Tuesday, February 17

Don't Bother Cueing The Fat Lady - We Know

Judging by what's happening in Wisconsin, there's a shift in the exit polls. Kerry is slipping, but the beneficiary seems to be John Edwards. Sadly, Howard Dean's third-place numbers are even worse than anyone anticipated.

There's a pretty good analysis of the Dean odyssey written by Mark Engler at Alternet today - "good" of course, because it pretty much mirrors what we've been saying here for the past couple of weeks.

Dean has transformed the meaning of "electability." Historian and journalist Rick Perlstein perceptively writes in the Village Voice that "thanks to Dean, the definition has changed from the last time it was so ubiquitously heard: In the 1990s, when the word was enough to give any dyed-in-the-wool liberal a shudder, it served as a stand-in for 'politically skilled but ideologically timid.' Now, it means both 'politically skilled' and 'eager to kick George Walker Bush's ass.'"

That is why we owe Howard Dean our gratitude.
And this just-posted piece from Ted Rall:

At least they didn't shoot Howard Dean. Usually, when an American political figure speaks truth to power, he ends up conveniently dead. RFK, Malcolm X, some say Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone: all martyrs to the quaint ideal of telling it as it is as loudly as possible. Like them, Dean scared the establishment. His aggressive style roused youngsters whom aging Boomers prefer to see somnolent. His populist Internet-based fundraising freed him from the corporate donors whose influence keeps the citizens of the world's richest nation living under a Third World system of social protections. Al Gore's endorsement transformed a candidate who came out of nowhere (Vermont) into a genuine threat to the southern conservatives who have hijacked the Democratic Party since 1992. Dean was a pro-business moderate, yet he stood poised to radically transform both his party and the American political system.

Of course he had to go.

...One indignity followed another--all because, God forbid, the guy got a tad rambunctious. "Is Dean Too Angry?" headlines spread across the nation. DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, who refused to run interference for Dean when he was leading the pack, stepped into the fray to protect Kerry. "Democrats are still so angry about Al Gore's loss in 2000 and the Iraq war that they simply will not stand for intramural squabbling," the New York Times quoted McAuliffe on February 17. "I'd much rather have a unified party with money in the bank." (He was singing a different tune in December.)
Despite Dr. Dean's bravado, the party he threw is reluctantly coming to an end. All of us who poured their hearts, souls and money into this adventure are feeling a painful loss today. It was inevitable, but the little flicker of hope seems to have been snuffed where Dean had his highest hopes: Paul Wellstone country. Wisconsin.

I truly enjoyed being part of the ride. It allowed me to meet a lot of my neighbors who all were happy to see like-minded folks in their communities. At meetups, street fairs and tabling, we saw a lot of people - a LOT of people - who were extremely curious about this guy who had the audacity to challenge the Bush adminstration's "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" faux patriotism. They said the rest of the Dems were too milquetoast - too polite - too scared to speak up when Dr. Dean was well into spreading his message.

They were right. It's no secret that everyone except Joe Lieberman finally embraced what Dean was saying all along. It took Dean to prove that it was okay for our party to stand up to Bush while still maintaining and not needing to prove our deep-rooted love of America.

But I've been through this a zillion times already.

I'm going to miss the people we bonded with, though we'll almost definitely work together again soon - this time for the Dems this November. I'll also miss the people who I got to know vicariously - Dean campaign members and webslingers with such colorful names as Joe Trippi, Aziz Poonawalla and Zephyr Teachout.

I will definitely miss that phase of this election year. Nonetheless, our work is just beginning. And the best part has yet to come.

The part where on January 20, 2005, we celebrate the beginning of pride and dignity in America and the rebirth of old friendships worldwide - and the ushering out of four dark, greedy, disgusting, and bloody years of intolerance, indifference and inhumanity. The sun's rising, folks. We have to make sure we get to enjoy the warmth.

We'll be working for it here. Please join us.