Monday, June 07, 2004

Inspiration

There's a good article in today's WSJ on the evolving Dean movement.

Dean himself makes the point that the primary campaign happened so fast and was so furious that he had little time to actually sit down and contemplate just what was going on. Now that he has had time to do so he better understands how he can use his opportunity and his skills to build a longer-term Democratic coalition.

The article compares him to Newt Gingrich in this respect and I don't think Dean would mind the comparison, at least on the level of political activation:

Mr. Dean's famous e-mail list took a substantial hit after his withdrawal from the presidential race in February, but it's beginning to grow again. Every two weeks, in sets of 12, he is making "Dean Dozen" endorsements to boost lower ticket, often state and local candidates, much as the Christian Coalition did in building its network in the late '80s and early '90s. Like Mr. Gingrich's conservative "Contract for America" in 1994, there have been early discussions of a Progressive Manifesto -- laying out goals such as health-care reform -- that would give new voters a clearer idea of the Democratic mission.

I'm not sure we are at the correct point in the cycle to be talking about manifestos. But the organizational efforts of DfA do remind me a lot of what happened in the 80s and 90s on the right. I fully expect a significant number of Democrats running for office in the next 20 years to cite the Dean campaign as their political birthplace.

There are many things about Dean hat has always inspired me, among those is the message he brings that you have to work towards long-term change and not just struggle for short-term gain. This is a message that is especially inspirational for younger voters who have been trained by our culture to think only in terms of instant gratification.

"Governing in the real world means you can make things better, dropping out means hope is dead," Mr. Dean wrote.

Dean has the gift for distilling the message down to the heart and putting it in terms that most everyone can understand (even if they don't necessarily agree with the specifics).

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