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.