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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Eagle

Online exclusive: Former Dean supporters reorganize

"Say it loud. I'm the grassroots and I'm proud!"

The Deaniacs are chanting for a new cause - Democracy for America. Last month, former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean announced the formation of a group aimed at defeating President Bush and "taking back our country."

In his speech, Dean outlined four main goals of the organization: support a "sustained grassroots involvement" in democracy, promote honesty and accountability in political candidates, fight against the far right-wing and special interests and promote "progressive policies."

Dean sharpened the message in a Monday New York Times editorial in which he discouraged voters for Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate who ran for president in 2000.

The Washington Post reported that the Democratic National Committee is hoping Dean will be successful in retaining progressive voters in the party.

"Democracy for America is committed to exposing the ways in which the Bush administration's policies are designed to prop up the privileged and please right-wing ideologues," Dean wrote. "This is the way to defeat George Bush."

Following the example of the Dean presidential campaign, Democracy for America plans to use the "meet-ups" organized online Internet to draw people into the organization. The first official meet-up took place simultaneously across the country on April 7.

"They give me so much hope," Democracy for America organizer Alison Stranton said. "Tonight I heard Americans talking about their democracy, their power, and how they are going to ... take their country back."

The meet-up focused on building local and state groups, organizing corps leaders and projects, discussing recruiting strategies and learning how to support progressive candidates, Stranton said.

A group Web log shows some division and uncertainty within the organization. Some members complain that they need "more direction from above" to have a "cohesive structure and message," while others wrote that Democracy for America needs to remain grassroots and decentralized.

DFA has shown some organizational capacity by garnering $100,000 from 2,000 supporters, which will be donated to Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy's reelection campaign.

The Web site, though still a work in progress, provides links for many sub-groups like Catholics for Democracy, Seniors for Democracy and Women for DFA. Many of these groups are conversions of former Dean campaign groups.

"Dean is just using DFA as a shell group so he can run around making speeches for money," argued one frustrated blogger.

The T-shirts available for purchase on the DFA Web site tell a similar story. On the front they read, "Democracy for America" but on the back, "I am a Dean Democrat"

Section 202 host Gabrielle and friends go over some sports that aren’t in the sports media spotlight often, and review some sports based on their difficulty to play. 

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