While Sen. John Kerry stumped around blue states with a rather bland agenda during the 2004 Democratic primaries, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean had captured the imagination and idealism of America’s youth. His no bullshit, less pandering approach convinced the more liberal Democrats that it was time for change… that speaking out against President Bush’s failed and corrupt policies was both good politics and morally sound.This excitement and hopefulness came to an abrupt halt, however, because of a momentary rush of excitement that was over-analyzed and unfairly treated by the media. Dean’s now infamous ‘yelp’ had officially ended his campaign for the presidency. Despite my disgust over voters who feel a one-time shriek is less forgivable than lying to put American troops into combat, most of us young liberals were thankful for the time Dean shared with us.
Little did we know that Howard Dean would reenter the national scene so quickly. Just a few short months after the 2004 elections, in February 2005, Howard Dean was selected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (despite reservations from many of the Washington elite). His new position at national headquarters would include a function beyond fundraising and handshaking… he was setting out a new vision for the Democratic Party.
Upon taking office, Dean criticized the Party’s focus on Blue and Purple (swing) states at the cost of completely ignoring Red states. Because copious amounts of money was poured into battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado were rarely if ever visited by Democratic presidential candidates and received little help from the DNC.
In comes Howard Dean and the “50 State Plan”. Dean realized, and continues to understand, that many poor white southerners are voting against their own interests because they somehow see the GOP as the party of GOD. Absurd as it seems, Dean and his allies realize that overturning this ill-conceived notion of Republicans-as-Christ could go a long way towards rebuilding the party in the South and West. After-all, does it really make sense that rural southerners are voting for the Republicans who gave tax-cuts to the super-rich, billions of dollars to a failed Iraq war policy and botched both response and recovery after Hurricane Katrina?
Howard Dean and his allies realize southerners should not be voting Republican, and that issues like same-sex marriage, flag-burning and English as the official language should not outweigh issues that promote the health and well-being of their families and country.
Southern states are most definitely winnable, but it will take a vision that extends beyond 2006 and 2008. As a recent New York Times Magazine article points out, Howard Dean’s 50 state vision is quite controversial among Democratic insiders. Dean has his allies, but he also has his enemies (or opponents, to put it more tactfully). His opponents ask why Dean is providing funds for additional campaign staff in Alaska when there are much more competitive districts in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. On its face, it seems to make little to no sense, but Dean truly has a vision for the party.
His vision includes building a Democratic party that may be willing to take minor setbacks right now in order to strengthen itself for the future. Democrats may not win Alaska in the next few years, but with a strong ground campaign they could succeed in 2012 (especially if Republicans remain as arrogant as they currently are). Although his critics believe it is important to win elections to build the party, the Clinton era proved that winning big elections means nothing to the long-term success of the party. America currently has a federal government dominated by conservatives – the legislative branch, executive branch and even the judicial branch (look at Bush v. Gore, for example). And this is right after one of the Democratic party’s most popular presidents left office (so much for party-building via winning elections).
Howard Dean wants to prove that the Democratic party is the values party, not Republicans. While GOP tax cuts help the rich, middle and lower class Americans continue to struggle with rising healthcare costs and the threat of “privatized” social security. It is time for Democrats to stand up to the Republican party’s claim on so-called “values”, and in the long-term Democrats can win the reddest of the red states. It will take time, and defeat could be a temporary result, but the Democratic party will never return to its heyday unless it plans for the future instead of just the next election.
"Howard Dean to the Rescue..."-Jayne Lyn Stahl:
Today, President Bush argued that Democrats have a "softer side" when it comes to fighting terrorism.
Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee, responded to the president's boast that his party has more staying power by saying: "What's softer than giving up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and ignoring the 16 intelligence agencies who told him that the war in Iraq is making us less safe at home and around the world?
It's time for the truth. All the tough talk in the world cannot hide the fact that President Bush and his GOP Congress's bad decisions have hurt America's security."
Indeed, we agree with Howard Dean, though it would certainly appear as if Republicans have a much harder, and stiffer approach; at least, from reading Rep. Foley's e-mails. Clearly, nobody can ever accuse this administration of having a flaccid foreign policy. In fact, if nothing else, the past six years with Bush, Cheney, and Rummy at the helm have shown that even the defense department is capable of overdosing on Viagra.
