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Monday, January 12, 2004

Is Howard Dean unelectable? - Part Two

I am indebted to Tom Watson MP for drawing my attention to a fascinating American blog run by somebody who is organising events for Howard Dean. Bryan draws attention to a feisty article by Arianna Huffington on Tompaine.com in which she defends the electability of the Democrat frontrunner. "Dean", she says, "is electable precisely because he's making a decisive break with the spinelessness and pussyfooting that have become the hallmark of the Democratic Party." She goes on "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."

It is not an entirely convincing argument but it is spirited and passionate. Isn't that what is missing from politics? Her most important point draws attention to Dean's main electoral asset. "young people have been the spark that has lit the fuse of the Dean campaign. As he pointed out this 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 running, as he put it, "a campaign based on addition, not subtraction. We want to add new people to the Democratic Party so that we can beat George Bush. It's the only way we can beat him."

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