It seems clear that barring some unseen movement, Howard Dean will likely become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 12. The only candidate that comes close to Dean is Democratic activist Donnie Fowler, who won Kerry’s successful Michigan campaign last year, mainly by helping Kerry court Catholic voters who might have been persuaded to cross over to Bush.
If Dean wins, the Democratic Party will be committing an act of political suicide.
The Republican strategist side of me wants to cheer this on — a Dean victory will ensure that the Democrats have a DNC head who is so completely out of touch with mainstream America that 2006 would be almost guranteed to be another big win for the GOP.
On the other hand, the Republicans need a sane opposition party to keep them on their toes. In most elections parties compete for the middle. A Democratic Party with Howlin’ Howard at the helm would be focused with laser-like precision on their base, meaning that we’d see more of the Deaniac madness that alienated even Democratic primary voters. For all the talk about how great Howard Dean’s campaign was (and even I was suckered into believing the hype), it produced a lot of money but very few real votes. Even before the “I Have a Scream” rant at the Val-Aire Ballroom, Howard Dean’s campaign was coming off the rails. Inasmuch as the Kerry campaign copied Dean’s electoral techniques, they found them entirely lacking. The enthusiasm of the Deaniacs was offputting to anyone who handn’t gulped down buckets of Dean’s Kool-Aid.
In case the Deaniac’s hadn’t noticed, the Red States make up 286 electoral votes – and all a future Republican has to do is match President Bush’s performance. The Democrats lost decisively in 2002 and 2004 because they appeared weak on defense and out of touch with the values of the heartland of America. Howard Dean might as well be the poster-boy for both. Dean doesn’t even remotely understand how to speak to middle America.
If the Democrats were smart, they’d go for someone who speak to moderate voters. Donnie Fowler has proven he can do it. Tim Roemer’s pro-life stand may be unpalatable to NOW, but it would help him reach out to the Blue Dog Democrats who abandoned the Democrats in the 1980s and only crossed over to vote for Clinton. Hell, Bill Clinton may have been tarnished by scandal, but he’s got the charisma and he brings in the big bucks to make the best party head the Democrats could ask for.
But the Deaniacs have spoken, and they’re about to steer the Democrats off a cliff. Hopefully enough sensible Democrats will jump off and the Deaniacs will take the Kennedy/Kerry/Boxer wing of the party with them.