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Sunday, February 15, 2004

Howard Dean's playhouse.

How counterintuitive of the Howard Dean campaign to open an official campaign headquarters in the heart of Central Square this weekend. I popped in for a minute yesterday afternoon on my way to buy some fancy Valentine's Day wrapping paper at Pearl Art & Craft. The Cambridge office is a hive of just-out-of-college activity and has all the marks of an actual campaign office, but since Howard Dean can't possibly expect to win any longer, it strikes me that he and his supporters have struck a peculiar deal: So long as people send money to Dean, he'll rent playhouses for them.

It's not as absurd as it might seem, since the longer the Deaniacs believe they have a shot, the less likely Nader will jump into the race. Dean will continue sponsoring his civics course for the Radiohead bloc, which I heartily endorse. (Less apocalypse, more get-out-the-vote!) And since Dean's most avid supporters seem hard to channel into mainstream politics, giving them a place to run and run and run until they finally run out of breath makes a lot of sense. Dean won't abandon them; they won't abandon him; and when the majority of voters finish ignoring them, they'll feel they gave it their best shot. Hopefully, when the playhouses finally close, the Deaniacs will help the rest of us knock Bush out of office using the bat the rest of the Democratic Party selects. Who knows? Maybe they will generate a more enduring political movement in the process.

Update: In comments below, I'm told that the Cambridge headquarters is an independent project of Massachusetts volunteers and has no official relationship to the campaign. Can you rent office space to campaign for a candidate with your own funds without it constituting a pretty sizable campaign contribution? Or without violating campaign finance laws? I'm actually asking, because I have no idea. As for a few of the commenters other concerns, I'll reply in the comments.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 15 February 2004 at 2:52 PM

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February 15, 2004 03:41 PM | Permalink for this comment

I just wanted to clarify that it's a Massachusetts for Dean office, independently organized by volunteers. It is not (as you wrote) an "official campaign headquarters." It wasn't financed by DFA. I've only been volunteering since September but whenever I've got involved there were certainly a lot of adults involved and not (as you wrote) "just out-of-college activity".

I'm really not sure why there is a "Dean for America Headquarters" sign on the front. It's not financed /organized by headquarters. That might contribute to some confusion!

From what I've read/been told, there are still efforts to get 15% for Dean at the MA primary so delegates can be sent to the convention.


February 15, 2004 03:59 PM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks, Sooz. So the volunteers have rented the space? That really is amazing.

Jake Lambert:

February 15, 2004 04:17 PM | Permalink for this comment

You suggest, "Hopefully...the Deaniacs will help the rest of us knock Bush out of office."

A) I am not merely a "Deaniac." I regret the frequent use of this term, but please bear in mind that I am an active, participating American citizen.

B) Where you in the United States in 2002 during the midterm elections? We have been trying to get Bush out of office while "the rest of us" were rolling over and playing dead. Welcome back, I'm glad to see that you've finally decided to help US get Bush out of office - even if you choose to do so under the auspices of a different candidate.

C) If you ever want to persuade people to your point rather than merely throw read meat to those who already agree with you - you might try dropping the belittling attitude. This type of diction, "us," implies that you don't consider me to be part of "us." Maybe that's why people vote Green (I don't).

D) I'm sorry if you didn't intend this post to be belittling, though it came off as such. I can only guess at intonation when reading things on the Internet. Please feel free to respond and clarify your remark if appropriate.


February 15, 2004 08:47 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'd call labeling the Volunteer Campaign HQ of a major candidate for President a "playhouse" "belittling." Pathetic. But its your weblog, do as you wish. It's just a real sorry viewpoint. And what's wrong with voting your conscience (ie, those who choose to vote Green)? Doing anything else would be un-democratic, and down right un-American, un-patriotic.


February 16, 2004 09:49 AM | Permalink for this comment

Two thoughts: First, I'm jealous! My candidate (Wesley Clark) dropped out and endorsed John Kerry before I got a chance to vote for him. But I also saw the writing on the wall, and rather than join in the last week's frenzied phone calls to Tennessee voters (or the increasingly paranoid chatter on the Clark supporters' Web site), I decided that the best way forward for my issues — which all boil down to beating Bush in November — was for my own candidate to get out of the race so that a clearer two-man contest could emerge. A three-way race for second place just didn't make sense to me.

Second, because I didn't realize that the Massachusetts Dean supporters had simply set up their own independent headquarters, I drew the wrong conclusion about what Dean is doing with his supporters' money. If I had known that, I would have written this post quite differently. But the writing is still on the wall for Dean, too — his campaign chairman is jumping ship to the Kerry campaign on Wednesday, and the Globe reports that Dean is looking for ways to transform his campaign into a political movement aligned with the Democratic nominee (who won't be Dean). I think that's a great idea and could give his supporters something even more important to do than try to pick up 15% of the Massachusetts primary vote.

h. Holbrook:

February 17, 2004 09:27 PM | Permalink for this comment

I would vote for Howard Dean. I think he is the best of the worst. I wont even consider voting for Kerry -- even to get Bush out of office. If these are the worst of the complaints about him than he isnt so bad.


February 26, 2004 02:29 PM | Permalink for this comment

When Dean talked about "taking back the Democratic party", Kerry is probably one of the people he meant we need to take it back from. Certainly I always interpreted it that way. We can all support Kerry in the general election, though many of us will have to hold our noses to do so, because we need to get rid of Bush. But these are the primaries, this is not the time to back the candidate we don't like. Kerry is a credible and viable candidate this year for exactly one reason: He learned what to say to voters, from Howard Dean. If we want the Democratic party to remain strong, to keep having a spine, and to continue to listen to the leader whose message the entire party is parroting, then increasing Dean's strength within the party is the most important thing we can do. To that end, trying to elect more Dean delegates can do us a lot of good, and it'll do Kerry a lot of good too (despite himself). Just as importantly, it's part of our continuing effort to take back the party for citizen participation and access, a project that will take years but is extremely important.

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