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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paging Dr. Dean

Just a few days after the elections, Dr. Howard Dean has announced he will step down as Chair of the DNC. In a way, on Tuesday he kept his promise: he went to Maine, and Iowa, and Indiana, and North Carolina, and Virginia, and Florida, and Ohio, and Colorado and the Democrats took back the White House YEEEEEAAAAARGH! I've been a big booster of Dean's 50 state strategy, and I think that it was a major building block in both Obama's huge victory AND in the huge gains Democrats have made in the House and Senate. Sure, Obama ran a nearly perfect camapaign, and a lond Democratic Primary forced him to go to almost every state and campaign hard for a long long time, and the Republicans did nothing but help by messing up for almost eight straight years and then putting George Bush's long lost twin sister on the Presidential ticket (twins, like diarhea, run in the Bush genes!) Dean's policy of putting Democratic operations in each and every state has demystified the Demcratic party in places where it was nigh invisible.

Think of why Republicans get almost no votes in big cities. It's not because 95% of people in big cities think that national Democratic candidates are better than Republicans are, although they certainly are a majority. It's because Republicans have no presence there. In most cases, mast urban people have never had a Republican candidate for city council, mayor, school board, state legislature or Congress come to their house and shake their hand. The Republican Party is a mysterious entity, whose face is either George Bush, or Sarah Palin, people who are distinctly and vocally anti-urban. Democrats used to be like this in many swaths of rural America and some a lot of Sunbelt sprawl. Dean worked to change that.

Would Obama have won without Dean? I think almost certainly so. Would the Democrats have a majority in both Houses? I think so. But it would be narrower. The biggest gains have yet to be realized. Democrats have made big inroads in state legislatures since Dean became chair. This will bring a bumper crop of seats come redistricting time, and builds a strong bench of future candidates for national office.

Let's hope whoever Obama chooses for the job is as foresighted as Howard "Prometheus" Dean.

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