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Discover PS.org's Framing and Tactical Assault Projects!
Howard Speaks, I Listen
11/30/04

I went to hear Howard Dean speak last night here at Stanford, and he didn't disappoint. Even though this was part of a speaker series, in a sitdown auditorium with a theoretically neutral audience, and with no election in sight, it felt more than a bit like a campaign event.

I'll try briefly to summarize some of the things he was talking about, but I'll begin with the two important ones: his attitude toward what lies ahead and his hints about his own possible plans.

The first thing to say is that he hasn't backed down in the least. He began (assuming, correctly, that we were partisans) by saying, "I have some good news -- 51% is NOT a mandate." His criticism of the administration, both in tone and substance, could put many of us bloggers to shame. He used the word "liars" on several occassions. (At one point, encouraging the predominantly student audience to consider running for office in the future, he said, run for library commissioner, run for school board, run for state legislature, hell run for president, I don't think there's a person in this room who doesn't think they could do a better job than George W. Bush.) He remains uncompromisingly optimistic, insisting that "we will prevail," despite last month's setbacks; he declared that radical right wing politics in America will eventually end up where they belong, in the trashcan of history.

Second, he is clearly thinking a great deal about whether to pursue the DNC chairmanship or reserve himself to run in '08. At one point he explicitly mentioned that taking on the former would preclude the latter. And when specifically asked whether he intended to make a bid for DNC chair, he ruminated on the fact that it's hard to say whether reform is better accomplished from the inside or the outside. He maintained that the DNC is rotten with the culture of losing, and that he isn't sure but that he'd rather continue with the grassroots angle that Democracy for America affords. But he also recognizes the potential power of transforming and reforming the Party from within.

He was asked about the voting irregularities, and here, too, he didn't shy away. He began by noting that perhaps the most troubling thing was the obvious voter suppression in places like Ohio (with the artificially long lines, etc.) He said that the point was that even a recount can't tell us much with Black Box Voting machines (some of you may recall that Bev Harris gave him a hands on tutorial on how easy it was to hack the vote). And he said that requiring a verifiable paper trail to audit, and electing Democratic Secretaries of State should both be priorities. He also mentioned the importance of Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Voting Rights constitutional amendment (which I tracked down and you can read here.)

He spoke at length about the importance of his signing of the Vermont Civil Unions bill, which he clearly sees as one of the more important things he has done in politics. His foregrounding of this is part and parcel of his overall strategy of taking the offensive and candidly and forcefully defending his beliefs. He "reframed" the issue in terms of fairness and justice by telling an anecdote that I've heard before about a gay 80-year old D-Day Veteran who came to thank him after a stump speech for having signed the civil unions bill. Doesn't this man, who has served his country more than anyone (well, Dean specifically mentioned Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz) deserve the same rights as the rest of us?

He talked a good deal about standing for our own moral values and forcefully arguing why they are superior to the so-called moral values of the radical right. We need to stand up for what we believe in. He focused on Community, the idea of (re)building communities, in both a literal and figurative sense. In fact Community was the uniting theme of his (otherwise sometimes wandering) speech. He was asked explicitly about Lakoff in the Q&A and quite openly said that he has been tremendously influenced by him, that what he is saying comes right from Moral Politics and urged everyone there, if nothing else, to read the last ten pages of Don't Think of an Elephant.

One of the biggest applause lines came when he challenged the radical right's claim to ownership of Christian rhetoric. Jesus, he declared, was about including the downtrodden, and the Republicans, with their insistence on public displays of religion, resemble nothing more than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

And he made clear his continued challenge to the DLC. He reparaphrased the famous Truman quote that if you run a Republican against a Democrat who looks like a Republican, the Republican will win every time. "We don't need two Republican Parties." When asked about them, he tried to dismiss their influence, saying nobody outside Washington listens to them at this point.

