I posted a diary about Howard Dean’s fears that we were losing the connection to our base, the grassroots.    One of the central points he made was that the loss of connection meant the loss of excitement and caring about politics.   Here is a snip,  and then I quote him to make another point.

From You Have the Power by Howard Dean 2004:
From page 158:

Without the involvement and commitment of people at the ground level, you don’t really have a party.  You have no pool from which to draw future congresspeople, senators, and presidents.  And you have no genuine excitement.
From page 163:

In recent years the Democrats, in our pursuit of big dollars, have neglected the people we’re there to serve.  We let our connection to our base atrophy and have forgotten, as they say in politics, who brought us to the dance.  In service to a falsely named “centrism,” we’ve sidestepped every major request from labor unions, especially on including worker protections in our free-trade agreements.

I thought I would add a few more quotes about the centrism that is so ever present in our party now.  I don’t mean the moderate center, where actually by far most of us really are.  I mean the centrism that is pushed in a false manner, catering to the more extreme right to win.  

I don’t think Howard Dean would mind my using a few more quotes from him.   He has to be more sedate and cautious now….much to my chagrin…I miss the old fiery spirit.  However, that is how it is.   But a few quotes won’t hurt, as I fear we are going in circles sometimes.  These quotes mostly refer to 2002, as the book came out in September 04.    

From page 77:

The Democrats, by using appeasement as a political strategy, have solidified the Republican hold on power.  Harry Truman once said: “When the voters are given the choice between voting for a Republican or a Democrat who acts like a Republican, they’ll vote for the Republican every time.”  

Our party made this come true in the 2002 midterm elections with dismaying results as, defying all expectations, the Republicans took control of the Senate, maintained their majority of governorships, and gained seats in the House.  It was the first time in history that the Republicans had gained strength in the House in a midterm election while their party also held the White House.

I will leave out some of the names mentioned, but just put the general idea he tried to get across.  

In 2002, the Democrats misjudged the mood of the electorate.  They thought they could get elected by playing it safe, moving to the middle, even by bragging that they’d voted with President Bush on most of his major legislative initiatives.

…”Democratic voters in 2002 didn’t want to election Republicans; they wanted Democrats with deep-seated principles.  One Democratic observer quoted by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr., put it well: “They seem to believe more in their ideas than we do in ours.”

Agree or disagree on 2002,  he made some valid points overall.    When you are standing up for the values of the other party, you are not connecting to your own base and grassroots.  

I hope that this year we are not again giving lip service to the falsely named “centrism” he mentions.   I see signs of it already.   So one last quote, also a reminder  to him….to remind him of what he said and how he sounded.

We have to stand up for what we believe in.  Say what we think and mean what we say.  Most important, we have to be willing to say things that have meaning to ordinary  Americans.  

We need a politics of real meaning.

We don’t have that politics of meaning yet at all.    It is a politics more of “handling” and “managing”.  It is still mostly top-down without the passion of the grassroots.  I don’t see much real yet. I don’t blame him for that, it is just how it is right now.  We have to have the “realness”, but so many of the leaders are just afraid of it.   When someone acts real, speaks out, they often get chastised still.  It will take time.  

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