the failure of the 2000 presidential election cycle, the disaster of the 2002 midterm election cycle, and now the 2004 presidential election cycle.

This falls squarely into Albert Einstein's definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Allowing the Daschles, Gephardts, and McAuliffes of the party to retain control is nothing short of utter and complete lunacy.

To go back, then, to Jeff's broader dissent -- the suggestion that leadership isn't the problem, and that it's up to the grassroots to formulate some sort of "trickle-up" political cover. If you at all recall the primary campaign, you might remember that (yes) Howard Dean generated quite a substantial amount of grassroots energy, involvement, and money. And what happened? The leadership which Jeff says is not the problem -- FYI, that's the Daschles, Gephardts, and McAuliffes -- practically sh*t all over him for it.

In other words, the party leadership is precisely the problem. While grasssroots ownership of the party indeed is the solution, as Jeff suggests, that solution only works if the party leadership actually wants it to, and isn't afraid of it.

So back now to the point, which is to push for the DNC to be given over to Howard Dean. What we mean by this should be apparent, but in case it isn't, I'll explain the reasoning.

The primary campaign of Howard Dean generated more energetic involvement of Democrats on the ground -- many of whom never before involved in party politics -- than most people had ever seen. Those locked into the mindset of Beltway party control likely never even thought it possible, even if they had ever considered it to be a good idea in the first place.

To give just one example, which doesn't do justice to the machine created during the Dean campaign: Remember all of those house parties being thrown by Dean supporters, and often attended by people who before those nights had never met each other? Imagine if the DNC -- functioning on the same grassroots, distributed, and networked fashion as the Dean primary campaign -- fostered such activities, whether to generate policy agenda or organize response to the policies of Bush, Incorporated, across the country for the next four years?

Still more reason to give the DNC to Dean and not someone else: During the primary, when Dean spoke of the deep crisis being imposed upon the country by Bush, his sheer sense of urgency was neither pandering nor a pose. It was authentic. It was paplable, and tapped directly and earnestly into that selfsame and just as palpable sense of urgency so many Americans were feeling -- but never seeing in any of the party's so-called leaders.

With the Daschles, Gephardts, and McAuliffes of the party, you never even reach the point of trying to determine whether their sense of urgency is merely pandering or a pose, because they have never had a sense of urgency. They wouldn't have a sense of urgency if they were five seconds away from being flattened by a bus.

Look, as I said, even setting aside whatever anyone may think of the years beforehand, since the 2000 presidential election cycle, the party leadership has done the same thing over and over again and expected different results. If we keep doing things their way -- for example, by grooming Hillary Clinton for a run in 2008 -- we are handing the GOP the next presidential election on a silver platter.

So why not make the next four years entirely different? What do we have to lose, since the Daschle/Gephardt/McAuliffe "leadership" has resulted in little more than disaster after disaster, and can be counted upon only for more of the same?

Give the DNC to someone of far less bullsh*t than the current party leadership. Organize the DNC upon the same principles as Dean's primary campaign. And at the same time make sure the Democrats are pounding home the truth all day, every day, day after day, for the next four years. We may know full well that we have that truth on our side, but the lies of the right wing are hammered into the minds of Americans all day, every day, day after day -- while the Democratic Party huddles around strategizing about how to go on television or the radio wothout looking like Communists or, worse, girly-men.

Dump that noise, and kick out of party leadership everyone who thinks we need to keep doing it. And here's where we might have an advantage: The current party leadership is going to spend the next six months, year, or year and a half gnashing their teeth and rending their garments, wondering what went wrong, strategizing about how to be more like the GOP, talking about reconciliation, making hollow noises about "change" -- and then for the 2006 midterm elections they will do everything they've did in 2000, 2002, and 2004.

Which gives the rest of us, out here in the ground, time to try to take it all away from them, if he hit the ground running.

Think the "leadership" might just come through for us somehow, after all? Think again.

Look at the DNC website right now. It's entirely given over to Kerry's message to supporters about conceding the race. Not as a "splash" page you can then skip and get into the meat of the site. Just his concession message. Nothing else. No right-off-the-bat "here's what we do now" communications or actions items. Nothing but concession.

The sorts of "leaders" who work this way -- their time in this party has to end, and end now. Give the Democratic National Committee to Dr. Howard Dean.