"Analysis: Democrats not charging ahead"-Liz Sidoti(AP:
Usually out front in force, national Democrats expressed outrage over the Mark Foley scandal and its aftermath but largely let their candidates and allied groups do the tough talking.
Party leaders showed restraint as Republicans beat up each other amid accusations of a less-than-agressive initial response into flirtatious e-mails the GOP congressman sent to teenage male pages.
"There's no need for Democrats to drive this," said James Ruvolo, a former state Democratic Party chairman in Ohio, a state with hard-fought House and Senate races.
Foley abruptly resigned last week as reports surfaced of sexually explicit instant messages he had written to boys, setting off infighting among House Republicans about whether they did enough to address the tawdry situation.
The scandal continued to unfold Wednesday when Kirk Fordham resigned as chief of staff to Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., and later disclosed that he told House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office more than three years ago about worrisome conduct by Foley. Hastert's office swiftly denied the accusation.
In the minority, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are known for setting the tone for their rank-and-file by hammering Republicans on the issue of the day, even when Congress is not in session.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean have issued a handful of written statements. The topics: Congress has a moral obligation to protect children, Republican leaders covered up Foley's behavior and investigations are warranted.
For the most part, the leaders have avoided commenting publicly. Pelosi, D-Calif., has been the exception. She introduced a resolution on the House floor Friday and has spoken about the scandal when asked at public events on other issues.
Also largely absent from the daily discourse on Foley — the seemingly ever-present Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (news, bio, voting record), D-Ill., who lead the party's campaign committees. It's rare for the pair to turn down an opportunity to add their two cents.
If Democrats go too far, "they run the risk of doing what the Republicans are already guilty of, which is worrying more about what the political ramifications are instead of about the fact that what happened, happened," said Ken Snyder, a Democratic consultant in Pennsylvania, home to several competitive House and Senate races.
So, Democrats have sought to strike a balance — emphasizing the protection of children, expressing disgust at Foley's behavior, and criticizing Republicans' response to it while trying not to be overly aggressive. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have not called for Hastert's resignation.
Nevertheless, Democratic leadership staffs are active behind the scenes, working to keep the media aware of the latest developments in the scandal and pointing out inconsistencies in Republican versions of events.
The GOP has started accusing the opposition party of seeking political gain by leaking Foley's e-mails and instant messages. "It's absolutely not true," Pelosi says.
"The Democrats have to be awful careful not to overplay this," Rep. Tom Cole (news, bio, voting record), a Republican from Oklahoma, said. "I don't think the defenders of Bill Clinton and Gerry Studds can all of a sudden become the moral paradigms on Capitol Hill. They run the risk of looking hypocritical."
The two Democrats were scarred by sex scandals.
Of Democrats in general, Cole said: "If I were them, I would stay out of it and let the media focus on it ... You can always count on the Democrats to overreach."
Outside Washington, Democratic congressional candidates are seizing on the scandal to argue that voters should put them in charge of the House and Senate on Nov. 7. Democrats need to gain 15 House seats and six Senate seats to win control.
Several Democrats in competitive races have called for Hastert to resign — and challenged their Republican opponents to do the same — while accusing the highest rungs of the GOP leadership of putting political interests above all else.
Republican leaders maintain they did nothing wrong.
Patty Wetterling, a Democrat running for an open House seat in Minnesota, is airing a hard-hitting television ad charging that Republicans "knowingly ignored the welfare of children to protect their own power."
A candidate whose son disappeared 17 years ago, Wetterling will deliver the Democratic response to President Bush's radio address on Saturday. Her address will focus on protecting children, including Internet safety.
In the meantime, Democratic allies also are pressuring Republicans.
American Family Voices, an independent nonprofit group run by a former aide to President Clinton, made recorded phone calls Tuesday and Wednesday to voters in congressional districts of 50 Republican incumbents, including Rep. John Boehner (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio and others in tough congressional races, demanding resignations of Hastert and other leaders.
"Congressman Mark Foley was shielded by Republican leaders for at least nine months after they knew Foley was trying to seduce a 16 year-old boy, a congressional page," the recorded calls say. "Call Congressman (name of member and phone number) and demand he stop the cover-up. The answer is arrests, resignations and a new congressional leadership"
Another pro-Democratic group, FaithfulDemocrats.com, collected signatures from 29 members of the clergy on a letter calling for the "repentance and resignation of all members of Congress who knew about Mr. Foley's misdeeds yet failed to stop them."