Jim Moore, Dean's internet guru and Berkman regular, has some interesting observations about yesterday's near-record fundraising. In my opinion, what was appealing about Dean's promise—an email to supporters asking for an all-out effort to win Wisconsin but vowing to bow out of the race if he lost—was that it resonated with a concept of Dean For America as a movement, not just a political campaign.
Let's face it: if this election is about one man, it is about George Bush. Bush's potential opponents have their varying strengths, to be sure, but the differences among them utterly pale in comparison to the differences between any of them and Bush. We almost owe Bush our thanks for galvanizing all of us against him. It is now possible to feel camaraderie with virtually anyone in the Western world under 30 by sharing disgust at the US President.
The implications of these bonds are stunning. My generation has had things pretty easy here in America. Growing up, the economy was kind to our parents, we were wonderfully educated, and we always felt safe and trusting of our nation and government. But in the past three years, the economy has tanked as we entered the job market, the resulting government budget crunch has drained public schools and universities everywhere, and our illusions of safety have been brutally compromised. While it's true we shouldn't expect boom times to last forever, we see a president that has not only ignored but worked against our concerns in favor of entrenched interests that we oppose. And, for the first time, there are major political organizations that really appeal to us. One may be a candidate, but like many others, what appeals to us is the opportunity to participate meaningfully in politics within a constituency that has only recently, but with great force, acheived self-awareness. It tells us you don't have to be old, unionized, or religious to rally together— a tremendous relief for us, who have been battered and fried in diversity rhetoric.
That's why I almost gave money to Dean yesterday— his message showed the biggest hint of understanding our pressing needs I've seen yet. What would get me to give? A promise that, rather than letting his campaign fizzle to death in primary after primary, he'd turn the money and momentum it has raised into a new kind of union and advocacy organization that would continue to represent us for years and years. For that, I would not only open my pocket, but also my schedule.