Is It Time for the Democrats to Concede?

Just 18 months until the 2004 Presidential Election, and the Democrats are running an underdog campaign, I guess. The Republicans have out fundraised Democrats 2-to-1. Their President is enjoying peak popularity and approval ratings fresh off the heels of two cynically-motivated wars. The Democrats are barely resisting Bush while he ramrods his tax cuts for the wealthy. The Republicans control all three branches of government and yet the Democrats behave as if they have something to lose.

Eighteen months before the November 2000 election, Bush had already been anointed as his party's candidate. He held a commanding lead in raising campaign funds. Thanks to a campaign run by a dream team of men from the White Houses of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Dad, he looked impossible to beat. Bush raised so much money, he was audacious enough to forego federal matching funds, so he wouldn't be limited by any semblance of ethics, and would be free to spend as much as he cared to, whatever it took to win.

Despite Bush's tactical advantages, the 2002 election still seemed to be Gore's to lose. As the Democrats (and Ralph Nader) picked away at Vice President Al Gore's commanding lead in the polls, the Republican candidates jockeyed for position and laid a foundation for a cabinet or corporate position, or a 2008 run themselves. Well before the election, Bush's dream team was already preparing for the presidency, getting their ducks in a row: war in the Middle East, the complete overhaul of progressive taxation, the rollback of environmental protection, etc. If it hadn't been for John McCain, Bush would have essentially ran unopposed. And when it came time to debate, the "smarter" Democrat managed to lose twice to the "dumb" Republican.

History is looking to repeat itself, only this time there won't be a close call in Florida. Maybe it's not too late for the Democrats to simply concede the White House for four more years, save themselves the time, hassle and expense (not to mention humiliation) of financing another losing presidential campaign, and start concentrating on political offices they have a chance of winning, on any level: Senator, Representative, Governor, Mayor, School Board Member, Justice of the Peace.

If any candidate does has a chance of winning, he will have to exhibit honor, courage and integrity - three qualities any one of which is rare in modern politics, in either party. If anyone is capable of running an honest campaign and inspiring American voters to exercise their right to demand a better republic and a more judicious democracy, it is Howard Dean. Newsweek's Howard Fineman seems to agree:

"Democratic insiders (and their media cousins) may think that Dean's a non-starter in the race for their party's 2004 presidential nomination. I don't agree. In fact, the former governor of Vermont is still a man to watch, if not the man to beat.

"Howard Dean, at least as a candidate, is a shark in Land's End clothing. He is always moving forward and always on the attack. Most of his rivals genuinely loathe him at this point, but Dean doesn't seem to care. He's looking to inspire voters, and thinks his combative style is what they want. He thinks that Democrats want some anger in their candidate to confront Bush's Red State triumphalism. Dean appears to draw inspiration from the cutthroat side of the Kennedy legacy, Bobby and Jack in particular. Their rhetoric soared and their ideals were noble, but their tactics were tough."

But enough with the hype - what exactly does Howard Dean stand for? Stay tuned - the Howard Dean campaign will not be televised.