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    Pre-emptive defense: One of the potential criticisms of Dean likely will be the fact that his opponents and the press distorted his positions. This criticism will come in one of two way: (1) From people who actually bought those distortions, or (2) from people who didn't buy them, but will point to the fact that they got through and say we can't afford to have that happen.

    The answer to this inevitable criticism is simple: During the primary campaign, Dean did not have the party behind him, backing him up, and countering the distortions. It was, after all, a primary campaign, with every candidate for themselves.

    Were Dean to be head of the DNC, that would no longer be the case.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    Well . . .

    I’m not saying that I’m for – nor against this proposal. My question is simply how do you go about advocating for it in a way that it is received – and accepted -- by the DNC?

    I’m just thinking out loud here off the top of my head – but if there were enough people holding current offices that were in favor of this idea at the city and state levels, then perhaps appealing to those people for endorsement for your cause is one way to make it more effective.

    As we all know, Dean endorsed Tom Potter – the grassroots effort could begin in local neighborhoods that Potter wants to hear from. You may have a chance at it – at least here in Portland.

    FYI – Tom Potter (I think, regretfully) turned down a position working within Clinton’s administration – maybe his endorsement alone would go a long way.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    …and … regarding an orchestrated effort . . .

    What organizations would one appeal to in order to have a unified effort for this idea? Which ones currently exist that could be appealed to – or do they need to be formed? How do the people become involved with those organizations and how will the information be disseminated across and between their home bases?

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    Not avoiding those questions, but FYI, there is a transcript of Dean's conversations with Meetups that happened around the country on November 3. Read it all, of course, but here's the vaguely relevant bit:

    Democracy for NYC: We have 75 people here tonight! How do we take control of the DNC?
    HD: The DNC is at a crossroads. They have questions to ask themselves.
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    I'm all for this. I think that Dean's outside-the-beltway/Democratic establishment personality and his authentic, sometimes bracing speaking style would do us a lot of good. One of the things that may have done us in this year is the perception that Democrats are latte-drinking, urban-dwelling, New York Times-reading intellectuals who can't connect with regular Americans.

    (Never mind the fact that Dean, like Bush, is about as aristocratic as they come. He still looks like a longshoreman to me.)

    One thing worries me, however. If Edwards is the presumptive nominee in 2008 (a big if, I realize) he needs to find a high-profile job that keeps in him the public eye. If Edwards isn't the head of the DNC, what else can we find for him to do?

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    I'll bet the overwhelming majority of voters don't know who heads the DNC or the RNC and most of those who do are already very committed to a party.

    So I don't think it's a high-profile job suitable as a lead-in to an Edwards campaign. Nor do I think Howard Dean's reputation with voters is relevant so I wouldn't disqualify him on that basis.

    If I had to pick a person based on no factor other than "most likely to succeed in leading the party to electing a Democratic President in 2008" I'd probably pick Bill Clinton.

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    Apparently, this is already a proto-meme.

    Daily Kos:

    The McAuliffe reign has ended in disaster, with the Democratic Party in worse position electorally than when he came in as Chair in February 2001. We have lost seats in the House and Senate, and failed to cleanly take out the Worst President Ever.
    While McAuliffe was an artful fundraiser, the party continued to lack the ability to develop a clear message or properly frame the political debate. And it's been killing us.
    Even if Kerry can pull off the victory, it's clear the Democratic Party as currently constituted is on its deathbed. It needs reforms, and it needs them now. Quite frankly, the status quo simply won't cut it.
    Howard Dean for DNC Chair.
  • myrln (unverified)

    The dnc is broken. Injured or sick? Call the doctor. I agree.

  • pat hayes (unverified)

    Hi Folks...

    I'll admit to a bias towards parliamentary systems in which the loyal opposition maintains a shadow government. In the absence of that,I think the head of the DNC should be a policy wonk insider who can both strategize and manage without aspiration to office.

    My vote goes to Bill Clinton

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment

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    Heading the DNC is too small a job for Bill Clinton to be satisfied. He's in the "big picture" part of his public life, if he continues to have a public life. I imagine he'd rather be, say, head of the UN more than be head of the DNC.

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    Doretta writes, "I'll bet the overwhelming majority of voters don't know who heads the DNC or the RNC and most of those who do are already very committed to a party. So I don't think it's a high-profile job suitable as a lead-in to an Edwards campaign."

