February 11, 2005
THE PROCESS PARTY:
For Dean's movement, an unlikely inspiration (Nina J. Easton, February 11, 2005, Boston Globe)
As Howard Dean's presidential campaign sputtered to closure one year ago, the candidate and a half dozen trusted aides began gathering in his Burlington, Vt., office, scribbling ideas on a white board about where to channel the fierce voter and donor energy that had already become his legacy to the Democratic Party.
Within weeks, the former Vermont governor concluded that he needed to reach back in history and borrow a page from a grass-roots movement that most of his supporters revile -- the Christian Coalition.
Fourteen years after the Rev. Pat Robertson's failed Republican presidential bid morphed into the Christian Coalition, Dean copied the TV evangelist by launching a political action committee to field and financially support scores of like-minded candidates across the country, for offices from town clerk to Congress. The network helped convince Democratic state-party representatives to back Dean for his party's most prominent job: chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Now, as DNC delegates gather in Washington for an election tomorrow that will almost certainly make Dean the next party chairman, the Dean team hopes the candidates he backed in 2004 can seed a movement to tug his party away from the center, as evangelicals succeeded in doing inside the GOP in the early 1990s.
As a coalition party, it's natural that the Democrats have no core principles around which to unify, but that does leave them susceptible to the delusion that if they can just get the process right all will be right with their world. The conservative movement/Christian Coalition prevailed because of its ideas, not merely because of its organizational skills. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2005 12:44 PM