He also continued to target the media, using the "scream" speech as an intro. (He began, "Let me get this out of the way: Yearrrgh!" to raucous applause; which he followed by asking "Now was that so terrifying?") He discussed how the actual atmosphere in the room was nothing like the reportage or perception of the scream, and how one or two media organizations only acknowledged this two weeks later. He said that the worst thing about Fox is not that it is a rightwing propaganda organ, which of course it is, but that other media organs are mimicking its flashy graphics and dumbing down of the news into entertainment because of the fact that it sells. The hopeful news, he said, is that young folks like those in the audience get their news more and more from the internet and the Daily Show (he mentioned Jon Stewart several times during his speech in fact).

He also linked Community to globalization. Globalization, he argued, on the face of it is neither good nor bad. What is important is how it is enacted. So far NAFTA, the WTO, et. al. have only done half the job: they have provided free trade, freedom to operate for coorporations. Until they complete the equation by also extending labor rights and environmental protections, globalization will end up producing nothing more than continued worldwide resentment to America and its brand of capitalism.

Since this is already a bit lengthy, I'll just give a few thoughts in summation. As tempting as it is to look forward to another Dean run in '08, my inclination is to say that he would be even more valuable as DNC chair, even if this would preclude a run for the presidency. The Democratic Party is in desperate need of a shot in the arm, and Dean would absolutely provide it. Whether he would be able to fight his way through the opposition to the sort of changes he (and many of us) would like to see in the way that Democrats approach politics is an open question, but just his being in this prominent position would be the first step in effecting such a change. As he said, we need to win the country back one vote at a time, one precinct at a time.

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Dean, Howard :: Democrats :: Progressive Strategy | Link

Comments

Hey, everybody please join me in supporting an Ohio recount and If you live close to Ohio why not sign up to help in with the recount?

Posted by: A. at November 30, 2004 11:58 PM

Thanks Stu--it's nice to hear this kind of talk from Howard Dean. Ever since the media crucified him out of the campaign, Dean has been definitely speaking with a refreshingly progressive fervor. I'm inclined to agree with you that Dean would make a better chairman than candidate. With Dean at the helm, hopefully the Demos will cease their consistent shift to the right and finally begin to win elections again. For what its worth (or maybe because I'm a sadist) I'll be attending a Progressive Democrats of America/Dean For America Meet-Up tomorrow.

In Cali, where a growing number of us are Greens, we've learned to curb our enthusiasm with the Democrats. Bottom line: I'll believe it when I see it. I hate to sound so negative, but it's like deja-vu all over again...many of us have been preaching the same mantra for years with no results and a lot of resistance. Hopefully, the PDA/DFA meet-ups will galvanize and energize the Demos.

Posted by: Delton at December 1, 2004 12:36 AM

I remain adamantly opposed to Dean going for DNC Chair: the greatest repository of power on the planet is the office of the US president. Deam should be PRESIDENT.
And I don't really see a future for this Democrat[ic](sic)Party. The future belongs to a grand Progressive Coalition, and Dean is already its de facto head and leader.

Posted by: Norman K. Marsh at December 1, 2004 02:02 AM

I agree that Howard Dean should not Accept the Demo Party Chair. This is a 4 year commitment that requires a promise not to run for president. Gov. Dean should start campaigning now and develope a war- chest from his small contribitors that could carry the day four years from now. Also most people that hear him are sold and he should roam the country over this time.

Posted by: M L Gulick, M D at December 1, 2004 04:41 PM

I agree that Howard Dean should not Accept the Demo Party Chair. This is a 4 year commitment that requires a promise not to run for president. Gov. Dean should start campaigning now and develope a war- chest from his small contribitors that could carry the day four years from now. Also most people that hear him are sold and he should roam the country over this time.

Posted by: M L Gulick, M D at December 1, 2004 04:51 PM

well, dean would present a refreshing change from that of cheif scumbag terry mc, who along with the party hung him out to dry with his "screaming howard dean" image that was given to display without outrage... but hey why on eor the other? harris and blackwell show you can be an election disorganizer and hold power as campaign heads, why not party cheif and candidate also? no prob as far as i'm concerned , just more evidence of the bankruptcy of this american "two party" system....