    I'll disagree. Right now, the party has no leadership. Harry Reid is on his way, but nice guy that he is, he's not exactly magnetic. Nancy Pelosi? Love her dearly, but an SF liberal is not what we want to portray us out there.

    Here's the example that proves the point: George H.W. Bush. He was RNC Chair from 1973-74. Just a few years later in 1980, he ran for President (the first chance after Ford left).

    Either Dean or Edwards is fine by me. Both would excite the base, organize the party mechanics, and raise money in buckets.

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    Corrolary: Ostracize the DLC. Here's how their official take on the aftermath begins:

    In the aftermath of the 2004 elections, Democrats should be proud of the united effort they and their candidates made. But we have to face facts: We got our clocks cleaned up and down the ballot. This is no time for finger pointing and recriminations, but it is time for some honest discussion about the outcome and its significance.

    And here's how it ends:

    There will be a powerful temptation for Democrats to simply go to the mattresses, fight Republicans tooth and nail, and hope for a big midterm sweep in 2006. That would be a mistake, just as it was a mistake to believe that Bush's weakness would be enough to produce a victory in 2004. It's time for Democrats to clearly stand for values, principles, and ideas that will earn us the opportunity to become the majority party of the future.

    Emphasis mine, because it underscores that the DLC is part of the regime of the Democratic Party which needs to change (regime change, after all, begins at home).

    First, their disdain for "fight[ing] Republicans tooth and nail" is actually their way of saying Democrats should simply try to somehow refine the methods espoused by both the DNC and DLC in the past three election cycles (2000, 2002, 2004), rather than, in some very real sense, start over.

    Second, note how the DLC tries to undercut the critics of business as usual when it comes to party leadership by insinuating that those critics simply "hope for a big midterm sweep in 2006". No one I know is sitting around "hoping" for anything such thing. The people I know are saying that we have to work our asses off to make anything even close to that happen -- but, critically, that work will only, well, work, if this DNC and DLC namby-pamby garbage is tossed overboard.

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    The DLC's brain death surfaces as well in Ed Kilgore's item (which led me to the DLC piece I mentioned above), when he says this:

    ... We do not think this is a good time for a "struggle for the soul" of the Democratic Party; the unity we achieved in this campaign is a precious asset that it would be stupid to throw away, and moreover, we are all complicit in the mistakes our party keeps making.
    Moreover, and I will say this personally, you won't get any argument from New Democrats that the Dean/MoveOn legacy of this campaign--the ability to build passionate grassroots organizations, and to raise money from small donors--should be thrown away, either. But in the end, the problem we had this year was not a shortage of money, volunteers, organization, excitement, or candidate charisma: it was a shortage of message. ...

    Taking the first paragraph first, Kilgore nicely sidesteps any examination of the nature of the Democrats' unity this year, and just how much of it likely was a combination of frustration with Bush and the belief that we might actually be able to be rid of him -- rather than, as Kilgore perhaps seems to believe, that Democrats actually specifically believed in what their party was doing in this campaign.

    He then goes on to pretend as if the Democrats ever really capitalized on what Dean and his supporters did, when they did not, and then adds a little lie about the premise that we had "candidate charisma" in the person of John Kerry.

    This is how the DNC and DLC think. They've escaped into a reality of their own making, which is precisely the sort of thing I thought we were trying to avoid by seeking Bush's removal from office.

  • the prof (unverified)

    b!x, the 2000 "failure" (how you can call it that I'm not sure since Dems won the popular vote) was not caused by the DNC, it was caused by Bill Clinton's inability to keep his zipper zipped. Were it not for the wearying scandals of the second Clinton term, Gore would have been elected. How soon we forget!

    Dean was a phenomenon, to be sure, but how does that qualify him for the DNC? in fact, the way his campaign imploded within 2 weeks indicates that he had grassroots enthusiasm and little else. Is this the guy you want doing the rebuilding of a national organization.

    Finally, why the heck would Dean even want the job? It's a thankless constant money raising position. You are a tool of the presidential candidates.

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    in fact, the way his campaign imploded within 2 weeks indicates that he had grassroots enthusiasm and little else.

    See my previous pre-emptive defense of criticisms of how Dean's campaign played out. In a primary campaign, it's every candidate for themselves. For various reasons and as a result of various factors, some the responsibilty of the candidate and some not, any given campaign can fail or succeed.

