Readers respond to Mark Hertsgaard's "Why Dean Should Take Charge."

Published January 24, 2005 8:34PM (EST)

[Read the story.]

I (and many of my friends) will be faced with a difficult choice if Dean doesn't become the next party chairman. If the Democrats elect to subscribe, for another four years, to the same blurry, appeasement-oriented platform that has been losing them supporters and elections for the past decade, it may be time to say goodbye to the Democratic Party, and consider registering as either an independent or as a member of a third party that isn't afraid to articulate the values for which it stands. The time for the Democratic Party leadership to demonstrate that they have some balls is long overdue; and with Dean, they have an opportunity. They would be wise to take it.

-- Vernon Dowdall

After reading Hertsgaard rant against the Washington insiders who are, again and rightly, attempting to torpedo Dean's chance of becoming DNC chairman, I think it's worth keeping in mind that Hertsgaard is a resident of San Francisco.

While I now live inside the Beltway, my birthplace, hometown and college town lay firmly in Republican-leaning rural Ohio.

I don't know why the Southern Democrats quoted in the article support Dean. It could be that they want/need a regionalized party in order to minimize the Northeast influence.

My point is that Dean, as a political candidate and as a party chairman candidate has proven and will continue to prove that his connection to the American electorate is, at best, superficial. His vast grass-roots movement that the media adored, and Republicans appeared to fear, evaporated at the first chance it was tested. Iowa was a disaster. New Hampshire was disappointing. And the general election (one in which Democrats matched Republicans almost dollar for dollar) was one in which the Democratic Party lost on every front.

What does our party need? A pragmatic business executive. An individual who is able to marshal resources, identify areas of opportunity, identify threats, and an individual who knows how to control his mouth. The last person our party needs is someone who shoots from the hip. We need pragmatism, not idealism. We live in a time of terror. We live in a time of war. I'm an Ohioan. I don't want Dean to represent my party.

-- Brian Fruchey

I was delighted to see your analysis of why the Dems need Dean. I would have liked just one more paragraph, on the real reasons for why we'll be seeing escalating, frantic "anyone but Dean efforts from the party establishment."

Sadly for us, it has nothing to do with what's good for the party or the nation, and everything to do with what's good for those very insiders (Democratic Leadership Council, most particularly) who are simply intent on keeping hold of the small amount of power they already possess. Their only power/prestige comes from their control of the DNC. If Dean becomes chair, they lose. Follow the money/power.

-- Jane Gordon

I agree wholeheartedly with Mark Hertsgaard that Dean should and could well be the next DNC chairman. I won't list all of my reasons (and there are many), but the most important to me is the inclusion of supporters and activists as he demonstrated within his own campaign.

We (Democrats) were outplayed and outmarketed in November, and we shouldn't have been. The party of smart, creative people should look to its ranks for more than just money. DNC e-mails include no opportunity for feedback, reports from the trenches or offers to help -- only multiple "Donate Now" buttons.

I will give only to individual candidates and 527s until the party shows that it can do better. Choosing Dean over some Republican-lite DLC member will be a step in that direction, while also giving Reid, Pelosi and Democrats in the trenches some fortitude for the many fights they've got ahead of them.

-- Donna Westmoreland

While I enjoyed Hertsgaard's article greatly and agree that Dean should be the next DNC chair, I want to challenge the author's assertion that during the campaign Dean was "a deficit hawk who opposed gun control, gay marriage and universal healthcare."

Yes, Dean is deficit hawk, and an opponent of some gun control (he supported gun ownership in Vermont; he does not support many of the positions of the national NRA). But to say that he opposes gay marriage and universal healthcare is a complete misrepresentation of his positions. It's a completely bizarre assertion, really, considering how proud he is of achieving near-universal health coverage in Vermont.

What it comes down to is, Dean is a pragmatist. As governor of Vermont he implemented "civil unions" because he thought there would be less opposition to the notion of giving gay couples the same rights as straight couples if the relationship were known by a different name. Considering the fact that Dean had to wear a bulletproof vest after signing Vermont's civil unions legislation, it's a little unfair to call him an "opponent of gay marriage." After all, Jerry Falwell is an "opponent of gay marriage" too, but the two are hardly endorsing the same position. Dean clearly supports an expansion of gay rights. Also, Dean has made it clear that single-payer universal health coverage is his ideal -- he just thinks it's more realistic and more expedient to work within the system that we have.

-- Rachel King

By Salon Staff

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