Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Thursday, January 29, 2004
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Reich Is Right


Faithful reader Bill S brought to my attention this op-ed by Robert Reich in the NYTimes:

[Dean's] campaign is both grass-roots and reformist, and is based on the proposition that ordinary people must be empowered to "take back America."
...
Democrats have seen what the Republican Party has been able to accomplish over the years. The conservative movement has developed dedicated sources of money and legions of ground troops who not only get out the vote, but also spend the time between elections persuading others to join their ranks. It has devised frames of reference that are used repeatedly in policy debates (among them: it's your money, tax and spend, political correctness, class warfare).

It has a system for recruiting and electing officials nationwide who share the same world view and who will vote accordingly. And it has a coherent ideology uniting evangelical Christians, blue-collar whites in the South and West, and big business — an ideology in which foreign enemies, domestic poverty and crime, and homosexuality all must be met with strict punishment and religious orthodoxy.

In contrast, the Democratic Party has had no analogous movement to animate it. Instead, every four years party loyalists throw themselves behind a presidential candidate who they believe will deliver them from the rising conservative tide. After the election, they go back to whatever they were doing before.
...
As we head into the next wave of primaries, the Democratic candidates should pay close attention to what Republicans have learned about winning elections. First, it is crucial to build a political movement that will endure after particular electoral contests. Second, in order for a presidency to be effective, it needs a movement that mobilizes Americans behind it. Finally, any political movement derives its durability from the clarity of its convictions. And there's no better way to clarify convictions than to hone them in political combat.

I think Reich is spot on. As Bill says, why isn't this guy a Dean supporter? Again, why did the Dems try to shoot Howie down, rather than embracing him?

Well, for me the Dean campaign hasn't been about Dean himself so much as his values and ideas. I guess as long as those can ultimately gain traction, it doesn't really matter who the messenger is--so long as the messenger really internalizes and believes in what he's saying, and effectively communicates and implements it.

So it is nice to see Reich and Dean's Dem opponents co-opt Howie's message and movement. That ought to earn Dean a spot on the Cabinet (Sec'y HHS?) if he doesn't win the whole ball of wax. I'd like to see Kerry, Edwards, and Clark capture some of Dean's energy, too, but that might be wishing for too much.

ntodd 
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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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