    What we're discussing here isn't a situation in which Dean would be out on his own, competing against other Democrats for attention and loyalty and resources. So the two situations are not comparable in the manner you suggest.

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    Dean? As he himself said, "Wooo-HOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

    That will win you some red states. Sure.

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    You mean the scream that the media blew into something that it actually wasn't, as evidenced by all the video that surfaced too late, showing what it was like for the crowd that was actually there?

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    In retrospect, I think Dean would have been destroyed by Bush - mostly because actual "real life" events kept the focus on Iraq.

    That said, the point of the DNC Chair isn't to win the next presidential election on his/her own. Rather, it's to build the machinery, mobilize the troops, and make a compelling argument on the Sunday shows.

    In a leaderless environment, that's even more important.

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    "Here's the example that proves the point: George H.W. Bush. He was RNC Chair from 1973-74. Just a few years later in 1980, he ran for President (the first chance after Ford left)."


    In chronological order in the 1970s HW was ambassador to the UN for a couple of years, then RNC chair for a year or two, then defacto ambassador to China for a couple more years, then head of the CIA for four years. At that point (SIX years after being head of the RNC) he ran for President and could not secure the nomination so he agreed to join the Republican ticket as VP.

    Every one of those other jobs was more high profile to the general public than head of the RNC and even with all that he did not manage to get his party's nomination to run for President.

    As an argument that being head of the DNC is the best way to keep Edwards in the public eye for a Presidential run in 2008, that example is a non-starter.

    I agree with b!X that Clinton is not likely to want the job, I just think he's the best example of someone who could succeed at it. The qualities required have little to do with whether or not the person is a DLC Democrat or a Deaniac or ....

    I want a very smart strategist and a capable fund-raiser. Clinton's the only prominent Democrat who is proven at both at that level. Dean and Edwards have had their moments, but they both had opportunities to outmaneuver the guy who just lost to Bush and they both failed.

    Don't even think about whining about who did or didn't get behind them yadda yadda yadda. It's the real world this person has to operate in not a nice level playing field. We need someone who can come into the game at quarterback down by two touchdowns with half the first string injured on the bench and the crowd booing loudly and still win the game.

    I'm far from confident that Dean or Edwards can handle that even though I find much to like about both of them. If the plan is for Edwards to be the 2008 nominee then I think he would be a bad choice. Get someone else in there that he can work with, he needs to focus on preparing to be a candidate. 2008 is only four years away.

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    I want a very smart strategist and a capable fund-raiser. Clinton's the only prominent Democrat who is proven at both at that level. Dean and Edwards have had their moments, but they both had opportunities to outmaneuver the guy who just lost to Bush and they both failed.

    As I argued before, you can't compare running a primary campaign to heading the DNC. They are very different tasks. But even if you want to compare apples and oranges, my point is that we can't think in terms of "we need a capable fund-raiser" -- at least not in the ways the term is normally used.

    Dean and his campaign staff (some of who he likely would have to convince to join him at the DNC for this whole idea to work) demonstrated a rather voraciously successful talent for grassroots fund-raising, which is precisely one of the elements of the grassroots/distributed/networked methodology that Dean would need to bring to the DNC.

    So I don't see the fund-raiser question as anything other than a non-starter, to borrow a phrase.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    One True b!X (truly) states:

    “Dean and his campaign staff (some of who he likely would have to convince to join him at the DNC for this whole idea to work) demonstrated a rather voraciously successful talent for grassroots fund-raising, which is precisely one of the elements of the grassroots/distributed/networked methodology that Dean would need to bring to the DNC.”

    Reading this brings me back to the question I posed earlier regarding what organizations and contacts are utilized to orchestrate this type of initiative.

    If we are referring to a “grass roots distribution network” – I am curious about the nodes that connect it, which nodes may be missing -- and – strategies that address how the grassroots effort may lend legitimacy towards either a proposal or endorsement process for / to the DNC (by those of you and others that agree with One True b!X)?

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    Clinton's a good choice; Dean's better.

    Clinton has been to the mountaintop, and despite the ongoing Republican smear campaign against him his entire second term, succeeded brilliantly. The canard about his zipper is just what it is - nothing "undid" Clinton but Scaife, Starr, the criminal Tripp and a Republican Congress.

    Anyway, he's unlikely to want such a pedestrian job, and even if he did, he started the DLC. They wouldn't go away anytime soon, and we desperately need them to.