Posted by: wanwan at December 1, 2004 06:18 PM

I think Dean should abandon the Dems altogether and forge ahead with a new party. The democrats don't deserve him and if I were he, I'd be more than a little bitter about the way the Democrats bent over backwards to help the media bring him down.

The DNC doesn't even represent the base of the democratic party any more, and they've proven it repeatedly for decades. Clinton won because he's Bill Clinton, not because of the DNC.

I firmly believe democrats should abandon their party to forge a real progressive and LIBERAL party that represents the base of the party.

I don't care if Hillary is running against Satan in 2008, I will work as hard as I did for Dean and then for Kerry (canvassing, volunteering) in support of a third-party candidate.

Any party that loses to Bush-the-Lesser, whose EVERY policy has been a disaster, does not deserve to be taken seriously as a political party.

Sure, it was the media induced ignorance as well as the dirty tricks, disenfranchisement, intimidation and I believe, fraud that won this election for Bush, but it's not as if any of that was a SURPRISE.

As far as I'm concerned, the Dems are done.

Posted by: Stephen De'ak at December 1, 2004 06:35 PM

THERE IS SO MUCH ANGST THAT IT WOULD TAKE A SUPER POLITICO TO OVERCOME AND EQUATE. THE "HIGH " MORALITY OF THE TOP AND FOREMOST DEMOCRATS ARE A BUNCH OF DIVERSIFIED AND SOLO PLAYERS, NOT WISHING TO EXPEND POLITICAL CAPITAL AT THEIR INDIVIDUAL EXPENSE. JUST THINK ABOUT, SENATOR BYRD , ROCKEFELLER IN WEST VIRGINIA, COULD NOT BRING THAT STATE IN ONCE AGAIN !!! NEW NEXICO WITH GOV RICHARDSON, REP GEBHARDT IN MISSOURI , GOV OF IOWA ALL FAILING, NOT WINNING THE GOVERNISHIP OF STATE OF WASH AND PATTY MURRAY EASILY WINNING. THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH A MESSAGE WHICH IS MISSING AND ONE THAT RUNS THROUGHOUT AND CONSISTENT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, NO ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE AND ALL SHOULD STICK WITH THE MESSAGE, AS THE REPUBLICANS SO MILITANTLY DO.

Posted by: Norman Kaffee at December 1, 2004 06:40 PM

I am inclined to agree with Stephen. The Democrats ran a candidate against the worst president in the history of our country... and LOST! Not only did they lose the presidency, they also failed in their attempt to retake the House and Senate.

Dr. Dean is way beyond the Democratic Party. It'll never catch up with him, and does not deserve him.

Posted by: Len at December 1, 2004 08:31 PM

Thanks for all of the comments. While I agree that Dean is infinitely preferable to most of the timid Democrats in Washington, I don't know that abandoning the Party is practicable. Like it or not, the Democratic Party, despite its failures, has an entrenched institutional apparatus that would take a long time to replicate.

In his speech the other night, Dean referred to the fact that as DNC chair he would have to deal with a lot of resistance from the entrenched apparatchiki, and this is clearly causing him to be reluctant to take on this burden. At the same time, he implied that the challenge might be a worthy one. I tend to agree. While the current Democratic Party needs a great deal of reform, there is no practical alternative at the current time, and we do not have the luxury of letting the radical right take over even more than they already have while we attempt to build from the ground up.

While I would love to see a presidential candidate Dean in 2008, the Democratic Party needs to be reformed from within, now. Atrios posted yesterday that Harry Reid just announced that the Senate Democrats will be establishing a war room to respond to Republican attacks. That is, they just now figured out that they need to do this. Where the hell have they been for the past twenty years? We need someone like Dean in charge of the Party to kick their asses into gear.

