Friday, November 14, 2003

That electability thing 

E.J. Dionne asks, "Is Dean Goldwater?"

This is the key to the Democratic race: Will Democrats decide that this year is about issues and electability, or will they choose instead to build a movement?


It is the Goldwater campaign, not George McGovern's 1972 antiwar crusade, that Dean's movement most resembles. Goldwater was not about "new ideas." He was about preaching the full conservative gospel and giving his followers a vehicle through which they could organize and put it into practice. Goldwater had his share of verbal gaffes. His supporters found them endearing. "Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue," Goldwater said. You could imagine a Dean supporter saying that.

Goldwater and his legions built a mighty movement that changed the country and affects politics to this day. But in 1964 Goldwater was clobbered by Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide felt all the way down the ballot.
I guess Dionne must not be a Dean supporter ...

All the debate this week about whether Dean is electable seems unproductive. All the Dean supporters say he is, most of the other liberals say he's not, and nobody ends up agreeing on anything. Not that it's not a legitimate issue, but it seems to only serve as a proxy through which the Dean and anti-Dean factions argue about their candidates without talking about issues.
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