In light of my speculation as to Dean’s chances in the presidential election, I thought I should put up a link to the political cartoon, This Modern World, which published a cartoon this week, ridiculing the idea that Dean can’t win.
I’m still torn on Dean. I like his position on several of the issues. I love his organizational efforts, and his leveraging the use of the Internet. In a lot of ways, Dean is doing the kind of grass roots organization for the left that Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition did for the religious right in the early nineties (as detailed in Reed’s book Active Faith). In fact, that’s a decent comparison. While the Christian Coalition was able to drastically influence the direction of the Republican party, they were never able to fully take it over because they kind of freaked out the political center. I think that the Dean organization may end up in a similar position with respect to the Democratic party. And that wouldn’t be a bad thing. The Green Party has held the banner for the far left recently, but has not been able to translate it into getting a seat at the policy-setting table (although some might argue that it was Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 that convinced Gore to go with his disastrous populist campaign strategy). Dean’s campaign might become a credible force within the Democratic party, and play the position of power broker among other candidates. But I don’t know if Dean himself is electable.
Yes, he’s got moderate policies, as Tom Tomorrow points out in his cartoon. But he’s not known for that. He’s known for angrily spewing on television against the war. That’s the extent of most voters’ knowledge of Dean. If elections were decided by a careful analysis of the issues, I would agree that Dean has a very good chance. But they’re not. Elections are decided by personalities, by gut instincts, and by first reactions. Or did Schwarzenegger not just get elected governor of California?