Senator John Kerry surprised Democrats today by aggressively lobbying for Governor Tom Vilsack to be the head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The post for which elections will be held in February, seems a shoo-in for former Governor Howard Dean. Kerry's opposition appears to be about the only thing that could keep Dean from the DNC leadership.
The reason why this is important is that the DNC for the next four years can be one of two things. It can be a general platform for reviving the Democratic Party and bringing them back to their grassroots, fundamental purposes or it can just be a re-election vehicle for one man, however good a candidate that man might be. Note that if it does the first, it can very well be an effective vehicle for electing Kerry to the presidency anyway, but if it's the second, it will only serve a very limited purpose and will be using the same-old, same-old Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Joe Leiberman-type strategies of trying to out-Republican the Republicans.
As progressives have noted over the last 20-30 years, these DLC-type tactics have had a very unimpressive record of success. Sure, Clinton won two terms, but as conservatives never tire of (correctly) pointing out, Clinton was a minority president who never would have won without Ross Perot taking votes away from Bush I and then Bob Dole. Furthermore, Clinton had no “coattails”. Congressional candidates could not win by saying they were followers of Clinton. Democrats lost Congress quite some time ago and don't appear to be able to get it back.
What Howard Dean offers the DNC is to get progressives back into the driver's seat of the Democratic Party. Kerry seems to prefer more of the same tired, old, failed DLC-type tactics that even lost seats during the 2002 mid-term elections. For an opposition party to lose seats during mid-term elections is so rare that all of those times can be counted on one hand.
Dean was clever enough to recognize the importance of language. The Republicans liked to call it “Tax Relief”, implying that taxes were at unbearably-high levels. Dean called it simply “Tax Cuts”, implying that something legitimately defensible was being reduced. Sounds simple once it's been pointed out, but many Democrats continued to attempt the losing strategy of using Republican language to oppose Republican policies.
It was apparent during the attack of the Swift Boat Veterans in August that the Democratic Party urgently, desperately, critically needs to find some way to counter what some call the Republican Noise Machine. With Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, the Washington Times, all of talk radio with the exception of Air America and a few other stations, the media arm of the Republican Party can get their stories, unchallenged or with very little challenge, into the national conversation.
Dean has promised to pump up the Democrats' communications strategy and showed his commitment to the new media capabilities by making good use of the Internet in his own campaign. One of the largest progressive Internet sites, www.DailyKos.com has been strongly pushing for Dean to get the DNC Chairmanship.
Here are the snailmail addresses of the two Philadelphia electors to the DNC that progressive, pro-Dean people can write to:
Carol Ann Campbell
236 N. 59th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19139
Hon. Ronald R. Donatucci
2336 S. 21st St.
Philadelphia, PA 19145
The Howard Dean website has a petition to sign at
The DNC has a comments section to their site:
The New Democratic Network blog has numerous ideas on how to push Democrats to a better electoral position:
Many years ago, I heard a marvelous story about Franklin Roosevelt. He was meeting with a group of progressives who had good ideas, but their ideas weren't all that popular. He listened to their pitch and said “Great idea! Now go on out there and make me do it!” We can make it a better future by making the Democratic Party adopt better positions!
Happy Thanksgiving all!