Doctor Dean for the DNC

It is necessary to concede that the Democratic Party is in a state of disarray. John Kerry, a war veteran who won every presidential debate, lost to one of the most vulnerable incumbents in history. Why? He lost because he was unable articulate his beliefs outside the parameters defined by his opponents. As a minority within The House, The Senate, and The Supreme Court, Democrats will look to their top demagogue, the Chairman of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) to preachify their message on a national scale. Above all, they need a progressive who can command major media attention and revamp the liberal message by clearly defining what it means to be a Democrat in the 21st century. The selection of Howard Dean as a Chairman of the DNC promises to inspire new energy into the 213-year-old Democratic Party.

The most promising facet of Howard Dean’s Chairmanship is that the National Democratic Party may learn to reflect his genuine political enthusiasm and bold stances in policy. He was correct about the war in Iraq, even though he was ridiculed by over-patriotic media outlets of post-septemeber 11th America. He was correct that the Democratic part must extend beyond liberal elitists in the Northeast to “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks”, even though he was brutally criticized for the sentiment. Finally, most importantly perhaps, Howard Dean was correct that voters care more about convictional assertiveness than political cogency. Dean, like George Bush, understands that you can only win a presidential election if voters know exactly what you stand for. In fact, before cleverly stolen by Mr. Bush, it was Dean who said: you may not believe in what I say, but at least you know where I stand.

Howard Dean, prior to the 2004 primaries, established an unprecedented fundraising infrastructure based around internet weblogs, meetups, and streaming video which allowed the electorate to more directly contribute to the campaign. To win in the years to come, Democrats need to continue to bolster the power of this pluralist system while continuing to become less and less allegiant to ­big money donors. Dean is a true-bread populist that believes in the power of the individual. Not the type of populism espoused by the Bush administration: speaking unintelligently while cutting taxes for the very richest, but the real deal. Dean allows supporters to influence the campaign at an unprecedented rate, an idea that Republicans quietly fear.

The political and media elites within Washington a­­­re quick to characterized Dr. Dean as an uncontrollable liberal. Washington insiders make dubious assumptions about the average voter, claiming that Dean is an anathema for democrats hoping to win over “red” states like Kansas; a state where Kerry won only one county in the 2004 presidential bid. This claim contradicts the fact that the some of the first Deaniac endorsements came from party leaders in Alabama, Mississippi, and, yes, Kansas. The Florida Democratic Chairman’s statements gave proof to how out of touch Washington pundits are: "I'm a gun-owning pickup-truck driver and I have a bulldog named Lockjaw," said Scott Maddox. "I am a Southern chairman of a Southern state, and I am perfectly comfortable with Howard Dean as DNC chair."

After “the scream heard around the world” early during the primaries last year, Howard Dean’s flaws as a presidential candidate became obvious. But, as former DNC chair David Wilhelm assures worried congressional democrats, “What seemed wild in a presidential candidate will seem much more normal in a chair of a national party.” Dean’s over-zealousness and over-ambition will likely translate from flaws as a presidential candidate to virtues for the Democratic Party. As Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson sums up, he will “bring new spirit and new energy to the party, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time”.

The unanimous election of Howard Dean as DNC chair indicates two things. First, there are democrats out there who are not afraid to vote for strong, charismatic candidate that is willing to push for change. Secondly, it indicated an auspicious new reconstruction of democratic ideology. “We need to be proud to Democrats” Dean tells supports. Pride it seems, is exactly what Dean can deliver.



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