Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Style and Substance 

Well, let's be honest. America has been waiting for my comments on the Iowa caucuses. I was pretty upset last night, because I truly believed Dean was going to finish a comfortable first. Obviously, his organization was not what it was cracked up to be, Kerry's was more than it was cracked up to be and Edward's was just effective enough to capitalize on his late surge.

Goldberg has posted about Dean's campaign and how his message is almost more about the campaign than himself. I don't think this is bad. Issue by issue, Dean's stances are not too different than the other candidates - and he certainly needs to focus more on the fact that he was a pragmatic, centrist governor who brought real and positive change to Vermont. But I think his campaign is what is exciting, and why he has a chance to win.

Dean's campaign is also about something more than his record in Vermont - and that is taking Washington back from the special interests. That is a cliche, of course, but the Dean campaign is the first I know of that is funded in a truly grassroots manner. Sure, Dean has his share of fundraisers, but he doesn't owe anything to any special interest groups. His campaign has been run by people, and that is who he will be accountable to in the White House.

This isn't just talk - the most successful insurgent candidates have been tapping into the anger and frustration so many Americans feel when the realize that the rich don't just have more money than us, they also have more of a vote and more of a say in what gets done in Washington. This has always been true, for sure, but what does the average person have to turn to now? Unions are dead politically - see, e.g., last night. The AARP is a joke. Environmental groups can't really influence an administration that chooses to ignore science. All we have is our vote, and during the last election the guy we voted for didn't even win. And if this has always been true Dean has found a way for it to not be true anymore - by using the internet as a way to bring people together, to get his message out and to make every single one of his supporters feel like an important, integral part of "our campaign."

So I don't feel bad about supporting Dean in large part due to his campaign - especially when he has a record of executive success. I'm not sure what happened last night, but I do know the establishment will continue fighting harder as long as Dean tries to change things. That is why we will continue fighting back. The type of fundamental change in politics that Dean wants to achieve will not come without a long, hard struggle.

Mom, I want to thank you for being the only one to read all this.

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