Plus, as much as I hate to admit it, the movement of Dean is incredibly limited. Sometimes we forget this. We generally surround ourselves with like minded people. So as you, Cos, who is awesome and incredibly involved, attend all the DFA meetings in the state (or so it seems) and all the PD meetings, you start to see only the progressives. You forget about the incredibly rigid and stagnant town committees and state committee that still dominate our state. (Just think of Somerville, the same people run the machine there as have for a decade or more.) Our job, and we are doing great at it, is to spread the movement but the reality is we have a LONG way to go. We can continue as progressives generally do, myself included, pretending that we are on some meteoric rise but to do so only creates false hope and a false sense of accomplishment. It also sets us up for big disappointment as time passes and we realize that progress is not being gained.
While it might not seem it from my comments and my posts, I am an eternal optimist. I believe more in what is possible in politics and people. JFK taught me to hope for a better tomorrow but also reminds me that it is a struggle to get there. For all of my hope I try to balance it with reality. Dean did not win but this does not mean we don’t have great lessons to learn for the successes his campaign did have and I am happy to see, as our dialouge here and BMG in general shows us, that we are learning those lessons. But the biggest lesson to learn is that his complete strategy was not a winning one and should not be replicated in whole, in part maybe, but not in whole.
As for the changes you challenge me to lay out I have many. The biggest in my opinion is ideas. I think progressives and Democrats win when the debate is for ideas. Unfortunately I think we are relying on tired and used ideas. This is a new century, a new millenium with problems we have not faced. This means new ideas, not updated ideas. Social security is an idea from a generation ago to deal with a problem that does not fully exist. Let us dare to dream anew; let us be thankful for the solutions of those who came before us but recognize that the problems are not the same so the solutions must not be either. We need to reconnect to academia to find these solutions. We need to retap the brain power in this country and challenge them. A long time ago this party stood for the preposterous proposition that we could eradicate poverty. We did not but how amazing was the journey in trying? We were the party that had the improbable idea to land a man on the moon and then bring him back. With ideas like these we got an entire country to look inward and use all its best talents to tackle these challenges. When we challenge America to dream and think I believe Democrats win not only elections but we win as a country because we are putting our best foot forward.
I also would suggest that Democrats change the tone. One of the best parts of Bob’s original post his dedication to the best idea, whomever it may come from. Washington used to be a place dedicated to finding the best solution; it was partisan to be sure, but the object of the partisanship was not scorched earth but instead a dedication to finding a real solution. Democrats and Republicans want wins, they want to run up the score as often as possible and be damned to the consequences of total victory. We cannot achieve what we set out to when the destruction of our enemy is our goal. Dems and Reps have lost sight of the undeniable fact that as sure as the seasons change no one stays in political power forever. Being mindful of this those in power should take advantage of the country’s stamp of approval on their ideas but also remember that when that approval is over the minority party they have been trampling on will only want to give back twofold. We need to be the “bigger man” and step back from the edge in this game of partisan brinksmanship. Moderation in tone, liberal in ideas.
Finally we need to find new blood. We cannot let ONE RACE go uncontested from school board to US Senator; each of those positions is of equal importance for they both serve the same function: representative to the people. While we cannot fund and back every race to the degree we want we need to rely on the net roots and grassroots to support these candidates. We need to rely on sites like BMG to not only be a clearinghouse of information on the candidates but also fundraising tools to help direct, as was the case with Dean’s campaign, small contributions that will, in total, be big bucks. We want to get our neighbors and friends involved by reminding them that civic engagement makes us all better; civic engagement can create communities where there were none and strenghten communities that already exist. We may find ourselves in a perpetual cmapaign but that is not bad if the campaigns are about they should be: ideas and betterment. Would any of us think it is bad to be engaged in a constant discussion of ideas and how to better our communities? I think considering that is largely what political blogs are about!
The challenge to us then, to those of us who are pumped and people like you Cos who are wired in and motivated, is to not only fight our battles behind these screens but also to make sure that we are coming together personally by volunteering and being active in campaigns and causes. I have been too lax on this myself. I am ready for action and eager for a fight. By organizing online and on the streets we stand to be the most amazing wave of civic re-engagement history will ever know; we will resemble the revolutions past and we will truly change not only Democratic politics but the country in the process. I think that is what Cos and Bob and everyone else has been saying and with that Bob is right, we really don’t disagree at all.