Friday, December 12, 2003
I think I agree with every word of this column by Harold Meyerson. There are real reasons to fear the consequences of a Dean defeat. But it is a prejudgment, at best, to assume that such a defeat is inevitable. Furthermore, it is essential to recognize the very important Dean's campaign has ALREADY made to the Democratic party and--and if his work is recognized--to this country. The Democrats must oppose the fascists. Without apology. Now I know that the absolute necessity of winning next year cannot be forgotten, and there are reasons to think Clark may be the man to save us from national incineration. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with this perspective. But something else has to be recognized: as long as that--the need to play the game so as to win--is the ONLY consideration governing Democratic campaigns, the Democrats really are surrendering in advance. The Democrats have to draw a line and hold it. It would be much, much better if they could draw that line knowing that a majority of Americans were on the same side of the line as the Democrats themselves (say, after a presidential victory). But: if there is no victory, and the drawing of the line is forever postponed, we will all be sucked into the Republican void. I know this is what the Greens said 4 years ago. But the Dean insurgency is not the same as the Green "fit" (with which I nonetheless sympathized). The nature of the Dean insurgency HAS NOT YET BEEN DETERMINED. There are still choices to be made, by very powerful people. Rebellion and consensus building have not yet crystallized as opposing forces. We simply must be optimistic. If Clark can pull together a real campaign--which he hasn't yet done--that will be cause for celebration. But Dean HAS pulled together a real campaign, and I refuse not to see something to hope for in that.
Dean's Band of Outsiders
By Harold Meyerson
While the nation's Democratic leaders were unable to understand just how marginal they'd become, however, millions of rank-and-file Democrats and just plain disgruntled Bush-haters intuitively grasped what was going on. Bush was bent on repealing the New Deal and replacing the internationalist order that the United States had erected after World War II with a more nationalist vision of his own. If you weren't with him, you were against him. And he was against you.
Howard Dean's initial appeal has been to those Americans who always knew they were on the margins of George Bush's America. Not the socioeconomic margins, not the African American and Latino communities, but the political, cultural and existential margins -- the young, urban, white middle class in particular. Dean's are the people who were bowling alone -- not churchgoers, not union members. They shared a set of beliefs on which they'd never before had an opportunity to act collectively.