Sunday, January 11, 2004

Rebuilding vs. Winning: the tough choice

Check out this diary entry by kid oakland over at the dailyKos. I think he does the best job yet of clearly laying out what is going on with the Dean vs. Clark dynamics in this race. Dean is primarily the candidate for rebuilding the party while Clark may very well be the best candidate to win in 2004. But, the problem, of course, is that neither of them alone provides the best prospects for doing both. Dean can rebuild the Democrats to a party that can demonstrate national strength again, but he may not have the winning quality necessary to put he himself over the top. Clark, on the other hand, may have that quality, but may be another Clinton-type candidate whose electoral success does not translate into long term success for his party.

I've recently been doing some deep thinking about this very topic. It comes down to two choices: (1) rebuild the party so that its long-term prospects can improve yet risk losing the Presidential election in 2004 or (2) win in 2004, but put off the desperately needed rebuilding for several more years. Now there are those who would argue that either Dean or Clark could do both, but lets remain with the question of which would be the better choice if neither of them can do just that.

It may shock some people, but I would probably have to come down on the side of rebuilding over winning. Because, as bad as another four years of Bush would be, I can't help but feel that failing to rebuild the party now might actually prolong the period of Republican domination of this country. After all, Bush is just one man. Getting rid of him would not get rid of that domination. If anything, it would just become even more deeply entrenched as they would once again feel that they had been unfairly deprived of their entitlement to lead.

But, if the Democratic party were to be rebuilt and revitalized, it might be able to challenge the long-term assumption that Republicans should be the ones in charge. Dean might be able to confront that assumption head on while a Clark would, at least to me, be just another four year delay of the inevitable confrontation.

It's a difficult choice to make, but a part of me has to believe that even another four years of Bush might be less of a disaster than another four years of ineffective Democratic leadership.


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