February 18, 2005

A Lean, Mean Dean

Regardless of the inevitable tired, lame, overworked, and frankly, pathetic attempts by the lock-step right to cast him as a wild-eyed bomb throwing radical lib, (which he most certainly isn't) Howard Dean is now at the reigns of the Democratic National Committee.

The Dope feels that this is one of the few positive developments regarding post 2004 Democratic politics. I had little hopes for his chances to attain this post, and was very happily surprised when it appeared he had it locked up.

Here are Dean's bullet points for what he feels should be the priorities for the future of the party currently not in power.

  • Show up! Never concede a single state, county, district or even a single voter to the Republicans. We must be active and compete in all 50 states and work with the state parties to build a truly national party.

  • Recruit, train, and encourage candidates to run for office at every level -- building tomorrow's farm team from the ground up. This was the founding principle behind Democracy for America.

  • Actively grow local Democratic committees in local communities. Local neighborhood advocates are our best spokespeople -- helping them reach out in their own communities will better articulate our message and enable the grassroots to support state and local candidates.

  • Better integrate national and state party operations. Specifically, that means: providing the state party the means to pay for its executive director in every state; building and sharing lists between the national and state parties; and creating an ongoing active presence -- a permanent campaign in every state that does not have to be recreated for only four months every four years.

  • Develop and articulate core Democratic principles that we all can agree on, that will let people know what our party stands for. We will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing our rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we mean -- and mean real change when we say it.

  • Make Democrats the party of reform -- reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy.

  • Utilize cutting edge Internet technology, not only to fundraise, but also as an effective organizing tool to recruit more supporters, communicate with them, and empower them to lead in their local communities.

  • Strengthen the party institutions and leadership institutes so that they rival the Republican machine that currently exists. These institutions must work together in a coordinated way to recruit new talent, develop leaders, articulate our values and elect Democrats at every level.

These are all excellent and crucial goals with promise for local implications. The Dems simply MUST move towards accomplishing each of them in order to prevail in the future.

But perhaps Dean's election is more important in another respect, namely, that it gives hope that at long last, there is someone in the lead who is both moderate and a fighter. The days of trying to co-opt the right as a way to victory is over. That tactic was a dead end anyway, as it would ultimately result in the Dems becoming de facto Republicans.

Dean's ascension is a welcome shot in the arm to a party that seemed incapable of, or too frightened to fight back to defend their core princicples.

There were many top Dems that were so timid they were afraid of Dean becoming DNC chair and actively fought against him. These are the people that need to change or be purged. "Safety first" can no longer be the Democratic motto.

The whacko right will undoubtedly try to cast Dean as reckless or far out on the fringe. Let 'em. Capitulating and conforming to the Right has been an unmitigated disaster so far. Dean is a moderate, and he's not afraid of a fight. It's high time the party comes to it's senses and realizes that unless they shed their pink tutus and fight back hard, they'll be marginalized out of of existence.


At 2/18/2005 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who supported John Kerry for President in '04, I am glad Howard Dean is the DNC Chairman. But I do not agree with "Inside Dope" that Dean and all Dems have to shift to the left to win. It's not left or right, it's stand up and talk about how your values guide your politics. It's stand up and articulate a clear message about who we are and what we can do. It's about having a values-based message. I mean, I'm a Little League baseball coach who comes from a blue state and I'm tired of getting hammered as someone who doesn't have values in my life. I think Howard Dean will provide our party a clear message, and I like the fact he says he's going to live in the red states for a couple years. We can't write off two-thirds of the country every four years.

At 2/18/2005 1:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

The poster above says that the Dems shouldn't shift to the left, but fails to take into account that they've already shifted way to the right in the past 20 years. They can take a radical shift left and still not be back to the traditional liberal values Democratic party that reflects the beliefs and values of a majority of Americans.
He says it's not about left or right, but is afraid of supposedly shifting left. While standing up and articulating values is essential, that in itself would be a move to the left, compared to the simpering acceptence of the fundamental rightward shift in elective power. This is not to be confused with where the country REALLY is. I believe strongly that the Repub stranglehold on power is artificial and due to superior message management and other factors. But it's a mile wide and half an inch deep.
There's opportunity here, but people can't be timid and shy away from being called "liberal".
We don't need a party of Joe Leibermans and Zell Millers. (UGH!)

At 2/18/2005 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Porter McNeil says ...

I appreciate "Inside Dope's" passion for Howard Dean, and as a Kerry backer in 2004 we came to respect Dean's passion for the party and for the good fight.
And I certainly wish him well as DNC Chairman, and think his crisp message will help the party communicate better.

But which Democrat has won two terms in office in the past 50 years? One. Bill Clinton. He put a message together that was rooted in traditional Democratic Party values such as opportunity for all, responsibility from all, fairness, freedom, etc. He showed the nation the Democratic Party can take a lead on issues like putting more cops on the street, job creation, reforming the flaws in our welfare system, balancing the budget. He stood up strongly for civil rights, equal rights for women, protecting the environment and more.

