"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 I have been a Dean supporter for quite some time. I have been disappointed in the last week and a half that he has turned negative on his opponents -- and I think that backfired on him big time last time in Iowa. The biggest problem he has is the same energy and unscriptedness that is a plus for him and that is one of the reasons I like him is also what alienates him from many people.
That said, I think "electability" -- which is what is being used against Dean -- is being defined all wrong. I think this election -- for better or worse -- will be more of a referendum on the Bush presidency than anything else. The last election showed that we are a polarized nation. In previous elections, it has been all about who can claim the "movable middle". It's not that way this time. There really isn't as much of a movable middle to speak of. Bush's presidency has been very polarizing ... even more so than Clinton's. Democrats aren't going to cross over and vote for Bush ... even if Al Sharpton were the candidate ... any more than Republicans are going to cross over and vote for a Democrat ... even one as mildly Democratic as Wes Clark. The election will be won or lost based on the candidates ability to bring new people into the process ... to mobilize their existing bases and expand them.
That is exactly what Dean did early on ... before he felt forced to go negative after undergoing 3 weeks of pounding from Kerry and Gephardt. To the credit of Kerry, Clark and Edwards, they have followed Dean's lead and been able to bring new people into the process, too (at least in Iowa). It was VERY interesting that a huge number of caucus-goers last night were first-timers and that the majority of them went for Kerry. That's good news for the party, whomever is the nominee.
I support Dean because I try to be a person of the Gospel, and as such, I think we need to not just be concerned with our self-interest but to first look out for the poor in this country and around the world. As such, I believe the 3 biggest issues this country faces are our role in the world (not just war, but HIV/AIDS, and other huge foreign policy issues), health care and race. I believe Dean's ideas and record are superior to Kerry's, Edwards' and Clark's on all three of these fronts. I think either one of them can beat Bush ... if the party truly rallies around the right candidate. Before last night, I didn't think Kerry and Edwards could ... and, frankly, I still have doubts about Kerry (if I were a betting man, I would put down $20 on John Edwards right now ... and I like Edwards, so I don't think it would be bad at all if he won).
Still, I'm nervous. I want to watch very closely the next week what happens in New Hampshire. I'm hoping the new underdog Dean returns to what it was that got him to be a front-runner in the first place. I have a sneaking feeling that John Edwards has stolen that role from him.
A lot will depend on how Dean is able to fight the "angry man" image. If you have listened closely to him, he's not nutty-angry, he's passionate in a way that sometimes comes out sharply. There's a big difference. But it's much easier and a much better sale for the media to paint a candidate simply as the "angry guy." Simple characterization sells. That's why Kerry and Gephart did it, too.
Howard Dean is the first candidate since Paul Tsongas in 1992 that I have worked for and the only candidate for president I have ever given money to. I'm not a blind Deaniac, but I am a strong supporter.
Oh, and I think every American citizen should read Ron Suskind's new book "The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, The White House, and the education of Paul O'Neill" It's eye-opening to say the least. And despite the administration's attempts to portray him otherwise, Paul O'Neill is not a wild, unstable radical. He is one of the most influential and well-respected conservative voices of the past 40 years. He's also a strong Episcopalian (of whom a mutual friend, George Werner, speaks incredibly highly about as a man of integrity), and has stood up -- as a conservative Republican -- for the same Gospel values that have me supporting Howard Dean.
The book clearly shows that this election is not about liberal vs. conservative as it has been traditionally understood. People of Gospel values can be liberal or conservative because they differ on how to realize those values. Although I have no doubt that our president is a person of considerable faith, the true powers in this administration are running an agenda (steamrolling more like it) that values things that are decidedly contrary to the Gospel. And people are literally dying because of it ... not just in Iraq, but all over the world.
This election looks more important every day. Check out www.deanforamerica.com and decide for yourself.
| Mike at 1/20/2004 12:02:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."