November 19, 2004

Roll Up Your Sleeves

Every holiday, my family gets together and plays Monopoly. We have some dessert, spread out on the dining room table, and have a good natured round of cut-throat faux capitalism. I think I won one of these games once upon a time. In the end, winning is only incidental to me. I just like communing with my family.

Recently, I realized that, my brother Harold and my cousin Billy seem to always be among the last people standing towards the end of the game. Consequently, they tend to win more often than anyone else. Consistently. And I started thinking about why.

Typically, we'll start at around 8PM, and, with close to 10 people playing sometimes, the game can go well past 1AM on a Saturday night before we all have to drag our turkey-infused bodies to church the next morning. It's fun, but, after a while, it becomes draining. We all get a bit punch drunk and, slowly but surely, begin to mentally check out of the game. It's become a marathon and, consequently, no longer fun. Which is, of course, the whole point of playing.

For most of us.

Only then did I realize why Harold & Billy keep winning. It's because winning is FAR FAR FAR more important to either of them than simply playing or communing or having a good time. As I watch them, I can see both of them becoming more energized as the night goes on. As other people begin to fall away, Harold & Billy smell blood. They know that, with each bankruptcy, the win that they crave so much becomes that much closer. They work harder. They become more creative. They want it.


It's all that matters.

And why these guys and not, say, my mother or, even me?

Billy was a finance major in college and is a few steps away from being a licensed stock broker.

Harold is a Republican.

The moral of this story?

The Republican Party has won the last few election cycles because they never sleep. I'm reminded of a scene in "The Insider", where Russell Crowe can see the office building of his old employers: it's night and the building is dark except for the 10th Floor. The legal department.

They don't sleep. They spend every waking hour trying to find a way to advance their agenda. Think tanks. Newsletters. School boards. Letters to the editor. Meetings. Calling in to talk shows. Writing their congresspeople. Going to city council meetings. Financing candidates. Boycotts. Protests. Lawsuits. Petitions. Bills.

By any means necessary.

The point is, the GOP shows up every time. They contest EVERY open elected office, right down to school librarian. And they've been doing it for years. Even those who aren't political operatives do their small parts where they are to effect the things that are important to them.

Not just complaints. Consistent, continuous action.

Democracy is a full-time job. It requires, at the very least, active information gathering and engagement in the issues. But, it's a bit silly to know all and do nothing.

We may call ourselves Progressives, but this is really the first election in a generation when we actively pushed forward in a coordinated effort. Yes, they won. By two points. And one of those points went to Ralph Nader.

We matched them in fundraising, and we very nearly matched them in voter mobilization.

But now the election is over. Now, that same work has to be devoted to the day-to-day operation of actually governing. And that requires daily, active involvement of SOME kind.

We don't all need to run for office (although some of us definitely should). But we can all do something to create the America we want.

Rev. Tillet is in total agreement with me on this:

It's Time To Step Up

In the world of sports, whenever there is a big game or a critical situation in the game, the players and coaches will often say that, "it's time to step up." The more there is on the line, the more imperative it is that the team and its coaches "step up and bring their A Game." It is such a time for the African American community in the "United" States of America. If what is past is truly prologue, then the election results from November 2 should inform us that we can no longer have any reasonable expectation of assistance or even a sympathetic ear from the Federal government. History has also taught us that the less sympathetic the Feds are, the less support we will find at the state level, either.

So here we are, on the cusp of reaping the whirlwind from George W. Bush's first actual election to the White House, in 2004. Armed with a self-proclaimed "mandate," the courts are going to be damaged by the appointments and rulings by ideological jurists for the next generation. The government, designed to provide a Balance of Powers, won't be balancing anything. Even if the Democrats reclaim their progressive voice in 2008, it will take decades to undo the damage wreaked by these judges with lifetime appointments.

In the face of all this bad news, what are African Americans to do? I would suggest, hold ourselves accountable, set some standards and expectations in our own communities, and stop looking to government to "deliver" us. No matter who is in office, until we learn how to be producers rather than consumers, and become financially self sufficient by harnessing the power of our collective one-half trillion-dollar buying power each year, we will continue to be beggars. In a nation built on the backs of the enslaved labor of our foreparents, we continue to look for help that's not going to come from outside our own communities.

Are you unhappy with the schools? Support them with your time, presence and expectations. Better yet, open your own! But even our own schools will fail unless we have our children turn off the TV, the radio and the video games, open a book, and insist upon respectful performance from our children. Expectations begin in the home and are enforced in the home. Parents shouldn't look to "the schools" to do our job! Even if you are a parent who feels ill equipped, there are community programs, churches and mosques that will provide parenting assistance.

Are you tired of banks and insurance companies and their prejudicial loan and policy practices? Open and support honest and efficient Black banks and insurance companies. Weary of disinterested, businesses profiting on the African American community? Support honest and respectful African American businesses and stop asking for a special discount price. When "the man" comes to your house and quotes a price, you don't bargain, you pull out your checkbook. Do our own businesses deserve to be treated differently?

Perhaps you feel like the inner city and your neighborhoods have been abandoned? Start by cleaning up your own yard and your own block and hold your neighbors accountable to do likewise. We have seen the power of negative peer pressure in the decline of our communities. Positive peer pressure can also galvanize change. It's time to step up!

At this point, we have no reasonable expectation for help from those in power, who demonize us for campaign advantage and stand guard at the polls to try to keep us from voting. By managing our own schools, neighborhoods and families, African Americans can begin to take some baby steps toward self-sufficiency. No matter who is in the White House, the Congress or the courts, our destiny largely resides with us, where it belongs. It is time to stop looking for help from others when we won't help ourselves. It's time to step up!

