(Take Two of These and Win Me an Election)
As likable loser Dr. Howard Dean rolls up his sleeves and takes over stewardship of the Democratic National Committee, he must know he inherits a sad flock of baying, directionless sheep wanting desperately for a shepherd. A pitiful, doe-eyed lot who don’t understand what’s happened to them and just want desperately for someone to guide them to safety.
I can say that only because I’m one of the sheep.
We lost that election and we’re still reeling. How could we have lost that election? That re-elected sonovabitch in office gets creepier and worse every single day of the month and our best and brightest are talking about clever ways to expatriate and we don’t know what to do.
Serious self-examination. The entire left-leaning nation is stroking its chin, pacing the room, tearing out its hair trying to understand. You can very nearly see the steam coming out of its ears. What could possibly have led us to these ends? Something must be fundamentally broken deep within the core of the party, or within the system itself, if we can’t run a candidate capable of winning that election.
What do we do, Dr. Dean?
There are a million desperate ideas being bandied about Liberal Nation. Nominate a Southern governor because only governors win. Consider changing the party’s holy dogma on issues like states’ rights, gun control, the draft, and abortion to win votes in Middle America and the South. Fight to change the electoral model, or to enact campaign finance reform. Fight dirtier.
Some of these issues may merit a look. Some may have been planted by zealous right-wing operatives bent upon the utter ruin of liberals everywhere. I don’t know. But as long as wing nuts from all walks are firing off ideas on how to fix the party, let me pile on my two-cents worth. Two modest, reasonable ideas that Dr. Dean may be uniquely qualified to tackle.
Find Someone to Back Beyond Hillary
There is a prominent voice booming deep from within Liberal Nation that believes it’s a fait accompli that Hillary Clinton will be the party’s nominee for president in 2008. That she’s the Democrats’ best, only superstar, and as such represents the best shot at the White House.
The only national figure potentially more polarizing than George W. Bush may be Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has such a powerfully galvanizing effect on the right. Republicans across the board hate her, as they hate all things Clinton. Like the Hatfields hate the McCoys. Like Red Sox fans hate the Yankees. Like the Grinch hates the Whos. The war-mongering, faith-based bastards would rally to the “Beat Hillary” banner harder and faster than Democrats did to the “Beat Bush” wagon. You can be absolutely sure of that. The GOP is practically licking its lips at the prospects of a Hillary campaign. Karl Rove is drooling.
And what does Hillary get you that John Kerry didn’t? Take a real hard look at that electoral map and tell me where Hillary is going to win that Kerry did not.
Beyond her chances of electability, the real truth about Hillary is she just isn’t, on her own merits, a candidate to be truly excited about. She doesn’t stand for anything remarkable; she doesn’t have any particularly new or exciting ideas. She’s positioning herself very moderately on the Senate Arms Services Committee. Yeah, she’s a woman, and it would be great to elect a woman. But that’s not enough.
In the entire Democratic Party there has to be someone else. Someone worthy who doesn’t carry the negative baggage of a Hillary. Someone with a more potential upside and a less glaring downside. Someone with vision for the future and not just ties to a not-too-distant past we perhaps remember a little more fondly than we should.
Dean is someone outside of that Clintonian school. He should be open to exploring other avenues. Find some interesting Democrats and put some party resources behind them. Put them in the spotlight and help them to get recognized nationally.
They hate her like Boss Hogg hates the Dukes of Hazard.
Get Out the Youth Vote or Die
This is what you do, Dr. Dean. This is where your grassroots ideals and your appeal to younger voters pay off.
After specifically targeting the youth vote in the last election, the nation saw no discernable spike in that demographic’s voting results. The Rock the Vote initiatives didn’t rock shit.
Maybe glamming it up isn’t the answer. All those foxy Hollywood types aren’t getting kids to the polls. Maybe there’s another way to appeal to the younger generation that, as crazy as it may sound, doesn’t involve Puffy or Springsteen.
Young people want to make a difference. They want to be a part of something larger than themselves; they want to do something important. They’re not all the dirty, unmotivated slackers some believe them to be.
Use the Internet, use your grassroots savvy, and get to that demographic, Dr. Dean. Make them understand the power they have and make them understand how important it is to exercise it. Appeal to their sense of duty. Shame them. Bribe them. Trick them. Do whatever it takes to get them to vote.
This generation can be the generation that reclaimed the democracy … that swung an election back to the sensible side. We’re not asking them to liberate Europe or rebuild after an epic Great Depression. We’re asking this generation to get to the polls and exercise its right to vote. We’re asking them to put forth very little effort to actually, tangibly change the world. That could be their mark. It could be what they go down for. It could be.
Get young voters organized at the grassroots level. Get them young and get them involved. High schools, colleges, youth groups, the Internet. You know where these kids are, Dr. Dean. Get them to the polls.
It would help the Democrats and, more importantly, it would help the country. Which, after all, is what this is supposed to be all about.
Copyright 2005, Matt McCarthy
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.