Letter to Atlantic Monthly - Why Dean Lost
posted May 5, 2004 at 10:39PM
I am someone who strongly supported Howard Dean and the potential for positive change in the US. As such I read with great interest Paul Maslin's article on why Dean lost. I could not disagree more with his conclusions.
The reason Dean went down so easily is becasue he was very poorly served by his campaign staff, of which Maslin was a key part of. In Dean they had a populist, and by American standards, unconventional politician who threatened real change to the status quo. This real threat for change was symbolized by his unconventional campaign tactics which allowed him to manouvre outside the control of that status quo.
Dean's campaign staff seemed to have been caught completely off-guard and failed to anticipate the attacks of the status quo media and Democratic Party when of course a competent staff would have understood they were all all but garanteed.
At the first hint of pressure they immediately folded. Instead of embracing the reality that Dean was a passionate man willing to give strong emotional voice to an integrated belief system, they capitulated and immediately tried to make Dean look like just any other moderate speaking, stale, safe "establishment" politician. And suddenly Dean found himself fighting Kerry on Kerry's own terms
It is no surprise that the status quo media and Democratic party machine would go out of their way to attack those aspects of Howard Dean which were his strengths. By thier actions the campaign staff basically were telling everyone that they agreed with CNN and Novak and Tucker, that Dean's strengths WERE weaknesses.
Of course the outcome was easily foreseen. If an "establishment" nominee was what was most desired...then obviouly Dean was not the man to go for.
In short Dean's campaing staff did not really "get it". They did not know who Dean was, what he stood for...or even who they themselves were. Like peasant rebels, the Dean staff, by force of circumstance, used guerrilla tactics against a lumbering empire with great success. But like a lot of stupid peasants, they really didn't know what they were doing, and thought these sucesses would allow them (the peasants) to fight the Empire on the Empire's own terms.
Like all peasants who have tried this..they got oblterated in short order.