Commentary - #17 July 27, 2005

To The Editor, Boston Globe Magazine

To The Editor, Boston Globe Magazine: July 27, 2005

After all the hype about Dean that we’ve already seen, I was hoping that the article “Rebel with a Cause” would offer something new. It didn’t, with one intriguing exception -- the brief mention of Barry Rubin being sent by the DNC to rebuild the state party in Nebraska. What are we to make of this? Does it represent the leading edge of a Dean initiative to rebuild the party’s state and local political infrastructure? Democrats better hope that this is the case, for the RNC and its state committees nationwide are busily “institutionalizing the grassroots” of the GOP while Dean’s counterpart, Ken Mehlman, goes about broadening the party’s base.

Is Dean making noise mainly to provide media distraction while the real serious business of political party rebuilding goes on -- under the radar of media easily titillated by outrageous remarks but which, typically, pay little or no attention to local party organization? Or has Howard been inspired to try to “frame” a new, Democratic message guided by a book distributed from the top down by Democratic power brokers influenced by a California liberal professor, George Lakoff? There are many questions that your focus on Dean’s personality does not help to answer.

To the extent that Democrats act as if they have been “framed,” they’ll be disappointed again in 2006. For Republicans are increasingly influenced by a “conservative populism” set forth in another book that is being circulated within the GOP from the bottom up. Your writer Charles Pierce is right on one point: 2006 is a test year. My prediction? -- Victory in 2006 will go to the party that is best able to bring people back into the political process as actors rather than spectators, not to the party that focuses on the usual incestuous mix of money and media. If the GOP builds on the people-based politics of 2004’s winning “ground war,” then our Republic’s political realignment from “blue” to “red” may be confirmed, no matter how much the Democratic Party’s new Chairman sounds off.

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