Sunday, December 28, 2003

The Split Between Dem Leaders and Dem Base

Dean's rivals offer alternatives, from Gephardt's union-based, old-Democrat appeal to Lieberman's desire to recreate Clinton's old New Democrat model to Kerry's and Clark's appeal on national security experience to Edwards's economic populism and optimism. But the divisions among Democrats heading into the election year appear to be less ideological than in some years. Instead the Dean candidacy symbolizes the split between party activists and party leaders.

"Democratic Party activists, whatever their ideological perspective, have a view that their leaders have been completely ineffective in combating President Bush," one Democratic strategist said. "The leaders have a view that either they're doing the best they can or that more clever centrism is better or they need someone with a military background at the head of the party."

Al From, who heads the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, credited Dean with running a successful campaign but questioned whether he can effectively lead the party as nominee. "We need to lay out a reason to replace Bush," From said. "We can't just depend on the fact that the activists in our party are angry at him and like Dean. There aren't enough of them."

But another centrist leader, Simon B. Rosenberg of the New Democratic Network, said party leaders here should recognize what Dean has done. "The Washington party is a failed party, and Dean's criticism of the Washington party is incredibly accurate," he said. "We're completely out of power and heading for permanent minority status if we don't start modernizing the party. Dean has been a modernizer and innovator, and should be embraced for it. Instead he's being attacked for doing it differently."

el - The rest of the article is one long Dean bash.

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