[From the diaries by susanhu. Beautifully written, FloridaGal — as always.]

You have already started to change the party and together we have transformed this race.

That is what Howard Dean said in his announcement when he dropped out of the presidential race in February of 2004.   He said a few other things as well.  I don’t think he knew then he would be the DNC chair.  He formed DFA just a month later.    

He made it clear he would not go on his own to form a 3rd party.  He often said he talked about it, but that it would simply not work.    

Here is what else Howard Dean said when he dropped out of the race.

He ruled out running as a third-party or independent candidate, but he also said he and his supporters would continue to be a force for change: “We are not going away. We’re staying together unified, all of us.” He vowed to “continue to campaign for change,” working to keep his issues alive.  The fight … can and must continue’

“There is enormous institutional pressure in Washington against change, in the Democratic Party against change,” Dean said. “Yet, you have already started to change the party and together we have transformed this race. The fight that we began can and must continue.

Historians will judge, but Dean and his devoted supporters are convinced that they more than anyone else defined the Democratic debate through his unwavering criticism of President Bush, the Iraq war and Democrats who helped Bush push his agenda through Congress.

“Because of your work, we have already written the Democratic Party platform,” Dean declared Monday night at an exuberant Madison rally that harkened to the heady days when he was more focused on a running mate than exiting the race.

I was not at first sure of exactly how much he meant that.   But he has shown staying power,  acting like a leader showing the party how to go on the offense.  He said several months ago they were just learning to an opposition party.  He was most surely right on that one.

I thought about 3rd party as well.   I was raised pretty moderately, sort of turned liberal since Bush took office.  Now some of my friends here in my area and I had to make some decisions.    We decided to start getting positions within the party and changing the old ways of doing things.  We have partly succeeded, but a way to go yet.

I for one have decided that Dean meant what he said, my husband and I and our friends trust him to keep working to get the party into a fighting machine.   I am angry at many of our Democrats, but I have decided to work with the party to change things.    Someone in a post said Dean should have more power in the party.  He can have that, but only if those of us who want change are willing to work with him.  

He is not liberal, but he is practical and sensible and cares about the people more than corporations.   He’s a virtual bulldog about things when he knows he has people behind him.  So I am.   I wish us luck. …
This picture is from February 18, 2004 when he withdrew from the campaign.  On March 18, 2004, he went to Seattle to announce Democracy for America…just one month later.  He has not looked back and not wavered, though essentially he knows the DC don’t exactly welcome him with open arms…nor do they especially welcome us either.  They have their own old ways.

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