Spine Implant on the Way
I never got a chance this weekend to blog about Howard Dean's speech at the Hammer Museum, on the UCLA campus, last Friday. It was a pretty packed house, with about 300 people in attendance. And I thought Dean was pretty masterful.
He was introduced by the chair of the Democratic caucus in the California State Assembly, Mark Ridley-Thomas, who noted that "I'm sure a bunch of TV sets were broken yesterday (Inauguration Day)."
Dean gave about a 30-minute speech, hitting a lot of themes, but most of them strategic, based on what he would do as DNC chair. Here are some of the high points:
- We need more diversity in the grassroots. We will win when working whites, blacks and Latinos come together to vote their economic interests. Furthermore, we need a strong grassroots EVERYWHERE, working for every race in every locality. A Dean DNC will run a 50-state campaign in '06 and '08, not an 18-state campaign.
- We have to talk about OUR vision, not just take up a contrary position to the Republican vision (great article on this point in the LA Weekly this week by John Powers.
- We've seen this play before (regarding the pushback from the establishment against a Dean candidacy), but look at the breadth of endorsments I've already received (Mississippi, Utah, Washington, Vermont, Florida) from voting members. Dean sounded more ready for this pushback than the last time.
- There is a moral component to national defense that we have lost, and we must try to get back the moral high ground there.
- We lost in '04 because 1) they organized a bit better, and 2) they had (or at least communicated) deep conviction. (He told a story about his meeting with an evangelical who supported him during the primary season, solely because of his conviction)
- What should be music to the ears of the Kos crowd... "What this is really about is reform. Reforming our foreign policy, reforming health care, reforming the budget process, real education reform, election reform, economic reform for small businesses, and reforming our relationships with each other." On this last point, he said that, unlike Republicans, "we will never try to win an election by dividing America."
- I was surprised by the appearance of George Lakoff, and Dean's stress on the importance of framing and language. For example, he said "We won't be the party of gay rights. We'll be the party of 100% equal rights for every citizen no matter what. We won't be the party of abortion rights. We'll be the party that demands that every woman has the right to decide her own health care."
I think Dean sees the DNC job in exactly the right way; as a means to invigorate the grassroots in every community, as a way to nationalize the core Democratic message, as a way to reform national politics and provide legitimate opposition to the other side, and (most important) never let them get away with a thing. I was glad to have been on the cusp of this wave.