February 20, 2005
Democrats' Grass Roots Shift the Power: Activists Energized Fundraising, but Some Worry They Could Push Party to Left (Dan Balz, February 20, 2005, Washington Post)
At a minimum, say party strategists, the shift will mean a more confrontational Democratic Party in battles with President Bush and the Republicans. But some strategists worry that the influence of grass-roots activists could push the party even further to the left, particularly on national security, reinforcing a weakness that Bush exploited in his reelection campaign.
It was Dean during the presidential primaries who argued that it was time for the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" to reassert itself, an implicit criticism of strategies that guided President Bill Clinton in his battles with Republicans in the 1990s. Clinton recently warned Democrats not to assume that the policies he pursued are incompatible with a vibrant, progressive wing of the party.
As Dean takes the helm as party chairman, Democrats now face a competition between what might be called the Dean model and the Clinton model, between confrontation and triangulation. This amounts to a contest between a bold reassertion of the party's traditional philosophy that fits the polarized environment of the Bush presidency vs. a less provocative effort to balance core values with centrist ideas that proved successful in the 1990s but has since produced a backlash within the party.
Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States twice. Howard Dean couldn't beat John Kerry in the Democratic Iowa caucuses. the choice of models doesn't seem difficult. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2005 11:35 AM