There once was a time when I never thought I would do this. During the presidential campaign, I never supported Dean. First, because I never thought he had a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election (and I still don't for that matter), and second, because through most of the primary campaign I believed he was wisely, but opportunistic seizing on the anti-war issue.
I supported Clark through the primaries and then when Kerry won the nomination I threw my support behind him and never looked back.
Somewhere along the line, however, I really came to believe in Howard Dean. I'm not sure where the switch came from. Maybe, with the hysteria of the primaries over, I had time to reevaluate the man through a less subjective lens. Or maybe because the Dailykos/Mydd crowd is chalk full of Deaniacs, avoiding coming to admire the guy was virtually unavoidable.
Nevertheless, the more familiar I've become with Howard Dean's message and objectives, the more conviced I've become that if he isn't the real thing, he close enough to it for me.
There's been all this rhetoric thrown around since that election about "Reform Democrats", and I admit that initially I was so down cast, I jump right on board with it.
When half the electorate seems to be living in a kind of political Nevernever Land, the media is effectively manipulated by a network of right-wing hacks, and all three national branches of government are under the control the opposing party, its easy to begin to think that there is no other option for taking out your frustration than on the party you support. But the fact is, I chosen to support Dean precisely because I don't consider myself part of that crowd anymore.
Dean has never been overly critical of the Democratic Party or its organization. He's said he supported the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, but that really doesn't come close to the kind of vitriolic rhetoric I've read about the Democrats in the blogosphere.
Sure, I believe the party's political operation needs to be modernized and it would be nice to have a bigger megaphone to compete with the Republicans with, but to me, that's not really reform. Its more like modernization.
To be honest, I really don't think the people calling for reform have the slightest idea of what their talking about. They just know they are sick of losing when they think they should be winning--and idea that, in view of the still continuing impact of 9/11 and the Republican Noise Machine's ability to leverage it, is a little silly.
To be honest with you, I like the Party. I'm proud of it. And I'm proud of John Kerry. I think he did a fine job during the campaign considering the hachet job the Swift boat liars did on him just before the RNC and the extraordinarily effective Bush Campaign he was up against. I'll always love the '89 Pistons, but even at their best, the early '90's Bulls would have torn them apart--and did.
Dean has never supported radically reforming the Party. Dean supporting reforming America. And he still does.
Consider the current state of affairs in this country. The domestic agenda in this country is completely controlled by the plutocrats who finance Republican campaigns. Our foreign policy is controlled by a bunch empirialist loony tunes who still, in opposition of all common sense, continue to believe that setting up a democracy in one Arab country is the silver bullet to all our problems with anti-Americanism. And the media of this country his been so hammered with criticism from the Right, they are willing to present any piece of conservative commentary they can find, no matter how silly and ill-conceived it may be, in their pursuit of "balance".
And those are just superficial problems wrapped up in ideology. There are fundamental problems inherent within American democracy which with each passing year allows the most cynical elements of our society to corrupt our political system.
For instance, there is not a single national deliberative body laid down by our constitution that is not seriously flawed. The House, because of the American tradition of single-member districting, has virtually gerrymandered direct democracy out of relevance--and it was supposed to be the most directly democratic of the two chambers. As to the Senate, the fact that because of a state of political affairs that existed two hundred years when our country was roughly comparable to a latin American country in its political development and society, Delaware and California both have two US Senators is all the argument I need to make. And as for the Electoral College, don't get me started.
The point is, under any traditional definition of reform, it is not the Democratic Party that needs it--or at least not in the radical sense that I've seen suggested--its the American political system that needs reform.
That's why I'm supporting Dean. The political operatives whose names are being thrown around right now--Rosenberg, Fowler, Webb--are fool's gold for the reformers, as is Dean if they're thinking he's going to make the kind of whole sale changes they'd like to see. The Party is more or less functional at this point--as much as any major political party will ever be.
The place reform really needs to occur is at some very fundamental levels within our political system, and we need a guy at the helm of the party who knows how to lead those kind of movements and to inspire those kind of activists. Tangible change is always reassuring to see, but I firmly believe that we've missed the forest for the trees on this one.
This party needs inspiration. This Party needs a catalyst that will tell it that America isn't a hopeless case and that the kind of just society we are seeking isn't a pipedream. That's what I think Dean will really bring to the DNC and that's why I'm supporting him.