Time for Democrats to Rally Around Dean
NEW YORK--Barring some unforeseeable misstep, Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites) will be the Democratic nominee. Patrick Buchanan (news - web sites) thinks so. So does Al Gore (news - web sites), who acknowledged Dean's soar in the polls with this endorsement: "Whether it is inspiring enthusiasm at the grassroots, and promising to remake the Democratic Party as a force for justice and progress and good in America," said President Gore, "whether it is a domestic agenda that gets our nation back on track, or whether it is protecting us against terrorists and strengthening our nation in the world, I have come to the conclusion that one candidate clearly now stands out."
Straight up. It's time for the increasingly irrelevant influence of centrist-right Al From's Democratic Leadership Council to decide which is more important: keeping control of the Democrats or electing one to the presidency. Dean is the only contender with the cash, charisma and cajones to expel Generalissimo El Busho from the White House--but he needs a unified party to pull it off.
Bush spent $100 million to beat John McCain in the 2000 GOP primaries. (Kinko's must've really soaked him on those nasty faxes claiming that the Arizona senator had fathered an illegitimate child with an African-American prostitute.) Thanks to a unified Republican Party, Bush is running unopposed this time--and saving his projected $170 million war chest for a barrage of TV spots between September and November.
"Even if Dean, the former Vermont governor, is able to match Bush dollar for dollar, he would start the general election far behind the president," reports The Christian Science Monitor. "Bush is hoarding his cash until it is clear who the Democratic nominee will be, while Dean, who has raised more than $25 million so far, has to spend furiously just to win the nomination."
Unless he doesn't.
What if the other Democratic candidates came together at a joint press conference to announce that they were dropping out of the race to endorse Dean? If nothing else, cash-starved states would love it--the average primary costs taxpayers $7 million. More to the point, it would save Dean roughly $75 million--enough to close the money gap with Bush.
A more ephemeral but bigger benefit would be the message that a unified Democratic party could send to the electorate. Canceling the primaries would convey that Democrats are no longer a clumsy amalgamation of special interests. We're organized, it would say. Fear provides plenty of impetus for our new single-mindedness. We're afraid of George Bush--so afraid that we ought to set aside our normal partisan bickering. Our great country has been through a lot, but it may not survive another four years of reckless wars based on lies and fought without a plan, a giant sucking sound stealing millions of jobs overseas or trillions of dollars in unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthy.
Rich or poor, black or white, liberal or conservative, anyone who loves America must set aside their usual biases and prejudices to open their eyes to the truth: Bush is not just a Republican. Not only is his radical "neoconservative" Administration illegitimate, it is neofascist. Patriots must support the candidate with the best chance of defeating him, whoever he is. That man is Howard Dean.
The outcome of the Democratic primaries is now a foregone conclusion. Why should Dean and his fellow Democrats waste more than $100 million between them--some estimates rise as high as $150 million--to beat each other up over relatively minor differences of policy and tone? The DNC ought to read the business pages. Ours is an age of monopoly and amalgamation. Bigger wins over better except when better happens to also be big. Divided Democrats can't beat unified Republicans.
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