Saturday, February 12, 2005

From the rooftops, shout it out

Howard Dean is ready to go as the new Democratic National Committee chairman. The former Vermont governor, the only contender after six other hopefuls dropped out in the last few weeks, won the job today on a voice vote.

Some moderate Democrats are undoubtedly troubled that their party leader is a guy who said he comes from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," and Republicans have been quick to paint Dean as an out-of-touch New England liberal who'd rather scream incoherently than reach out to Midwestern and Southern voters. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a Republican pundit with nothing but the Democrats' best interests in mind, said of Dean last month that "if [Democrats] have a death wish, he'd be the perfect guy to go with."

What's been lost in all of the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing over how Republicans and moderates will react to Dean's DNC chairmanship is this: It doesn't really matter. Republicans will criticize anyone who runs the Democratic Party as too liberal; it's their political strategy. Furthermore, how many moderates deeply care who's in charge of a party's apparatus? How many voters went for President Bush because Ed Gillespie headed the Republican National Committee? How many votes did U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., get because Terry McAuliffe ran the DNC?

Dean is an intelligent guy who probably will excite the Democrats' base and restore some much-needed passion to a party that has seemed comatose since the twilight of the Clinton administration. Say what you will about Dean's reputation as a wild-eyed liberal -- his record as Vermont governor indicates that it's undeserved -- but he isn't afraid to say what he believes.

Dean likely will articulate the kind of clear-cut positions that Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore, masters of nuance, simply could not during the last two presidential campaigns. In this era of politics driven by short attention spans and television sound bites, the ability to get right to the point and stay there is vital.

The Democratic Party under Dean, if it hopes to succeed, must be more than the loyal opposition; it must offer legitimate, long-term alternatives to Republican policies. Dean showed signs today that he gets the message: "We cannot win if all we are is against the current president and his administration."

Democrats have seemed rudderless for the last four years. Dean may be just the guy to give them direction again.

3 Comments:

Blogger Susan of LocalTint said...

"Dean may be just the guy to give them direction again." To say nothing of vertebrae.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Thank god. I was ready to leave the party if they put up another DLCer. Let's hope they don't try and sabotage him so that they can continue to run as RNC lite and rack in all those business contributions.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Nick Beadle said...

But remember that me and all your mothers accomplished this.

That's right, me and your mom worked on Howard Dean's chairmanship campaign. It was hot.

Your mother was all about the "YEAAARGH!"

A little too much, but I went with it.

Because that's how I roll.

12:33 AM  

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