Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

March 27, 2004

by V

Blast from the Past

I'm going to recycle a post from last July, because I think it's useful to revisit now that Kerry's won the nomination.

Veteran activist Todd Gitlin, was interviewed in Salon. My excerpts:

Anyone but Bush
Q: ...we have become alien to each other. I have friends who absolutely cannot conceive of why anyone in Minnesota would be pro-war, or pro-Bush. How do we bridge that divide?

A: ...it's a huge failure of imagination if someone can't imagine why someone would support Bush. Since roughly half the population did.

...everybody on the left should go listen to Republicans and try to figure out what makes them tick. This is across-the-board advice. I would tell people, "Good God, most people are not like you!" ... Parochialism is never a platform for understanding, and this is another kind of parochialism.

Q: ...when I talk to Greens they say, "Well, if the Democrats ever included our issues, we'd be Democrat, but if not we need our own candidate." And when they're not making that argument they say the problem is the Electoral College, that if we just had runoff voting everything would be jake.

A: ...It's always stupefying to encounter fundamentalists of any stripe, people who have built a protective shield around their minds. People who are impervious to practicality, who don't learn from experience, are always dangerous. And now we know them by their fruits.

...I've also run into people who've thought it out themselves, because they weren't impractical. They performed an experiment in 2000, and the experiment turned out to be catastrophic. And they picked themselves up and moved on.

...If you shudder at the thought of power, you don't belong in politics. You can't emote your way to power, you can't moralize your way, you have to strategize your way to power.

...the left is always ready for carnivorous action against one of its leaders. They're always ready to shred a standard-bearer if he or she fails to deliver the maximum. They're very quick to send somebody out the safe house of sainthood, because they've let them down.

Q: Why do you think that is? I'm wondering if there's not a deeper ideological difference between the conservatives and liberals that would make the left carnivorous and the right not.

Yes, distrust of authority. Which is obviously not a problem for the right, because they're authoritarian. I think it's about that simple.

...[the Right] are not geniuses, they make mistakes, they could have very easily lost the 2000 election. They could have been defeated in a number of the 2002 elections if the Democrats had had some gonads, and there seem to be Democrats who have learned that lesson, too. The right thing to do is to do the best you can and not to be obsessed with the consequences, many of which will be unknown for a considerable amount of time. And again this is something the Republicans have understood.

Q: What advice do you have for activists now?

A: Movements need to be inventive. The MoveOn people are inventive. Who knows what kinds of other invention will come to pass?
Kerry's the standard bearer we have. I'm not jumping for joy, but let's try not to shred him. Even an ordinary President would be a massive improvement on this one.
Posted by V at March 27, 2004 10:58 AM

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Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
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