Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I watched former Vermont Governor Howard Dean address the Democratic Convention last night, and as founder of Stay-at-Home Dads for Dean, I feel the need to post a few thoughts.

First, the long, sustained, thunderous applause as Dean walked onto the stage was simply amazing.  I've watched most of the major speeches at the convention, and I must say that it had to have been the longest standing ovation given to any of the speakers (including Carter, Clinton and Gore).  It was also a bit sad to see the obvious enthusiasm and gratefulness the delegates and attendees had for him, to know that he will not be President (at least this year), and to wonder about what could have been.  {sigh}

Second, I thought he gave a good speech (video available here).  It wasn't the best one of his that I've heard, but I think it was effective and heartfelt.

And, finally, I'd like to just say thank you to Governor Dean.  Although I've been a bit of a political junkie since high school, I had not been very enthusiastic about Presidential races the past couple elections (the whole lesser of two evils thing).  I had been registered as an unafilliated voter (what they call independents here in Maryland), and had never voted for a Democractic Presidential candidate in my life.  Then I caught some of the early buzz on the web about this guy from Vermont.

I was seriously following Dean's campaign by March last year.  By June I was hosting Dean MeetUps; during the summer I became a leader helping to organize his campaign locally; in August I took the plunge and registered, for the first time, as a Democrat (had to in order to vote in the primary election); in September I started raising money for his campaign (something else I had never done - my only previous campaign contribution was $35 to John McCain in 2000); I continued to volunteer locally through the Fall; and in January I drove to New Hampshire to join over 3,000 other Dean volunteers in the fight to win the nation's first primary.

The Dean campaign was an amazing experience, and the people I met and volunteered with were an inspiration.  And I think that Howard Dean, even though he lost the race, made an indelible mark on this country's politics in three ways:
  1. Instead of campaigning for the swing vote, or even the Democratic base (as is usually done in during the primary season), Dean chose to target those who were not part of the equation, those who felt left out of the process and abandoned by both parties, and especially the young voters.  If I recall the stats correctly, nearly half of Dean's record-shattering fundraising was done by people under the age of 30 (utterly unheard of in national politics).
  2. His campaign was the embodiment of campaign finance reform.  660,000 supporters signed up; 250,000 donors; and an average campaign contribution of about $100 (also completely unheard of in national politics).  No special interest or PAC money either (the volunteers used to carry signs that read "I am Howard Dean's special interest!").
  3. And, of course, never before had technology been used to such an extent in a Presidential race.  The first Presidential campaign blog, text messaging, and innovative software and web-based tools for volunteers to use to run the local campaign without direction from campaign HQ, among other things.

So, I hope Governor Dean sticks around for a while... just in case the political establishment (of both parties) forgets that it is the citizens of this great country who hold the real power.

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