Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Keeping It Real Politik: Dean’s in the DNC Race

Howard Dean has officially entered the race to become the next Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Here are a few excerpts from his announcement:

We need a party focused on more than the next election. We need to build an infrastructure now that will remain in place not only in 2008, but in 2005, 2006, 2007 and beyond. There is only one way to do this: together, we must build from the ground up.

The states are a central piece of that strategy. The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state. We must give our state parties the tools and resources they need in order to be successful. We must be willing to contest every race at every level. We can only win when we show up.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by encouraging small donations, by taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, alone it cannot win us elections. Offering a new choice means making 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. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its 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.

That word – 'values' – has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.

There are many – including centrist Democrats and gleeful conservatives – who think Dean will only put the Democratic Party in a deeper hole than it’s already in. Other candidates, such as former Texas Rep. Martin Frost (a victim of Texas redistricting) and Democratic activist Simon Rosenberg, will present a more moderate face for the future, Dean critics say. Some are even lobbying to keep in place the current Chair, Terry McAuliffe, whose term is set to expire.

The reality is that many of the reasons for not wanting Dean are embedded in a defeatist mindset of Play It Safe and Do No Harm. The reality is that these strategies have resulted in three straight election losses and a current minority status for the Democrats across the branches of government.

The truth is that change and new leadership are needed because the Democrats can’t do much worse. That’s not to take anything away from John Kerry, who ran a flawed but decent campaign and came up short. Howard Dean will bring excitement and an articulate vision for a party without direction. He will use his considerable energy to bring about a party that stands for reform, which is the right direction to head in. He will take back the word “values” for all Americans and he will pave the way for election successes in 2006 and beyond.

Dean as DNC will also preclude his running for President again in 2008. This is good news for Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards, and the many others who will likely look at an ’08 run. In fact, even John Kerry has been getting friendlier with Dean as he eyes a possible second run at the presidency.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is vetting the leading candidates to be the next Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman, and asking them to remain neutral in the presidential selection process in 2008. It is the latest indication that Kerry is putting down markers to run again for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

2 comments:

reporterette said...

Bingo! on this:

"The reality is that many of the reasons for not wanting Dean are embedded in a defeatist mindset of Play It Safe and Do No Harm. The reality is that these strategies have resulted in three straight election losses and a current minority status for the Democrats across the branches of government."

Both parties have been guilty of this self-destructive mindset. Most recently, the DNC with choosing Kerry over Dean. In the race against Clinton's 2nd term, the RNC made a mistake with "annointing" Bob Dole. The Dems did the same in '00 when they annointed Gore.

Not that as a conservative, I should be giving the Dems any ideas, but here are a few strong crosssover types I think the party's ignoring:

State-level: Gov. Bredesen, Rep. Harold Ford (a bit of a longshot)
National: Sen. Biden
Misc/media types: Susan Estrich, Tammy Bruce

If they could clone JFK and bring him back in '08, that'd be a good fight.

Just my $0.02

Eric Berlin said...

I agree that Harold Ford has all of the skills to be a star in the Democratic Party. He's black, young, articulate, and from a border state that is trending Republican. Ford and Barack Obama are bright stars in a (currently) bleak state of affairs, for the Democratic Party, for African Americans, and for the country.

I see Biden more as a strong potential Secretary of State than as a presidential candidate. Perhaps a seasoned VP candidate with security credentials for a John Edwards or HRC in '08? That could be realistic.