…and few in Democratic circles need it more than DNC Chairman Howard Dean does right now. Whatever you want to call some of his latest remarks about Republicans (the leadership, he says, but the brush sure seemed wider to many), they've fueled the wingnut propaganda machine, providing a needless distraction from important legislative and electoral battles that should be our main focus.
Then there's the fundraising. Josh Holland
passes along this from The Hill...
Three top fundraisers at the Democratic National Committee have resigned at a time when its chairman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, has come under fire from fellow Democrats for controversial comments and his Republican counterpart has raised more than twice as much money.
Democratic sources link the resignations to Dean's decision to focus on raising money in small increments through the Internet, as he did during his 2004 presidential bid, and building up the party's grassroots infrastructure while paying little attention to major Democratic donors…
If you've got any slack to spare, slip some to Howard while he gets his fundraising house in order. It sounds like there's a sea change coming for the DNC money shop, and there's tremendous potential there if Dean steers the right course.
Of all the campaigns I've worked on over the years, Jerry Brown's 1992 primary bid is among my personal favorites for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the groundbreaking effort in grassroots fundraising that was central to the campaign. Trying to fund a Presidential campaign with a self imposed $100 contribution limit and a toll free telephone number seemed hopelessly Quixotic at the outset, but at end we had raised nearly $5 million, a decent figure in those days, and only Bill Clinton's seemingly impregnable windmill could dull our lances.
The lesson of the power of small dollar, grassroots fundraising wasn't lost on one veteran of the Brown campaign, Joe Trippi, and he brought his enthusiasm for the concept along with the new technological possibilities of the internet to the Howard Dean campaign and proved, once again, that there was unrealized potential among rank and file Democrats and progressives, many of whom had never made a contribution to a Presidential campaign before, because few campaigns had made the help of people with $20, $50 or $100 so central to its focus.
In addition to the money raised, these new donors, both to Brown and Dean, seemed vested in the campaigns to a degree that seemed to some inordinate to their relatively modest financial investments. Highlighting the importance of small donors was a critical factor in building grassroots organizations, and right now the national Democratic Party needs to build that kind of grassroots organization, creating a new fabric of partisan identity and solidarity in every region, every state, every town. A well developed small donor strategy, supported by contemporary technology, may be a key, even a necessary, element in rebuilding our Party.
There's evidence that it's working on the financial front. Although our coffers aren't as swollen as those at GOP headquarters, it's important to remember that, according to Media Matters
...as DNC chairman, Dean raised $14.8 million between February and April 2005 -- roughly a 74 percent increase from the same period in 2003, the previous non-election year. Additionally, over that same three-month period, the DNC has raised more money in 2005 in comparison to the Republican National Committee than it did in 2003.
What we need are people who will give $100 and walk a precinct, give $20 and wave a sign, give $10 and their heart to the Party. They're the ones that will spread the word, produce the victory, hell, save the world. And those high dollar fundraisers? Well, think about this snip from The Hill...
Democratic fundraisers say that there is growing concern over what they call Dean's lack of attention to major donors and that donors are much less likely to give money if they don't have sufficient opportunity to meet with the party's leadership.
Those folks aren't about supporting principles, they're about buying access. The less they buy, the more the rest of us will have. That's not a bad thing, provided the plan is in place to pick up the financial slack.
The models exist. Lessons have been learned. The technology's never been better. Developing and implementing the right plan will be the key to Dean's ultimate success as Chair, and that, more than anything he says or how he says it, is the basis on which he should be judged.
Although the early returns are actually promising, contrary to the popular wisdom of the corporate media, it's still too soon to pass that judgment. Until judgment day arrives (and it surely will), there's slack available from this outpost...