Two days after the Red Sox historic sweep in last year’s World Series, I said only half-jokingly to a friend, “I think there’s still a way they could lose this thing.”
It was a similar feeling to one I had over the past few days… could Howard Dean really be the next DNC chair? It was all but a done deal once Roemer and Fowler dropped out — yet I still hesitated. After all, I remember what it felt like in December, 2003… Dean on top of the polls, raised the most money of any candidate ever — what could possibly go wrong?
A lot, as it turned out.
Yet here we are, a year later, with Howard Dean now officially the chair of the Democratic National Committee. I’m thrilled — Howard Dean empowered a generation of citizens who realized they could be participate in the political system rather than simply observe it. Let the Republicans claim to be excited (and amused) by his selection; his election is not about them, it’s about us. The biggest problem with the Democratic party today is its lack of connection with the people who vote Democratic; when people like James Carville claim to be embarrassed by the grass-roots energy behind the selection of Dean as the party’s chair, well, I think that tells you just about everything you need to know about the state of the party today.
Iowa and New Hampshire used to have a monopoly on retail politics, getting the early exposure to presidential candidates who had no choice but to patronize every diner, PTA meeting and ice cream social. The Internet leveled the playing field, gave us all a taste of what having access (and input!) to the process felt like. Once you see how easy and fulfilling that is, you don’t go back to sitting idly by, waiting for someone else to come along making empty promises about how things will get better: you demand their attention, urge honest answers, and pledge your time to work towards genuine progress. With a more vibrant party committed to growing the ranks of candidates at all levels, we’ll know our candidates better, be more committed to their election. And we’ll hold them accountable.
What makes me most excited about Howard Dean’s chairmanship is his commitment to getting Democrats to run in every race. His closing lines in today’s acceptance speech give me much of the same enthusiasm I had when I first started paying attention to him well over two years ago:
Election by election… State by state… Precinct by precinct… Door by door… Vote by vote…
We’re going to take this country back for the people who built it.
I’m excited about the next four years. Congratulations, Howard Dean. And thank you, DNC. Let’s get to work.
If you’d like to contribute to the DNC to welcome Howard Dean to the Chairman’s role, click here. Thanks!