Tuesday, February 24, 2004

What's worse than Howard Dean withdrawing?

You know the worst part of Dean withdrawing? The thousands of Dean supporters all over the country who are now spamming every known e-mail address associated with the campaign with their own grand plans for how we can get Dean elected.

I admire persistence. And I appreciate the sincerity of the effort. But enough already!

If you’re not fortunate enough to be on one of these lists, here’s the Madlibs-type format:

Dear [Dean Supporter]:

Now is not the time to give up! While Gov. Dean has (withdrawn/stopped actively campaigning/decided to rest for a few weeks), we must (support the nominee/support Edwards/give up sleeping) to (beat Bush/send a message to the leadership/elect Dean Supreme High Commander of Earth). To do this, we must (support the nominee/destroy Kerry/show our love for Dean).

Please go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RandomGroups4Dean to sign up. We can’t waste another day!

I really don’t mean to insult anyone, but the e-mail traffic has been overwhelming. And it seems to me that all this energy spent setting up literally hundreds of groups will consume the majority of the energy of the individuals who might be able to make a real difference. (Disclaimer: Though I’ve been posting at Joe Trippi’s blog ChangeforAmerica, I’m not involved in the efforts to build a successor grassroots effort to the Dean campaign. I have also been in touch with a number of activists who are interested in harnessing the energy behind these groups.)

Bottom line: there’s a lot of energy out there looking to be active, stay involved and make a difference. Unfortunately it seems to me that quite a bit of that energy right now is being spent on being busy.


  1. Yes, there is some spinning of wheels as Dean activists plot out different ideas for keeping at least some of the Dean movement together. But the campaign is so rich in quality people that coming up with a group of organizations, working together on some projects, working individually on others,is hardly a bad sign. From the New Democratic Coalition, which emanated from the McCarthy and Kennedy campaigns, to Americans for Common Sense, from the McGovern Campaign,to Independent Action, from the Udall Campaign, to the Rainbow Coalition, from the Jackson Campaign, to the Concord Coalition, from the Tsongas Campaign, post-election organizations of candidate supporters have had a big influence on the Democratic Party. The same is true with the Republican Party, with the Christian Coalition from the Robertson campaign being the prime example.

    Campaign-based organizations may last a long time (there is still a Woodrow Wilson Club which meets annually in Carlise, Pennsylvania) or a shortime (Americans for Common Sense only about three years), but they are an honorable tradition, and Dean supporters should be praised for carrying on and enhancing it with the possibility of mutiple organizations.

  2. Interesting article on Dean and the Mainstream Dems from Business Week:


  3. Rep. Cohen - You're most certainly right. And as is hopefully obvious, I continue to be interested in, and supportive of, efforts to corral this energy into a positive force for change in the country.

    I guess what I was (somewhat ineptly, I admit) trying to do was point out that if all that energy is absorbed spinning tires, the movement won't get very far.

    I'm hopeful that there will be a collective breath taken sometime soon, that a few umbrella-level groups can get established, so that the challenge of organizing can be assumed by a few and the rest can get busy making progress.

    (And I wouldn't mind the decrease in my inbox at the same time. Twelve more invites to join new Yahoo Groups yesterday alone.)


  4. In Minneapolis we are doing what Dean asked us to do and that is get involved in the Local Democratic party. If you can't handle the local party then join and meet-up and support local candidates. Most of my meet-up were Dean supporters but we are respectful of the Kerry and Edwards, etc. supporters and are looking for projects to improve the state races. The DNC has not asked us to do anything but support the National Unity Day on March 25th. We hope some Wellstone trained grassroots orgaiziers show up because thats what we need the most in our Meet-up. Rick you are a "opinion Leader" and that is why all the spam. Get a job and get settled in and then we hope to hear more from you here or Change for America.

  5. It seems obvious to me, but I haven't seen it explicitly called out, so I'll just note that groups like MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress deserve the support of progressives who want to use Internet power to change politics. One of the lessons that the right has learned and perfected is the idea that focusing on general issues, and not just personalities, is a critical tactic in moving an agenda forward, and these organizations are doing that in a smart, 'net-savvy way.

    And, of course, continuing to build the chain of progressive, literate weblogs is an important tactic as well - read Matt Yglesias' site on the latest statistics, which show that blog readers outnumber NY Times readers, and maybe even cable news watchers!