Thursday, 18 March 2004
I went and saw Howard Dean this morning. He kicked off the next phase of his grassroots organization here with a speech to a roomful of his faithful Seattle Deaniacs. I got there early enough to get a fairly decent seat, and I sat and sipped my coffee while I waited.
It was interesting to observe the crowd. My neighbors were all friendly, there were people selling buttons and the Dean Deck guy was there. He had some new stuff this time - another set of cards showing Wall Street's Most Wanted and a t-shirt with Bu$h dressed as a joker. I already have the Dean Deck, and funny as the t-shirt was I knew I'd never wear it. I just waited.
If you want to read the essence of the speech Dean gave, you can find it here. He's turning his organization, Dean for America, into a grassroots organizing group. Essentially, the purpose is first to put the Democratic candidate in the White House come November, and also help elect as many like-minded people to office at all levels throughout the country. He intends to keep the focus on the issues that made his candidacy and got people like me actually involved. It's a really cool thing, if it works. I'm all for it. I do not in the slightest identify with the democrats in DC, but I am almost completely aligned with the progressive liberal values that Dean stands for.
Which reminds me. There is this thing lacking in our society today, and it's called community. I really noticed at this event how courteous and friendly people were. Every one of us in the room (with the possible or probable exception of the press corps) was there because this man reminded us that we are a community. We are responsible for each other, we should help one another and look out for one another. The current administration has ruled by fear and division, and the democrats in DC have done pretty much nothing to stop him. And that has contributed enormously to the destruction of our society.
I'm tired of the blame and the finger pointing and the utter lack of personal responsibility. It goes all the way up to the very top, where a man who has been in office for more than three years had the utter gall to blame the former administration for the current economy. He won't take any of the blame for the loss of three million jobs in the last three years, oh no, it's all Clinton's fault.
I don't think so.
I'm not saying this well. If you want better information, presented more coherently, go visit Value Judgment. They said it better, with links and everything.
So, Dean was a little late arriving. It was about 10 a.m. when Ray Minchew stepped on stage to introduce him, and as he spoke about what he's doing (here) I could feel the tears starting. I didn't actually start to cry until Dean came out and the crowd went wild, but once the tears began I couldn't stop. Just seeing him there, talking about what he's doing, and knowing that he wasn't giving up and going home to lick his wounds but rather he was continuing the fight for and with all of us, made me cry. The thing I get from Dean is a very real sense of hope, that it doesn't have to be like this and it won't remain this way. That we, the people, the poor and the disaffected, can have a voice again. He's created a place for us to join together and continue to fight for what we believe in.
It sounds hokey and starstruck, but I don't think so. I don't cry because he's so cool and amazing. My favorite authors might reduce me to gibbering, but they never make me cry. This man has touched a chord in me so fundamental to my sense of right and faith in the world that it just wells up and spills out. I've been involved in politics before, and I've always paid at least some attention to issues that matter to me. But never before in my entire life have I found a person who moved me this way. I believe in him, I believe he's honest and real and while I don't agree with everything he stands for, I believe he feels that way for reasons of right and good and truth, not political expediency or maneuvering. And that is something I've never before seen in any national-level politician.
Maybe it's because he never expected to be a national-level politician. His campaign took unexpected fire last summer, when he brought his message of change and hope not only to disaffected Democrats, but to non-party voters like me who couldn't stand either mainstream party. I was going to vote Libertarian this year, until I heard Dean last August. I am still not sure who I'm voting for come November, but I find it very interesting the the DNC and the DLC, now that their appointed candidate is the all-but-nominated candidate, are basically sitting back playing the same game that lost them the elections in 2002. Stupid fools.
Anyway, he said it himself in his speech. The people who painted his campaign as angry just never got it right. It's not about anger, it's about hope. I see him offering himself up as a lightning rod (thank you, Value Judgment for giving me the word I was searching for the other day) on all the issues that would give the Republicans a chance to crucify Kerry, but he's also remaining as the conscience of the Democratic party. He will not give up and go away, and he will continue to force attention on the things that really matter. I think he's working with Kerry on this. No, I don't think he'll be the choice for VP. He's much too useful doing what he does best: Calling people on their bullshit and keeping the focus on the issues the Republicans don't want to talk about.
I still have hope. I'm not happy about not having the best candidate I've ever seen on the ballot come November, but he's still out there focusing the election on what really matters. I don't know what he gets out of all this, besides the chance to be everyone's target, but he gives me more hope than I thought I could possibly have in this world.
Links to pictures from the event are here. I'm not in them, nor did I take them. I wish I'd had the time to stay and get my book autographed, but I had to get to work. Next time, right?
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