“...and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! YEEEAAAAAAHH!”
It took four years to complete the treatment, but Howard Dean was right on the money with his diagnosis and prescription.
Lost in all the praise being heaped on the Obama Team is the fact that they won the election on the back of the "50-State Strategy" Dean shoved down the DNC's throat and his pioneering online fundraising model.
Back in 2005, thanks to a massive netroots movement—and against the "better judgement" of just about every expert and political guru at the time—Howard Dean took over as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and began the arduous and thankless job of pissing people off and rebuilding the Democratic Party.
Throwing aside the major race, big-donor, blue- and swing-state-only strategies of his predecessor Terry McAulliffe, Dean was determined to build grassroots support using a small-donor model and a 50-state farm system. No race in any state was to be left uncontested. Money would be localized and doled out to be used for every race—even against the longest odds in the reddest places. He was openly mocked by the Democratic establishment, and opposed by many big players in Washington: Pelosi, Reid, Schumer and Rahm Emmanuel among them:
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is leading the party's effort to regain majority status in the House, stormed out of Dean's office several days ago leaving a trail of expletives, according to Democrats familiar with the session.
The blowup highlights a long-standing tension that has pitted Democratic congressional leaders, who are focused on their best opportunities for electoral gains this fall, against Dean and many state party chairmen, who believe that the party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up -- even in states that have traditionally been Republican strongholds.
[link] ...Howard Dean's campaign for chairman of the DNC in 2005 truly panicked the Beltway insiders who mounted a failed attempt to stop him. Soon after, Dean embarked on his 50-state strategy, which had given party insiders conniption fits. In his campaign, Dean insisted that the Democratic Party was never going to get its mojo back unless it stopped being a triaging, pollster-driven operation, collecting money from big donors and parachuting in outsiders to focus only on key "swing" states, while starving the rest of the party's political infrastructure nationwide.
The Clinton relics had particular fun at Dean's expense:
Paul Begala: Dean's plan [is] "just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose."
James Carville: Dean's leadership at the DNC "almost Rumsfeldian in its incompetence."
Incompetent? You python-faced bullshit artist—in 2005, Howard Dean raised 50% more cash than McAulliffe did in 2003—going into a Presidential election year. In 2004, the pre-Dean DNC burned over $200 million and were left with nothing to show for it—Kerry lost, governors lost, and they lost seats in both houses of Congress. But even worse, was the fact that by running a top-down D.C.-centered campaign that sent in temp help as races wound down, the Party was left with nothing on the ground. No organizations, no field offices and no younger minor league candidates ready for the next race.
Getting ready for 2006's midterms, rather than hoard money in Washington or wait until the cycle was rolling to tap big donors, Dean raised cash off the internet hand over fist and sent it all out to state party chairs, drawing the ire of the old guard. Power was being shifted from the closed-circuit, in-bred rotation of D.C. hacks that had been getting their asses handed to them ever since 1994.
Aside from nominating a far better candidate and a better potential President, perhaps the biggest fringe benefit of Hillary Clinton losing with her team of retreads (Penn, Ickes, McAulliffe, etc.) was their marginalization in the party. Win or lose in November, they would have squandered and misused everything Dean built over the last four years, and likely set the party back for years. Let Ickes spout all the crap he wants on FOX News, so long as he's never behind the wheel of another Dem campaign.
It was on Dean's watch that Democrats regained control of Congress in 2006, and administered this year's ass-kicking sweep. He deserves our never-ending thanks—and his detractors deserve a shit sandwich.
Dean's term as DNC Chair expires in January, and the battle to see who takes his place begins. There's been talk of Senator Claire McCaskill taking the reins, but that's a mistake—despite our gains, we just lost two good Senators in Obama and Biden, and there may be others moving to Cabinet posts, etc. There should be no unnecessary poaching of Senators to fill slots like this. Besides, what does McCaskill bring to the table here?
The best man for the job is the guy who just perfected and executed Dean's 50-State Strategy—blowing past not just the GOP, but the Clinton Machine as well—Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe.
Make it so, Mr President-Elect.
UPDATE: And no matter what—No. Harold. Ford.
Excellent photos I've waited years to use by Jethro Soudant—hope you don't mind. "Hi" to fellow Deaniac Shasti and Ruby...