    Dean's the guy, and frankly, I'd have no problem with him taking another shot at the Presidency from there.

    The rank and file of the Democratic Party is so long past being spoonfed its message from on high - talking points are for pussies. It's better if we follow the Dean model and craft the message together; that way, it's authentic and sincere.

    The problem with the Dean approach is at State and County leadership level; most of those people fought for the right to lead the rest of us around by the nose, and they won't be giving it back without a fight, either.

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    Well, my own ignoring of that question was more a delay of getting into it than forgetting it was asked, because I for one don't know the answer at the moment.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    Perhaps it’s already begun, One True One – and you are part of its beginning.

    Continue to follow your instincts – to voice your thoughts and request input and feedback. It seems to me feedback channels (or nodes that connect the “grass roots distribution network”) like Democracy for America and Blog for America are your best bet.

    I think they are the most logical starting place(s) to get feedback and serious organization efforts orchestrated and started locally with their contacts here in Portland --- if we’re talking about a serious grass roots initiative that will utilize all forms of existing organizations regarding Dean’s past and ongoing efforts – and that utilize the media from the ground up. Then call your favorite host on Air America. . . and (I’m sure I’ll be inspired to think of some more once I read another of your posts) . . .

  • allehseya (unverified)

    and(dont laugh) . . .

    . . . get some Christians with contacts involved in the endorsement. I stumbled on this link and think you may be interested in how the dots are connected (to an earlier idea regarding recruiting Tom Potter's endorsement). . .

    (inspiration delay)

  • JS (unverified)

    The Big Dog gets my vote (and the LA Times Editorial Board's):

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    To clarify my position a bit--when I was talking grassroots, I meant the liberal movement as a whole. In the short term, leadership is absolutely critical, and I don't disagree with the majority of what you've written. (My comments on the importance of grassroots are here.)

    I think Dean would be perfect, for two reasons. You've identified the first--he knows the base. He fired up true blue Dems like no one in decades (including Clinton, who's moderatism alienated vast swaths of the liberal continuum).

    But more importantly, Dean gets the most important fact about the future of the party: it's in rural America. He was eviscerated for his comment about the guy in the truck with a confederate flag on his bumper, but he was right on the mark. As a politician, he couldn't credibly deliver that message (his rural language was appropriate for rural Vermonters, but not Arkansans or Utahns). Further thoughts on the importance of rural America's place in the Democratic Party are at a post at the American Street.

    But he wouldn't be running for office--he'd be the cheerleader and guide. He's one of the view Democrats with a pure vision of where the party needs to go. You're right on the money.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    One True b!X: a disclaimer: this post assumes that you are a part of the grass-roots effort to promote your the idea posted. . .

    After sleeping on it, I was thinking that maybe you should write an article for submission to all the press as a follow up on the elections here in Portland from the blogging community.

    In the course of researching and getting quotes you could contact that Chuck Currie blogger and the like -- to get a well rounded demographic so that it doesn’t come off as a lefty radical initiative. Of course, you’ll need the necessary representative blogger or coordinator’s opinion from Blog for America and Democracy for America to lend some credibility and legitimacy. Just keep posting until one agrees with you.

    Then I’d contact Air America and get something on record from them – a bit of air time for feedback via that route – at which point you can wrap up the article and hit the presses.

    The article could act as an archive of endorsements or suggestions that could be used to take directly to Dean’s contacts with a petition.

    And that’s all I can think of for now.

  • the prof (unverified)

    Look, you want to push Dean, OK. But don't mischaracterize his candidacy. The joke I remember just before Iowa: Dean was the academics' candidate. I don't take that as a good sign by the way.

    It is not clear that Dean fired up the base, if by the base you mean: labor unions, African Americans, the working class, Catholics. The one portion of the base he clearly fired up was upper middle class knowledge workers on the coasts and in urban areas -- but do they constitute a winning electoral coalition?

    What Dean did is attract highly vocal, very enthusiastic followers, many of whom ANECDOTALLY seem to have not been involved before. ACT learned a lot from Dean.

    What Dean did is teach other candidates the potential for Internet fundraising. Kerry learned a lot from Dean.

    BUT, if you look at, there are interesting patterns to Dean's fundraising. He raised virtually no money from labor unions. He raised virtually no money from African American.