Posted by: Stu Finkel (sdf) at December 1, 2004 11:22 PM

It took the GOP since the fall of Nixon until 2000 to turn thier party around.

In that time they used "think tanks" and organizations to reframe the debate until they had the talking points. Remember Newt's "Contract". Well, they took the leggislature with it, and the end result? They are doing worse than the Dems did, at their worst.

Progreesives, Liberals, and even Truman Democrats like myself have to re-take our party. The DLC moved us into the world of GOP-lite, and it has failed.

Dean shouldn't take the lead chair at the DNC. He should go out and start campaigning NOW. He should be out every week talking to people about what it means to be a progressive Democrat. He should be stumping in the Red States with the message that the government is not about helping the wealthy, but about leveling the playing field and expanding the middle class.

He should be talking about the inclusiveness that recognizes EVERY persons rights and fights for them. The knows that taking care of a childs cold at $20 is far better for society than paying thousands when he comes down with far worse ailments because we didn't stop the cold.

He should be talking about freedom of choice, rather than government regulation. He should be talking about debtor states and borrower states and how the federal government pays welfare to the red states to buy their votes. He should be talking about those of privilege who go to college and perpetuate it, and those who lack it and join the military because that is the only road left open to them, and come home in body bags.

He should remind people how we locked our gas caps in the 70's and blamed Carter for the mess, and how today gas is much higher (as a percentage of income), but we don't hold this administration responsible for any of it.

He should attack, attack, attack. He should reframe the message. He should work with Boxer, Clinton, and other Senate leaders to make the party an opposition party. He should help bring Democrats from the House into the chior as well. And, in three years he should announce to the world that he's back, and ready to rumble, with a Dean Scream!

Posted by: Met00 at December 2, 2004 12:42 AM

All great comments, although I'm more inclined to agree with Stephen and Len. It would be different if the democrats just lost the presidential election but they lost big time all around. They control nothing in the government, and realistically, it wasn't like theirs was a *strong* representative voice there anyway--especially in the senate. The Demos in California, for example, who are successful are the progressive/liberal ones. Also more and more Greens are gaining support and being elected as well.

The democrats abandoned many of us quite a while ago. It's not like we haven't heard this all before from the democrats. People are understandably fed up. Among many things, the Democrats are often accused of taking the African American vote for granted and they are guilty as charged. John Kerry is sitting on 50 million dollars after the election but it is the Green Party, Ralph Nader and the Libertarians along with a bunch of pissed off voters concerned about our terrible electoral process who are responsible for ensuring that there is a recount in Ohio. Not the Democrats.

After watching them turn their backs on their die-hard constituents during the 2000 (and 2002) elections, then turn their backs again 4 years later, they are lucky that they haven't experienced a mass exodus (yet). People stood out in line for hours to vote for John Kerry, they could have at least waited to those votes were counted before conceding (and then subsequently refusing to help in the recount). Totally no respect whatsoever.

However, if Howard Dean (or someone equally or more prolific than him) takes Met00's advice, maybe, just maybe the Dems stand a chance.

Posted by: Delton at December 2, 2004 02:59 AM

Wise Up Folks-
Everyone is typing SUCH- Educated--Reason...and fine grammatical arguements.

As if Reason, commands any Power in these circumstances.

Keep it Simple Folks. Kerry Won. Look at the stats... There is NO REASON-- any educated mind-- would have Faith in the Results of this Election-- And that's before reflecting on sElection 2000.

Long and Short: Voting Machines. Period. And the Tabulators.

Voter suppression and other irregularities round out any suspicion.

However. We ARE loosers-- that IS what we are good at... Look at most everyone- agreeing to "our" dismal failures-- after we had successes EVERYWHERE-- by every measure--

Except of course the beyond questionable final results.

Instead-- "Democrats" whine and ring hands and confess their supposed failures-- without having the courage to point and click a bit-- do some rudimetary analysis, and use Common Sense.

