Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm in love with Howard Dean. Again.

Howard Dean is doing a bang-up job as the head of the DNC. He's really found his place. He's a first-class organizer who knows when to use authority and when to cede it. I think we'll get our first really solid proof of Dean's efficacy after the midterms, and I believe he'll do well by us.

It's no wonder that Dean got the job not by a noisy faction agitating to install him in the post but rather by Democratic organizers from all over the country. I remember reading in the New Republic earlier this year that Dean had promised to give more control to local Democratic organizations rather than Terry McAuliffe's top-down management style. It's like the Democrats were gasping for air, and Dean threw open the vents for them. Dr. Dean has made the airy prediction that the Democrats will take back both the House and the Senate in 2006. That's unlikely, but it's his job to talk like that. And he might even be right. If Bush's slump continues the way it has been, that could very well happen. But Election Day is still 341 days off, and a lot can happen in that much time. It's best not to count any chickens yet, but the Democrats' immediate future looks better than the Republicans', suffice it to say.

When Will Rogers made his famous quip the he doesn't belong "to any organized political party--I'm a Democrat," he struck on a truth about the nature of the Democratic Party. Democrats do better when they acknowledge that there are some things that are best left up to local control, particularly when it comes to organizing. There are times when this didn't work out so well, like back during the civil rights struggle, but they cleaned house eventually, setting standards and abandoning the racists to seek shelter under the Republicans' big tent. The fact remains that the Democrats' tent is bigger, much more inclusive, than the Republicans' has ever been. Anyway, when you see tents and elephants together, you're probably at a circus. The Republicans have no shortage of clowns, either.

The Republicans have a formidable adversary in Howard Dean, and if they don't know it yet, they'll figure it out soon enough. Dean may or may not run for president one day—I bet he doesn't—but I'll go out on a limb that Dean can make a greater contribution to the Democratic Party than any Democrat who sits in the White House could make in the near future. I'll go further and say that if there is a Democrat ordering new drapes for the Oval Office three Christmases from now, credit will go in no small part to Howard Dean. Some of it will also go to us, too, because as the Doctor knows, his giving more control to all the local Democratic organizations will only help if we get involved and stay involved. So let's keep up the good work.

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