“Unelectable” my ass!

By Arianna Huffington
Tribune Media Services
I swear, if I hear one more Democratic honcho say that Howard Dean is not electable, I’m going to do something crazy. 

The contention is nothing short of idiotic.
Consider the source: the folks besmirching the Good Doctor’s Election Day viability are the very people who have driven the Democratic
Party into irrelevance. Who spearheaded the party’s resounding 2002 midterm defeats? Who kinda, sorta, but not really disagreed with
President Bush as he led us down the path of preemptive war with Iraq, irresponsible tax cuts, and an unprecedented deficit?
Dean is electable precisely because he’s making a decisive break with the spinelessness and pussyfooting that have become the
hallmark of the Democratic Party.
So, please, no more hand-wringing about Dean being “another George McGovern,” whose 1972 annihilation haunts the 2004
Democratic primaries like a political Jacob Marley, shaking his chains and warning about the Ghost of Landslides Past.
There is a historical parallel to Dean’s candidacy. But it’s not McGovern in 1972, as the DLC-paranoiacs would like us to believe – it’s Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
Like Kennedy, Dean’s campaign was initially fueled by his anti-war outrage. Like Kennedy, Dean has found himself fighting
not just to represent the Democratic Party but to remake it. Like Kennedy, Dean is offering an alternative moral vision for America,
not just an alternative political platform.
And like Kennedy, Dean has come under withering attack from his critics for the very attributes that his supporters find most attractive.
“He could be intemperate and impulsive . . . the image of wrath – his forefinger pointing, his fist pounding his palm, his eyes ablaze.”
Sean Hannity on Howard Dean? No, Theodore White on Bobby Kennedy in “The Making of the President 1968.”
It’s the same ludicrous charge of being “too angry” that’s constantly leveled at Dean. Have his Democratic opponents – and the notoriously
decorous Washington press corps – suddenly morphed into Miss Manners? Personally, I could never trust a man who does not occasionally
get hot under the collar.
Of course Dean is angry. Take a look at what’s happening in Iraq, with 39 soldiers dead and over 200 wounded since Saddam
was dragged out of his spider hole. And take a look closer to home, with 12 million children living in poverty, 43 million people
without health insurance, only one in seven working poor families having access to affordable child care, record levels of personal debt,
and more and more U.S. jobs being “outsourced” overseas. If you still have a pulse – are you listening Joe Lieberman? – you should be royally pissed.
“I have traveled and I have listened to the young people of our nation,” Kennedy said during his announcement speech,
“and felt their anger about the war that they are sent to fight and about the world they are about to inherit.”
And young people have been the spark that has lit the fuse of the Dean campaign. As he pointed out last weekend in Iowa:
“One-quarter of all the people who gave us money between June and September were under 30 years old.” So while the
Democratic establishment is once again dusting off its tried-and-untrue swing voter strategy, Dean is bringing new people into the Democratic Party.
Kennedy was drawn into the ’68 race by his indignation over the direction of America’s foreign policy.
“This nation,” he said, “must adopt a foreign policy which says, clearly and distinctly, ‘no more Vietnams.’”
Dean has been saying, clearly and distinctly, no more Iraqs, even when 70 percent of the public said they approved of Bush’s policy.
That’s leadership – and the kind of boldness the Democratic Party has been sorely lacking.
In the same way that Kennedy was able to take his outrage over Vietnam and expand it to include the outrages perpetrated at home,
Dean has gone from railing against the war to offering a New Social Contract for America’s Working Families that harkens back to the
core message of FDR: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether
we provide enough for those who have too little.”
It’s a message that Bobby Kennedy made central to his campaign but which the Democratic Party has since abandoned.
Howard Dean has resurrected it and made it his own because, as he says, 2004 “is not just about electing a president – it’s about changing America.”
That is a big vision. But anything smaller guarantees the reelection of George Bush. 
Arianna Huffington’s e-mail address is arianna(AT)ariannaonline.com.
© 2004 Arianna Huffington.
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