Nah- Folks are just so darn polite-- it would be so impolite to think of dirty tricks and dirty deeds --- stolen elections...Puh... ("but Kerry Conceded... blah blah")

Loosers I agree-- but not Loosers of the Election. Of Much more ...

Hey... Let's go Shopping and then out for Lattes- I hear Hillary is gonna run in 2008.

Punk'd. And the DNC-- (Kerry?) --& Liberal Friends in the Press? What-Up Folks?

And Ohio's Votes are not even counted and official yet... unbelievable! And a Media Blackout & Sellout- Citizen Drop Out-- and Red Blue- sports team- gee shucks...

Voting Machines Folks--
Got Buzzflash.com? Got BlackBoxvoting.org?
Got Buzzflash.com?
Got Commondreams.org?

Pathetic Show by US- on POST Election "Our Performance" makes me understand "we" are probably not qualified to Rule or Govern-- We DO NOT have What it takes--like following through on the Big Projects-- and other tough Governing Situations.... Amateurs and Softies--

By the Way.."Where's Kerry?"

Posted by: Citizen USA at December 2, 2004 04:33 AM

I would like to to
see Dean as DLC and restore out party

Posted by: ulia Ryan at December 2, 2004 04:41 AM

The best candidate in the world can't win with a lousy group supporting him, just as the worst candidate *can* win with a powerful group behind him - as we've just seen. At this point, Dean would be much more influential as DNC Chairman than he ever could be as a presidential candidate. And unless somebody knocks the Dems into shape, they could run God Himself with Jesus as VP in the next election and lose. Dean himself wouldn't have a chance. If he really wants to do something for this country, he needs to reform the Democratic party - however he can best do that.

Posted by: Antsy at December 2, 2004 06:40 AM

If early Dem primary states had voted for Dean, he would be president now, because with the power of an early victory, he would have used every second of time on the pulpit to put the record straight. (Voters in IA & NH went "safe" and followed Kerry, and, with their paltry 11 Electoral votes, unleashed a campaign that was notable only for its weakness. Sure would be nice to have CA, IL, & NY be among the very first primaries!) The only attribute that will win for Dems in the future is the BALLS to face down the BULLIES. Tell them—to their faces, consistently, unequivocally—to SHOVE their lying bullshit, and use every opportunity to expose Repub's pathological mind-bending propaganda, the dangerousness of their policies, and the complicity of the media. Having the truth on our side is useless if we continue to cave in to liars.

Posted by: P.R.M. at December 2, 2004 12:10 PM

We need Dean to be in the National spotlight so that the principles he stands for can be heard by the both Blue Staters and Red Staters and we can better define who we are. Dean as the candidate may not have been our answer but Dean as National Spokesperson and "guru" of the New-New Democrats
may be our answer.

Posted by: Steve C. at December 2, 2004 12:55 PM

Stu, with all due respect, you say that we don't have the luxury of allowing the radical right to gain any more power, and with that I heartily agree. That is why I think another party is an absolute necessity.

Had Dean been the standard bearer, he would NOT have played by the established rules of the Washington elite wimps. He would have called Bush on his BS and, had they tried to steal the election with Dean at the helm, Dean would have been calling it by it's proper name, FRAUD, from the start and would have DEMANDED an immediate investigation.

Why do you think the GOP got involved in the PRIMARIES with negative ads against Dean? It was Rove who claimed that Dean was the one they wanted to run against, so why were there attack ads brought on by republicans which worked in Kerry's favor? Because when Rove said Dean was who he wanted to run against, he was saying that Dean was the one person he DIDN'T WANT TO RUN AGAINST.

Rove PUNK'D the democrats in a big way and they played right into his hands by putting Kerry up instead of Dean. And Rove knew that Kerry's been a corporate whore for decades and wouldn't step outside of the established rules of the Washington game by challenging an election that the GOP stole fair and square.

