As if the relentless assault from attack dog Republicans and wimpy establishment Democrats and media weren't enough, Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraisers are now jumping on the anti-Dean bandwagon. In recent weeks, three top money barons for the DNC have resigned, The Hill reported recently. Why? Because the poor party bigwigs feel neglected.
You see, Dean -- unlike his inside-the-Beltway predecessor Terry McAuliffe -- is actually trying to build an alternative to the corporate base of the GOP. Even Newsweek's Howard Fineman, long a reflection of conventional Washington wisdom, recognizes the importance of this shift. "Early in the last 'cycle,' in 2001, the Republican National Committee outraised the DNC by a 3-1 margin," Fineman writes. "So far this year, that ratio has been cut to 2-1."
"More important," Fineman continues, "is the way it was raised. In the past the party relied on 'soft money' from millionaires. But such donations are now illegal. Officials estimate that $12 million of the $14 million the Dean regime has collected so far this year has come from those who gave less than $250. 'For people who really look hard at the numbers, he's wowing people,' says Elaine Kamarck, a respected DNC member."
In just over a hundred days on the job, Dean has visited 22 states, devolving badly-needed resources and control to the grassroots. On these trips, Dean flies coach, buys his own bus tickets and carries his own bags. Democrats in red states like Nebraska have already received 10 times the amount Terry McAullife provided last year. State party chairs describe Dean's visits as "electric," "ecstatic," and "very excited," Sam Graham-Felsen recently reported on Alternet. Nick Casey, West Virginia's State Democratic Chair, said people were driving "three hours from the south, five hours from the east, just to hear him."
Actual DNC members, rather than unnamed Democratic insiders, know this approach will pay off. "I hope Governor Dean will remember that he didn't get elected to be a wimp," DNC member Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a South Carolina state representative, said after this weekend's DNC executive committee meeting. "We have been waiting a long time for someone to stand up for Democrats."
Alvaro Cifuentes, chairman of the DNC Hispanic Caucus, concurred. "We have to get our politics out of Washington," he told Reuters. "We cannot continue to be help captive by party leaders."
If you agree with the grassroots, sign the petition to Democrats in Congress: "Howard Dean Speaks For Me."
© 2005 The Nation