01 October 2006

on the fifty state strategy

We interrupt the standard stream of architectural commentary for one of our periodic political posts. I know some readers may not be interested, but you'll just have to deal: the next five weeks will play a crucial role as this country decides whether or not to renew a commitment to the stale status quo that has been in place for the past six years. The midterm elections are on November 7, and they represent a chance for the Democrats to take back at least one house of Congress, thereby sending a clear message that enough is enough, that the present conduct of government is no longer acceptable. Much talk has been made of the similarities between this year's political climate and that of 1994, when the Gingrich-led Republican insurgency captured both the House and the Senate. Notwithstanding these seemingly favorable prospects for Democrats, there are nonetheless important differences between the Republicans of 1994 and the Democrats of 2006, and a Democratic takeover is far from certain.
I just read Matt Bai's article in today's New York Times Magazine, which delves into the trials and tribulations of Howard Dean and his efforts to rebuild the Democratic Party. Read it. Let me know what you think. It seems obvious to me that Dean's fifty state strategy is the only way to reinvent the Democratic Party as an effective and potentially victorious political force. It's a long-term vision that is not incompatible with electoral success this November, contrary to the claims of Dean's critics within the party. Its strength lies in its rejection of the red state / blue state dichotomy and the appropriation of time-tested Republican techniques of widespread, local organization. It makes sense to learn from those who win elections, and after 2000, 2002, and 2004, it's time for a change. Sure, Dean may be a "flawed visionary" (Bai's words), but he's a visionary nonetheless.

link: "The Inside Agitator" by Matt Bai, in the New York Times Magazine

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