INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Monday, June 30, 2003

Can An Authentic Voice Be Heard Above the Slime?

An intriguing statement from Doc in a post yesterday:

"For the first time I'm starting to believe we are reaching the implementation stage of Cluetrain in politics: The point where voice and authenticity matter more than any campaign strategy."

This is precisely what the Howard Dean campaign is about. Up until now, I've been dismissing Dean as unelectable. But after watching him go mano a mano for an hour last Sunday with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, I’ve changed my mind.

Dean's a Ross Perot without the crackerisms. A no-bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is guy, In other words, a breath of fresh air. As with Perot, I think his approach has a chance of catching on as more and more people, hopefully, begin to wake up to the reality of how much they've been lied to by the present administration.

As for the unelectability factor, hell, there's no chance for any of the Dems anyway. Not against the insane amount of money that W has been raising in the past weeks. The shocker is that this is money (all $200 million of it) that is going to be spent before the conventions—before the general election campaign even gets underway.

During the entire spring and early summer next year, there will be endless commercials "defining" the Democrats in whatever way that Bush, Rove, and Gang want to define them--soft on security and patriotism, big spenders, you name it, any smear you can think of.

The poor Dems won’t even be able to raise half that much money—combined. And they’ll have to spend all of it fighting each other in the primaries. No matter how much we may hate it, and no matter how much the press and everyone else bitches about it, the fact remains that the outcome of modern campaigns is determined by TV exposure.

The irony of the much-touted McCain-Feingold election reform, which bans “soft” money, is that it has a built-in advantage for the GOP. Only the well-to-do can afford large donations of “hard” money—i.e., direct contributions to the candidates—that are now the only kind allowed. These, of course, are the very folks who are only too glad to chip in to the GOP cause.

Call me an incurable pessimist if you must, but I just don’t see how it’s possible for anyone to stop the Texas Terrorist. As long as none of the Dems can win, we might as well have a candidate who’s not going to mince words about the very scary directions toward which the dread Gang of W is leading us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a candidate like Howard Dean for whom, to quote Doc once more, “voice and authenticity matter more than any campaign strategy?.”


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