    In terms of donor demographics (income, percent $200 and less, gender mix), the candidate that Dean looks most like is Dennis Kucinich.

    And I just can't agree that Dean's implosion after Iowa doesn't mean anything because he didn't have the party behind him. No one did. What we can read into Iowa is that Dean tapped into a motherlode of financing, primarily because he was the only candidate who was openly anti-war, but that he was unable to translate that into a coherent post-Iowa message or use the money to build a strong organization.

    So he may not be able to think on his feet and he may not know how to build an organization. Personally, I don't find those particularly good qualities in a party chair.

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    BUT, if you look at, there are interesting patterns to Dean's fundraising. He raised virtually no money from labor unions. He raised virtually no money from African American.

    In a primary campaign, competing against other candidates, each of whom was receiving the attention of different blocs of Democratic voters. That's to be expected.

    Once again, I have to remind people that you can't directly compare the specifics of who followed Dean during his primary campaign with what his task would be as chair of the DNC. The primary was a competition amongst several candidates for the support from Democratic voting blocs and funding blocs. Heading the DNC simply is not the same thing.

    Any candidate from the primary, during the primary, was resonating only to certain blocs and not to others. That's how primaries work. To take one of the other suggestions, you could look at Edwards' primary campaign and also be able to say that his primary campaign shows he didn't appeal to bloc X or bloc Y. But it wouldn't be proof of anything else, because being a primary candidate and chairing the DNC are two different things.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    The Prof states:

    "What Dean did is attract highly vocal, very enthusiastic followers, many of whom ANECDOTALLY seem to have not been involved before. ACT learned a lot from Dean."

    What Dean did, in my opinion, was remarkable at the time for his extensive use of the internet to reach out, educate and involve supporters. Dean’s campaign utilized blogging as a grassroots media approach that acvtively engaged citizens in addressing and speaking to public policy. By soliciting small donations from individuals, the campaign shattered previous fundraising records for the Democratic presidential primary. Tom Potter followed similar principles and models that Dean utilized – and won.

    While I’m not fully onboard with pushing Dean in this proposed role – I do credit him with being the first national candidate to play to the strengths of the Internet, in particular by engaging the American public directly in the political process. Governor Ted Kulongowski, in part following this model, has posted the state budget on the internet for citizen review and involvement. Howard Lavine, the Arts and Culture Policy Advisor in the Governor office hopes to address public input when addressing the December budget. This is the kind of innovative approach to rebuilding an infrastructure that the DNC should be implementing and it was Dean that was the first to see its potential.

    I think a lot of people learned from Dean and could continue to do so -- many people here in Portland look to Vermont as a model as well.

  • Jeff Alworth (unverified)

    Prof, I have to say I don't find your argument convincing. Dean generated enormous interest in unions--he shocked Gephardt by scoring a number of early endorsements. Among them were not just SEIU (though they represent perhaps the future of unionized workers), but farm workers, UAW, teachers unions and more.

    Conflating Dean the candidate with Dean the machine (sorry) is a big mistake. This is a guy from rural New England no one had ever heard of. That he didn't have broad support reflects the nascency of his campaign.

    It's interesting to me that mainstream Dems (particularly jaded middle-aged ones) deny Dean's appeal based solely on a calculus for winning that has produced one--one winning candidate in the past 24 years (Clinton). Is it possible that Clinton is not the rule but rather the exception, and it was his charisma, not his message, that carried the day? (This is a critique of DLCers, not you.)

    Look, if the first state hadn't been Iowa but Oregon, we wouldn't be talking about his "collapse." The primaries were weird this year, because Dems were prepared to take the first guy who looked Rove-proof and run with him. Dean may not have beaten Bush (I now question if anyone could have), but it strains credulity to say that he couldn't have formed a massive machine.

    What we need now is that massive machine, and we need it behind candidates who can win. The Democratic party, playing by the old rules of DLC don't-offend-Iowa moderatism has gotten us this: a diminishing minority in the House and Senate, no viable national candidates, and has lost us the Supreme Court for a generation. Can those who support that approach please consider that it may suck?

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    Coming to you once the DNS propagates (the domain was only just registered a few hours ago): the Give Dr. Dean The DNC petition campaign.

  • allehseya (unverified)


    Well done.

    I'm impressed beyond words by the sheer level of conviction you possess and how you back it up in ACTION as opposed to well-intentioned rhetoric.

