Who Really Killed Howard Dean?

The press did according to William Greider of The Nation, and they're damn proud of their work.

He starts this piece by writing In forty years of observing presidential contests, I cannot remember another major candidate brutalized so intensely by the media, with the possible exception of George Wallace. For a little perspective if you're younger than I am, remember that Wallace was famous for his "segregation now, segregation forever" speech. Not auspicious company for the good doctor as far as press coverage is concerned.

But there's no way to do this piece justice without quoting a huge section, so what the hell.

The party establishment, limp as it is, was correct to target Dean with tribal vengeance. From their narrow perspective, he represented a political Antichrist. The unvarnished way he talked. The glint of unfamiliar, breakthrough ideas in his speeches. His lack of customary deference to party elders (and to the media's own cockeyed definition of reality). What the insiders loathed are the same qualities many of us found exhilarating. I already feel nostalgia for his distinctive one-liners:

"Too many of our leaders have made a devil's bargain with corporate and wealthy interests, saying 'I'll keep you in power if you keep me in power.'"

"As long as half the world's population subsists on less than two dollars a day, the US will not be secure.... A world populated by 'hostile have-nots' is not one in which US leadership can be sustained without coercion."

"Over the last thirty years, we have allowed multinational corporations and other special interests to use our nation's government to undermine our nation's promise."

"There is something about human beings that corporations can't deal with and that's our soul, our spirituality, who we are. We need to find a way in this country to understand--and to help each other understand--that there is a tremendous price to be paid for the supposed efficiency of big corporations. The price is losing the sense of who we are as human beings."

"In our nation, the people are sovereign, not the government. It is the people, not the media or the financial system or mega-corporations or the two political parties, who have the power to create change."


Do you not remember those remarks? Dean's best lines--evocative suggestions rather than explicit policy pronouncements--were not widely reported.
I was a Dean supporter for over a year and I don't remember those quotes explicitly. Imagine you're a person who's only looking at the candidates with a cursory eye in the time you have between your nine-to-five and Survivor : Disneyland and you're depending on a combination of Rather, Brokaw, or God forbid, Begala and Carville for information on the candidates. Dean lands somewhere between the Energizer bunny and Lyndon Larouche on that comparative scale. Hell, it's amazing that he got a single delegate.

But the good news is that Greider thinks that something good can come out of this (as do I, but Greider has far more of a voice than I do).
He (Dean) confirmed the existence of an energetic, informed dissent within the husk of the Democratic Party....one campaign veteran told me 70 percent of the citizens on Dean's much-admired computer list are over 30--a broader base than the stereotype. On the other hand, 25 percent of the money contributed came from people under 30--impressive too....
This momentous knowledge is liberating--if people figure out how to use it in other places. I can imagine, for instance, insurgent challenges launched by young unknowns against Congressional incumbents, especially in Democratic primaries. Most of these incumbents haven't faced serious opposition in years. At a minimum, it would scare the crap out of them--always healthy for politicians. In my Washington experience, nothing alters voting behavior in Congress like seeing a few of their colleagues taken down by surprise--defeated by an outsider whose ideas they did not take seriously.

Greider is spot on right here. We will have accomplished nothing if we don't scare the shit out of the establishment Democrats on Capitol Hill. The Blog for America and Joe Trippi's new blog Change for America are good places to start. If you're a Dean supporter, keep going to the sites, keep giving money, keep expressing your opinion on what we need to do to change this country.

And most importantly, get involved with local politics and let the people you come in contact with know that you're involved because of Howard Dean. Let's kick some ass, folks.

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