Here are some of the highlights:
The destination of the Democratic Party means making it a party that can communicate with its supporters and with all Americans. Politics is at its best when we create and inspire a sense of community. The tools that were pioneered in my campaign -- like blogs, and meetups, and streaming video -- are just a start. We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage.
People will vote for Democratic candidates in Texas, and Alabama, and Utah if we knock on their door, introduce ourselves, and tell them what we believe.
What I want to know is at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?
Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."
Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.
Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.
We need to embrace real political reform -- because only real reform will pry government from the grasp of the special interests who have made a mockery of reform and progress for far too long.
The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our Democracy is a moral value. Honesty is a moral value.
If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.
It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate.
We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.
We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well, and I'll be discussing that more specifically in the days ahead.
Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.
Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.
Reform is a daily battle.
And we must pursue those reforms with conviction -- every day, at all levels, in 50 states.
His main pitch is that Democrats should compete in Red States. I'll buy that. It also means we should compete for every race that's up for election in Illinois (and with more local elected officials in this state than any other state besides Texas, there are a ton of opportunities). Somehow, we Democrats need to convince people to run for office. Right now. The filing deadline for some municipal offices is this Monday. Most municipal offices have a filing deadline of January 13th.
Chicago isn't holding an election in 2005, but lots of the burbs and lots of Downstate communities are. And if you are one of those people who think the Democratic Party needs to grow stronger and larger and be built with more conviction -- like Barack Obama who at his official kick-off speech in Chicago for his primary campaign almost two years ago said that we need to stop sending Democrats to D.C. who lose their backbone -- then you personally should either run for office or recruit someone to run for office.
It doesn't matter if they win. It matters that they take ownership over the direction of their government. Running for school board or village trustee or city council or library board makes that nebulous conviction real. We need to be the people who run government -- and reform government to ensure that it serves all the people and not just the insiders. I'm trying to convince people to run, and Dean's speech has inspired me to put some more thought into figuring out who I know that lives in a place with elections coming up in early 2005 that should run for office.
The other thing he hit on was the need to develop a sense of community among Democrats. If you have some ideas for that, comment away. One group is Drinking Liberally which meets every Wednesday at the Red Lion in Lincoln Park at 8 pm or so upstairs. Another is the Young Chicago Lakefront (disclosure: I'm on the board), an offshoot of the 44th Ward Democratic Organization that puts together events for younger people.
And the final thing we should do is get comfortable with the Regular Democratic Party so that we are a part of it. It took me awhile to get to this place, but it's overdue. I didn't think reform and the Democratic Party really went together. I was a Nader 2000 campaign organizer! But, after the 2002 election, I finally saw that the Democratic Party has been the party of reform and raising living standards for people -- but not exclusively. There are people in the Party who are not reformers. There are people in the party who reward insiders over the electorate. And instead of taking that revulsion from the corruption within the party and trying to replace it, I decided to, in the words of one state representative, "move in, and redecorate".
The more I stopped looking at D.C. and some of the corporate Democrats there and started looking at the state and local Democrats here in the Capitol of Blue America, the more comfortable I became with enthusiastically joining the Regular Democratic Organization and working for the political reform that makes everybody better.
So if you live in Illinois (not in Cook County) and you largely agree with Howard Dean, then you should serve as a Democratic precinct committeeman. And you should recruit someone (perhaps yourself) to run for office. Or you should really get involved in someone else's campaign.