    I always respect the person on a true path -- even more so the person that "walks the talk".

    Beyond words . . .

  • the prof (unverified)

    Jeff You pick your dates well. You do Republicans proud! (Joke! Joke!)

    You could have gone back four more years and said 2 candidates in 28 years. Or three elections out of nine.

    Regardless, the "strategy" as you describe it was not followed in 1984 (Mondale), was in 1988, 1992, 1996. Not sure how we'd characterize 2000 or 2004. Was Kerry the "DLC" candidate or was Clarke? To take your thought experiment further: perhaps the DLC position saved us from losing even more ground than we've already lost?

    On unions and Dean, I think you make my point for me. The unions were desperate to find a winner; that's why they endorsed Dean rather than Gephardt. They bailed on him just as quickly once his campaign went south.

    b!x, I agree with all you've said but this: you've never laid out what the job of running the DNC is. You've just asserted that we can't infer anything from his primary struggles--and I still disagree with that claim.

    I don't believe that the grassroots excitement generated by Dean's candidate for the presidency will translate into Dean as party chair. As you are fond of pointing out, they are two fundamentally different animals. The Dean campaign has taught politicians of both parties an awful lot. I don't see that as unique to Dean, however (Kerry's, Move-On's, and ACT's fundraising and mobilization efforts all showed that.)

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    b!x, I agree with all you've said but this: you've never laid out what the job of running the DNC is. You've just asserted that we can't infer anything from his primary struggles--and I still disagree with that claim.

    Actually, I did lay that out, somewhere. Not that I can find it now. But it's fairly straightforward: The DNC chair manages, expands, and if necessary helps rally the party membership. Here's what the DNC itself says about what it does:

    The Democratic National Committee plans the Party's quadrennial presidential nominating convention; promotes the election of Party candidates with both technical and financial support; and works with national, state, and local party organizations, elected officials, candidates, and constituencies to respond to the needs and views of the Democratic electorate and the nation.

    I don't believe that the grassroots excitement generated by Dean's candidate for the presidency will translate into Dean as party chair. As you are fond of pointing out, they are two fundamentally different animals.

    In part, my response to this is something I wrote earlier today. It's a just slightly too long to bother recounting in full here.

  • All Blue (unverified)

    Dean would make a great leader for blue America -- that is, the states that easily went Democratic this time. Which isn't to say he isn't needed -- we need to keep motivating the base in states like Oregon and California and the Northeast. That said, the future of the Democratic Party is as a 50-state party. We need to look at states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona; we need to build from the vast patches of blue counties across the deep south (did you see the map in the Oregonian? or on There's a lot of democrats not being heard). Dean had his heart in the right place when he said the party needs to reach out to guys with Confederate flags, because their children don't have health care either. But he did it precisely the wrong way. We don't need to march someone seen as extreme (so he isn't extreme. So? Why alienate people?) out into communities to tell them how they should be like us. We need to look to blue people in red states, or blue people in bluing states -- look to Ken Salazar, look to Bill Richardson, Janet Napolitano, even Evan Bayh. Look at Texan Jim Hightower for some ideas. We're not getting a majority without taking our lead from the people, and the causes they have grown up in. We're not disrespecting western Oregon or Vermont by saying they're very different from the rest of the country. We can build a coalition on values without having to give up our ideals.

  • David Blumenstein (unverified)

    I started up a thread on - The DNC - Terry's Time Has Come, and it is getting a fair bit of play. I engaged in correspondence with Dean organizations around the country to prompt discussion and get people thinking of the future.

    There is also an online petition which is collecting signatures to be sent to the DNC Convention to put Dean's name forth for the leadership.

    The Midterm elections are crucial, perhaps even moreso than 2008. Without the proper organization and leadership, it is possible that the Republicans could very well win the requisite number of seats to turn a "mandate" (sic) into a "stranglehold"

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    There's now an AP story... Here's a key quote that opens with former DNC chair, and Dean campaign chair Steve Grossman:

    "I strongly urged (Dean) to seek the position," [Grossman] said. "Howard is a voice of political empowerment and that to me is important, for the Democrats to get their sea legs back as quickly as possible, to get beyond the disappointment of the last week and to believe there is a bright future ahead for the Democratic Party." ... Grossman said that if Dean were to run for DNC chair, he would need to pledge that he would serve the full four-year term, thus ruling out a presidential bid in 2008.

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