We checked out one of the NC for Dean meetings last night. I tend to be a very cautious person politically, not in terms of being outspoken or knowing my position, but in terms of feeling the need to support any one candidate prior to the race itself. This year, that’s changing.
Howard Dean has come out with amazing energy, and despite my cynicism I’m feeling inclined to offer time and support somehow. I’ve been amazed at the level of openness his campaign has offered, and their willingness to embrace new technology (and GPL it, too). The technology caught my attention, but the message is what’s making me want to volunteer.

There’s a vast difference between grassroots support of the kind that Dean’s seeing, and actually winning the Presidency though. Presidents need the support of their party, and right now the discussions I’ve read and heard revolve more around “taking back our party” than they do “winning the support of our party”. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe it does need to be taken back, but I suspect many folks will need convincing of that, and that’s where the message can get muddled. Are democrats taking the party back from themselves? What does that say? Now, the reality is they mean to take the party back by reinvigorating it and generating interest where perhaps there was none before. What remains to be seen is, can they translate the message without confusing voters?

Regardless, I haven’t seen anything like the level of enthusiasm I’m hearing and reading online these days. Dean supporters are not waiting to hear from “HQ”, they’re just effecting change on their own. This can only be a good thing, no matter the end result, for if folks are feeling connected enough to their politics to create their own mini-campaign the year before the primaries, then something important is happening.

I for one hope that it continues to build and that the enthusiasm remains. There are a lot of reasons to want a new president these days, and a lot of people who don’t want to hear that maybe we could do better than our current cowpoke. The more that people supporting Bush and Ashcroft, confused between the nature of patritism vs. fascism, try to shout down those desiring change, the more they will energize those who haven’t found the courage to speak up yet. Go Dean.