Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Who Loves Ya, Baby?
Longtime readers of this blog will know that I love me some Howard Dean. I first heard of him sometime in 2002, and decided to support him for president in June 2003. Even after his campaign had imploded, I voted for him in the Wisconsin primary anyhow. And I was thrilled when he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. However, as far as Dean's ongoing crusade to convince evangelical Christians to vote Democratic is concerned--dammit, Howard, cut it out.

Because I love me some Howard Dean, I have to defend him a little bit. He's got the right idea to suggest that Democrats can't let the Repugs monopolize what it means to be "moral," and that core Democratic beliefs are in fact deeply moral, in a way average Americans instinctively understand. But when he talks about peeling off members of the Repug base as a strategy for winning elections, he's simply out of touch with reality. It ain't gonna happen. Plus, there's no need.

As we approach the 2006 elections, there are millions of voters with a bad case of buyer's remorse over their choice in 2004. Many of them aren't firmly or consistently identified with either party, and make their choices based not on ideology, but on a gut-level feeling of identification--"this person/this party will do a better job of standing up for me." Sometimes they find they were wrong, as a significant percentage of the 59 million Bush voters now know they were. Once they decide they were wrong, their weakly ideological or nonideological reason for choosing one candidate over another makes them people Democrats can realistically hope to capture.

The place to find Democratic voters is not among people who are being told from the pulpit on Sundays that Democrats are the spawn of Satan. Even if Bush is demonstrated with evidence to be wrong on absolutely everything, including what to order for lunch, his base will stay with him no matter what. Howard Dean could go on the 700 Club and start speaking in tongues, and the show's core viewers still wouldn't vote Democratic. For Dean to do so is a waste of time and effort--and given that Dean is still a bit of a loose cannon, it will probably do more harm than good in the long run.

So, Howard--Mr. Chairman--I still love ya, buddy. But you gotta stop it.

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