Even as the Democratic Party seeks to unite against George W. Bush, many of its grass-roots activists are in mutiny. The rift is less about issues than an argument about the way politics works in America and the role of passion and anger in stirring the electorate, and its resolution will determine the Democratic strategy in 2004 and the direction of the party thereafter.
Tired of running toward a center that has moved sharply right since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, many in the party's left wing want a candidate who can mobilize the party's base and inspire non-voters to join. The [Democratic Leadership Council] rejects this approach -- and sometimes seems to mock it. Noting that liberals are a small minority in America, its Web site says: "No matter how excited, energized, stoked and psyched you are, you only get to vote once."
Many grass-roots Democrats are convinced that the DLC's middle-of-the-road strategy led the party to defeat in the 2002 midterms. "Over the last 22 years that we've been following this poll-and-move-right-plan, we've lost the governorships, lost the Senate, lost the House, and lost the presidency," says [Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi]. "We used to control 40 of the state Legislatures. Now Republicans control 40 of the state Legislatures."
The fight between the two sides isn't so much ideological as tactical. Howard Dean, after all, isn't really a leftist, or even a traditional liberal. He's the most fiscally conservative of the nine candidates running for the Democratic nomination and supports gun rights and the death penalty. Certainly, his antiwar stance has won him a great deal of liberal support, but his pugnacious style has been almost equally as important.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.