NO. The democrats have betrayed their constituents and their country by allowing the GOP to get away with their lies, their treason and their fraud. That's why the democrats cannot EVER do anything but to CONTINUE to lose to the radical right. They are too entrenched in the Washington establishment to change their ways.

How much worse does it have to get for the DNC to wake up?

How much more power do they have to lose before they have less crediility and less clout than a third party? I bet we find out in 2006 when the dems lose even more seats in congress.

It will take a third party with no ties to the Washington pattern of corruption and power sharing to bring credibility back to our political system.

Having some valid media won't hurt either.

Unfortunately though, I feel we're on the path of fascism now that will take the destruction of our society to ever regain our freedom.

I just hope they don't torch the planet in the process.

Posted by: Stephen De'ak at December 2, 2004 06:41 PM

Stu, with all due respect, you say that we don't have the luxury of allowing the radical right to gain any more power, and with that I heartily agree. That is why I think another party is an absolute necessity.

Had Dean been the standard bearer, he would NOT have played by the established rules of the Washington elite wimps. He would have called Bush on his BS and, had they tried to steal the election with Dean at the helm, Dean would have been calling it by it's proper name, FRAUD, from the start and would have DEMANDED an immediate investigation.

Why do you think the GOP got involved in the PRIMARIES with negative ads against Dean? It was Rove who claimed that Dean was the one they wanted to run against, so why were there attack ads brought on by republicans which worked in Kerry's favor? Because when Rove said Dean was who he wanted to run against, he was saying that Dean was the one person he DIDN'T WANT TO RUN AGAINST.

Rove PUNK'D the democrats in a big way and they played right into his hands by putting Kerry up instead of Dean. And Rove knew that Kerry's been a corporate whore for decades and wouldn't step outside of the established rules of the Washington game by challenging an election that the GOP stole fair and square.

NO. The democrats have betrayed their constituents and their country by allowing the GOP to get away with their lies, their treason and their fraud. That's why the democrats cannot EVER do anything but to CONTINUE to lose to the radical right. They are too entrenched in the Washington establishment to change their ways.

How much worse does it have to get for the DNC to wake up?

How much more power do they have to lose before they have less crediility and less clout than a third party? I bet we find out in 2006 when the dems lose even more seats in congress.

It will take a third party with no ties to the Washington pattern of corruption and power sharing to bring credibility back to our political system.

Having some valid media won't hurt either.

Unfortunately though, I feel we're on the path of fascism now that will take the destruction of our society to ever regain our freedom.

I just hope they don't torch the planet in the process.

Posted by: Stephen De'ak at December 2, 2004 06:42 PM

Dean and Edwards and kerry should ofstay in the race have to keepthree candidates for run against the republican president one republican president candidate that way one of the democratic president will beat the republican electfor presdient this is seriously so lets try that way instead of just have one democrats on the ballot if u know what I means that way one of democratic will beat republican president watch it it can happens..

Posted by: todd Clark at December 3, 2004 12:42 AM

I augget to have four democratic nomintee presidents and just one republican president to be fair.

Posted by: todd Clark at December 3, 2004 12:44 AM

Unfortunately, even though both parties have become blatant whores to corporations, too much of America is still locked into our *traditional* and corrupt, two-party political process. Having a viable Third (or Fourth) Party is definitely a good solution and a way to end this vicious cycle.

Posted by: Delton at December 3, 2004 01:05 AM

Hi Stu! Well I still can't seem to find your Daily Kos diary but at least I found my way here.

Since I was sitting beside you at the event I wish to commend you for an excellent summation.

I had an exchange with a guy on the Stanford peace-discuss list about what exactly Howard said about the drug war. He kept insisting that Howard had opposed decriminalizing marijuana possession but I heard Howard say the phrase "decriminalize nonviolent drug offenses" at least twice. Do you remember what Howard said? He definitely held out for states' rights on the medical marijuana issue.

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transferred to a place unknown by a form of intelligence unknown.
Apart from the unknowns, everything is obvious.
-- James P. Hogan, Giants Star
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