He had a values-based message that resonated with all Americans, and it is in that direction I think we need to move.

If Democrats are ever going to regain the lead in the red states and solidify the lead in the blue and purple states, the party must reach out. We can't wake up every four years and face a shrinking number of states we call blue.

At 2/19/2005 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 1000% with the previous comments. The centrist Democrats figured out a way to give us two-term Bill Clinton and Al Gore. When the majority of Americans identify themselves as independents, Democrats had better fight for their votes. Swinging to the left is a recipe for disaster.

At 2/20/2005 12:32 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

The Dope asks how the Dems got their asses handed to them in the last few cycles by running away from their traditional "left" values? Dems have tried to suck up to the truly wrong right wing positions with absolutely disasterous effects. The definition of insanity is doing something with negative consequences and then continueing to do the same thing expecting different results.
The Dope is perplexed as to how anyone could be committed to a policy that has resulted in near total defeat.

At 2/20/2005 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah ha, there is the problem. Inside Dope thinks the Dems have been running to the right. Dems ran a liberal NE Senator From Massachucetts last time. Progressives in Congress carry the day for the Democrats. There are no polls that show the majority of voting Americans think Democrats are too conservative!

At 2/20/2005 3:11 PM, Anonymous Blue State said...

Yes, the previous anonymous has it right. The Democratic Party just has to talk about the values that put its party out front -- the blue staters coach Little League, that blue staters believe in a strong national security, that blue staters want more cops on the street and want the deficit shrunk and want to boost adoption and cut unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, that blue staters don't want to outlaw a gun owner's right to bear arms.

If the Democrats do that, while pushing opportunity and fairness for all, we can win again.

At 2/20/2005 4:21 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Kerry was not exactly a flaming liberal. To believe so is to accept the mass disinformation campaign waged against him by the right.
They tried to paint him as such, and apparently, even some Dems have swallowed it.
And I might remind you, Kerry got the second highest amount of votes in US history. It could be argued that without some of the chicanery in Ohio and elsewhere, the race may have been so close the difference would be negligable.

The Dope stands by the postition that to abandon traditional Dem values and cow-tow to the radical right and their Mighty Wurlitzer media campaign is death for the Democrats, and disaster for the country.
When someone beats the crap out of you because they're perceived as resolute, being a plain speaker, and sticking to their values no matter what the one thing you don't do is decide to get MORE squishy!!! You don't respond to being portrayed as wishy-washy and weak by being wishy-washy and weak and trying to adopt the opponents stances.
It's absolute folly, and shows a total lack of spine. It's nothing more than Dems not giving a rat's ass about their traditional core values, values which a clear majority of Americans agree with, and more about whether they can get elected again. The righties ran and lost again and again until they got people to come to their side (by some ugly means, granted)
Giving up on liberal values to play to the fickle winds of the electorate is unprincipled as well as an ultimately losing proposition.
I could write a few pages about this issue, and perhaps I will sometime and post a link to it here.
It took the right 30 years to get to this point, the Dems won't be winning anytime soon by simply bending to what they think the public wants on any particular day.
It's beneath contempt what some Dems have done. It is they that bear responsibility in a large part for the government we have today and the fact that they act with impunity and arrogance, because they know NO ONE will stand up to them. Either this changes or get used to being a Republican in Dem clothing.
(and no, I'm not talking about the "Free Abner Louima", "Free Palestine" sort of liberalism... just good, solid pro-labor, pro-worker, pro social, pro economic opportunity and growth of the middle class, etc. liberalism.)

At 2/20/2005 5:08 PM, Anonymous Blue State said...

"Inside Dope" has made my point exactly. The formula for winning is to stand up for traditional Democratic Party values like opportunity for all, education for all, prosperity for all, civil rights for all, etc. We have to speak with clarity and purpose, and we have to do that in the red states and the purple and blue states.

Democrats have to convince America they can govern, can keep America safe, can shrink the deficit, can stand for traditional values.

We do, and we did during Clinton's presidency when we created 22 million jobs, produced a surplus, puts more cops on the beat, etc.

This is not a question of sounding more liberal or less liberal, but more American, more values-based, more proud of our heritage.

And we absolutely cannot move forward by flying on our left wing. We do that, we will be a minority party for another 50 years. We need to reach out to red states, like Howard Dean has promised, and we need to include "pro life Dems" like Tim Roemer of Indiana, and we need to include pr0-gun Democrats from the South. We can do all that and still stand up strongly for our values. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can do this.

At 2/20/2005 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on, Blue State! You sound like you know how to win campaigns and elections. I hope you're involved in them for the Dems.

At 2/20/2005 11:01 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...


At 2/21/2005 2:20 PM, Anonymous Blue State said...

Am I to infer that the "Inside Dope" doesn't want to win back the White House?

Bill Clinton showed us how -- by talking about values and by talking to suburban America, rural American and urban America. In 2004, we lost 97 of the 100 fastest growing counties. Unfortunately, Kerry was viewed as too far to the left on many issues.
We need to win in Red State America. Otherwise, we'll be blogging in our blue beer for decades.


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