Not Sorry For…2004…

April 21, 2008

By the time Howard Dean came to national prominence, I was entirely sick of George W. Bush’s “wartime leader” pretensions.  I found it hard to believe that the mainstream media barely scrutinized the almost comical absurdity of someone who’d spent the Vietnam era in Texas, the silver spoon he was born with firmly up his nose instead of in his mouth, heroically landing on an aircraft carrier to celebrate the resolution of a war that was clearly not over, and which he started himself.  I doubt the 19th century press would have credited Lincoln with saving the Union if he’d fired the first shot on Fort Sumter  But, I digress.

What I most admired about Howard Dean was his boldness.  His leadership on the gay-marriage issue was courageous, and at a time when mainstream politicians of both parties pussyfooted (emphasis mine) around Iraq, Dean’s opposition to the invasion was brave and much-needed.

If Barack Obama deserves applause for his alleged opposition to the war at a time he was a politician of no real consequence whose opinion no one yet cared about, then Dean deserves a standing ovation for opposing it as a presidential contender whose opinions a large segment of the population was still ready to Dixie Chick him over.

I don’t think it entirely off-base to suggest that Dean’s opposition opened the door to serious debate about the Administration’s lies and mistakes before, during and after major combat operations in Iraq, but I will admit that Howard Dean was the first candidate to really make me feel like I was a part of something.  I could be a little biased.  I was 18-years-old when I gave my very first presidential vote to Al Gore and was almost as disillusioned by the media’s ridiculous treatment of “the scream” as I had been with the Supreme Court after that first vote.

But I think there’s something to be said for the argument that Dean’s loss was everyone’s win, if in fact his legacy proves to be a lesson in how modern technology can again make the political process mean something to everyone.  If young people used to being treated as props by campaigns who want to “protect them” have a way to be a part of real political conversation online, it has much to do with the Dean revolution of 2004.  If union members used to being treated as props by campaigns who want to “protect them” have a way to “meetup” and find a candidate who knows traditional industry has a place in a global economy, it has much to do with the Dean revolution of 2004.

Most importantly, perhaps, if we ever have the opportunity to sit at home in our underwear, filling out our presidential ballots with a few tabs and a couple mouse clicks while telling Diebold to suck it, it will have much to do with the Dean revolution of 2004.

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