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February 02, 2004

In So Many Words

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The following from a NYT Editorial...how fitting.

However he fares in the coming primaries, Howard Dean has already touched more than a few young lives. Around the country — campus by campus, computer by computer — thousands of teenagers and 20-somethings have fallen hard for his campaign. They're lucky. It's a wonderful experience to lose one's political heart for the first time, as did the college students who sacrificed long hair and beards to be "clean for Gene" — Eugene McCarthy — in 1968, or the young men who stood bare-chested waving placards for Bill Bradley in the New Hampshire snow or followed the banner of Senator John McCain in 2000. The newly enchanted of 2004 bring a rush of young blood into the nation's old campaign arteries.

Unfortunately, the nearly inevitable conclusion of these first heady forays into presidential campaigning is political heartbreak. "Don't you lose some essence of life when you really can't give your heart?" asked Kate DeBolt, an 18-year-old Floridian who says she could "go to the ends of the earth" for Dr. Dean.

Her candidate is still very much in the race, and his campaign's pioneer work with the Internet is going to transform grass-roots politics. But ever since the Iowa returns, his more innocent followers have been grappling with the shock of discovering that it is possible to be pure of heart, fired with dedication, and still lose overwhelmingly. Many of the young people who heeded Senator McCarthy's antiwar message in 1968 spiraled away from politics forever when Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination. The young Deaniacs could easily add to the near majority of eligible voters in America who find politics a waste of effort. One of the most important missions of the Democratic nominee this year is to help keep young people interested when the campaign boils down to the deeply pragmatic politics of the summer and fall.

Already, after losing in Iowa and New Hampshire, some of the Deaniacs are beginning to adjust, slightly. Chris Zychowski says whatever happens, this campaign has "changed the course of my life." Mr. Zychowski, a software expert from San Francisco, says he's going to law school, a better route to fighting for the issues. As for politics, "I'll vote for anyone but Bush, but I'll only devote my life like this to Howard Dean."

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at February 2, 2004 02:58 AM | TrackBack


Its like they say- its almost a political rite of passage to passionately work for a failing cause in your youth. Al Smith, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Gary Hart, Jerry Brown, Ross Perot, Jack Kemp, John Anderson, Barry Goldwater and on and on. Most of these men were honorable men who fought the good fight and made America a better place in their own way- even though it wasn't as president. Howard Dean joins this list now it seems and 20 years from now we'll still smile when we think about the fight we fought in our youth.

Posted by: Andrew D at February 2, 2004 03:49 PM

Your optimism is killing me. If you happen to be wrong about this all, I reserve the right to laugh in your face. If not, then I concede. But your premature departure from someone you worked for still shocks me (though I suppose I understand) and your brash determinations that it's all over confuse me. What is your big hurry to declare it over and done? What do you possibly have to gain?

Posted by: Karl-T at February 2, 2004 04:44 PM

I have to agree with you, Karl-T. I have heard a lot of gung-ho Deanies all of a sudden have a change of heart.

I, too, would go to the ends of the earth for Howard Dean. I will obviously support whomever gets the nomination, although I prefer it is Dean. Howard may be down, but he's not out. Not even close. I have NEVER ditched a friend because they were having problems, and I feel the same about candidates. If he is going top win the nomination, he can't have a bunch of fair-weather supporters. We aren't the republican't party--we don't turn our backs on those in need.

Posted by: leodem at February 2, 2004 07:16 PM

Knock yourself out, Karl-Thomas, but I'm not going to be wrong. You have a serious case of the TB- True Believerism. You need to either suck it up and learn how to be a little bit realistic about things (losing by 20 points in Iowa and 13 points in New Hampshire, dropping to about 30 points behind Kerry in national polls that he led only 3 weeks ago all suggest that Dean's goose is cooked) or get out of politics. I like Howard Dean as much as the next guy, but frankly he was already starting to lose me by the time Iowa rolled around. Also, maybe its because this summer I sat in a briefing led by Joe Trippi who said that if Dean didn't win Iowa or New Hampshire he was essentially done and that if Kerry did Kerry would be the nominee. Seems like he called it- a huge victory in Iowa, a huge victory in NH, 5 victories tonight (all by big margins) and close 2nd place finishes in the other two states followed by victories in WA, MI and VA and a strong showing in TN means that Kerry has the nomination virtually wrapped up. It's sad, I know, but keep your eye on the prize- beating George Bush. I wouldn't go to the ends of the earth for Howard Dean or any other individual- I would go to the ends of the Earth for my country, my republic and that's what I intend to do by working for whoever the nominee is- Kerry, Edwards, Dean or Clark.

Posted by: Andrew D at February 3, 2004 05:43 PM

Optimism is never a reason to get out of politics. It is what keeps the political wheels turning.

Posted by: leodem at February 5, 2004 11:35 PM
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