Thank You, Howard Dean

Some time in July or August of 2003, my then-roommate Heidi and I decided to go to a meeting for a newly-formed group called “Ward 6 for Dean.” We, like more than a few others in those early days of the 2004 election cycle, were already disappointed with the Bush administration, and were looking to bring about a change. In the upstairs bar of the Hawk & Dove on a summer night, we found other people who shared this goal. A mishmash of ages, races, and points of origin, we all found our way to a meeting for an inspiring, but terribly unlikely candidate: an awkward doctor-turned-activist-turned-governor from Vermont.

Over the course of the next year, we moved into — and, fairly quickly, out of — the primary season, our neighborhood group joining with others around the city to become first DC for Dean, and then DC for Democracy, the local arm of the Democracy for America organization that grew out of the campaign. Though John Kerry hadn’t been our first choice, we threw our support to him, traveling to Ohio and Pennsylvania to get out the vote.

And as we became colleagues in the business of change, we also became friends. More than a year of hanging signs; staffing info tables; passing out leaflets; and talking, talking, talking to voters, was supplemented with potluck dinners, Sunday brunches, and more happy hours than can be counted.

We threw a big party when Howard Dean became chair of the Democratic National Committee. The naysayers from the traditional wing of the party — the Clinton/McAuliffe/Carville set — thought it was folly, that Dean and his 50-state strategy were doomed to failure. To many of us at the grassroots end of the party, his vision of building a nationwide network in support of Democratic candidates for every office available (from dog-catcher to city council to mayor to state rep to governor to the House and Senate), seemed like the only path to future victory.

On Tuesday, he was proven right.

Almost five years after the night in Iowa where Howard Dean joined his supporters in rattling off the names of the states they wanted him to win — which culminated in the cheer that effectively marked the end of his run for the White House — I sat in a bar with a half-dozen or so of my Deaniac friends as those states were called out again: Pennsylvania. Iowa. Ohio. Virginia. Florida.

And this time, we screamed.

3 thoughts on “Thank You, Howard Dean

  1. common loon November 6, 2008 / 3:59 pm

    Hey, can I share that there was a 90% turnout to vote in our district? I think it’s wonderful to see everyone exercise their right to GET INVOLVED in our political process. We have never seen such involvement, I believe, in our (my) lifetime. And not just the part of voting, but the sort of door-to-door, phone calling, mailings, meetings, and rallies. I believe Peggy Noonan compared it to the Kennedy era. Do you feel old when you think, “we were in on the start of this stuff back at the turn of the century?” It sounds like our new First Lady’s agenda will attempt to sustain this sort of participation at improving our condition.

  2. Mom November 7, 2008 / 7:13 am

    Now, if you want to feel old, this ENTHUSIASM is very Kennedyesque — I remember it well — as it was the first time I voted!!

  3. Heidi November 9, 2008 / 12:36 pm

    Yee hah! I want very much to come back to DC now. I miss everyone so much. One thing you forgot to mention that I love to tell Ohioans about… the Move On Bake Sale at Eastern Market where people gladly handed over $10 for a cookie marked for $1. How much did we end up raising that day to change the world?

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