Wondering what you can do? Here are some places to start:

Democracy for America (formerly known as Dean for America, one of my favorites)
MoveOn - they even have a manual...

New Democratic Network

Or just look for ways to infect the populace with new, progressive ideas:

There's work to do.

November 08, 2004

He's Ba-aaack!

I've been suggesting this since February.

Howard Dean is considering a run for chair of the Democratic National Committee after Terry McAuliffe's tenure ends in January.

And I say "Thank God".

After all, Dean was the one who figured out a year and a half ago that it was pointless to run to the center when Bush & Rove were simply going to fire up their natural base to swell the voter roles in their favor. As the good governor has been saying, if the people can't tell the difference between you and the GOP, and you're talking about the GOP's issues, they'll always vote for the GOP because they KNOW you're only talking like them to get their vote.

On the other hand, if you fire up your own base, on your own issues, with your own identity, NOW we can have a fight.

Dean's already doing party-building through his political action committee, Democracy For America. His mind is already on down-ticket races with an eye for a future progressive majority. Why not take it to the next level. Instead of being the leader of the self-proclaimed "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party", why not just cut to the chase and be the leader of the whole f'n party?

After all, we've proven that the Clinton cronies (yes, that's you, Terry McAuliffe) can't get the job done unless Clinton himself is the candidate. This is 3 Federal elections in a row that DLC centrism has gotten is a "moral" victory (i.e. jack squat).

Dean was and continues to be the only national figure talking about being proud to be a Democrat. He's already the Democratic Party's biggest cheerleader.

Give Dean the ball. Let him inspire candidates and partisans led by a moral, progressive vision so we can continue to reclaim local & state government. When we control a majority of the state houses & state legislatures, THEN we'll have a strong enough crop of candidates from which to pick a potential winning Presidential nominee.

More importantly, he seemed to be the only Democrat who was serious about retaking the South back from the Republicans (even if he didn't quite say it in the most polite way).

Reclaim the ethics issue (more on that later....)

Dean brings passion and integrity to the party. Even if you think he's a too intense to be president, you know EXACTLY where the man stands.

Let's have some of THAT trickle down the party ranks. A little conviction can go a long way.

From The Pulpit

So, in case you haven't noticed, we've undergone a bit of an upgrade here at Macroscope. Now, you can comment on anything we have to say here, and feel free to e-mail the posts in all their multimedia glory to your friends and neighbors.

And, I'd like to stress the word "we" here because this marks the first in a series of outside columns by my dear friend, Rev. Stephen Andrew Tillett, the Senior pastor at Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church in Annapolis, MD.

Today, the Rev, an avowed Progressive, talks about the election and faith....

Silent No More
My late grandmother used to have a saying: "Enough is enough and too much smells!" I have been the recipient of numerous articles and commentaries from grieving progressive friends since Tuesday's election. The post mortems are beginning to circulate and there is much hand-wringing over how the Democrats allowed themselves to get punked, yet again, because of a made-for-election-year "issue." Largely because of the gay marriage "issue," John Kerry's loss is being credited to the evangelical religious right who turned out in record numbers in response to their concerns - some would say fears - over the subject.

As a member of the heretofore exceedingly courteous Religious Left, I can no longer be silent and assume that "common sense will prevail." Though I find that the whole right/left, red/blue designation inadequately captures the complexity of this nation called the United States, I will use it, for now, since it is more easily (superficially) understood. The "Religious Right" has crowned themselves as the voice for spiritual people in this country and have sought to position themselves at the very gates of Heaven to determine who gets in and who doesn't - who speaks for God and who doesn't. This is not only ludicrous, but also insulting. No more! The Progressive Religious Left has just as much of a claim to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible as anyone. Indeed, I would argue that it is more Christlike to live as Jesus lived and to try to "love my neighbor as myself" rather than to exclude as many people as I can if their sins are different from mine. (Their Big sins versus my little ones.)

Somehow, according to these folks, homosexuality has made it to the very top of the Lord's hit list of sins and now commands an inordinate amount of attention given the scant attention it receives in Scripture. Let's see what the Bible has to say. Based on my study of the issue, homosexuality is mentioned specifically a grand total of three times in the entire Bible, in Leviticus 18:22 (in the midst of an entire chapter of sexual prohibitions), Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27. There are, of course, numerous other verses that refer to sexual immorality, fornication and the like, but these are usually attributed to depraved heterosexual behavior. Interestingly enough, there are over seven hundred prohibitions in Scripture against lying, yet millions of voters came to the polls to keep homosexuals in check while lies and misrepresentations have resulted in the deaths and maimings of several thousand US military personnel and tens of thousands of Iraqis (yes, their deaths count, too!) We are more concerned that a homosexual couple may move into the neighborhood than we are that our children may get sent to the desert to fight a war we started and cannot win. As long as those gays don't move in down the street, we can live with job losses, no health care and trillion dollar deficits. No more!

Some analysts indicate that a significant number of African American voters, spurred by their pastors, voted for George Bush on Tuesday. Rather than voting their hopes, they voted out of fear and voted for the candidate whose record indicates that the policies of his administration are anathema to a great majority of our community. Yet the GOP correctly discerned that African Americans are among the more socially conservative citizens of this nation and astutely drove a make-believe wedge right between them and their own best interests. And now they will have a president for the next four years who will do his best to keep the homosexuals in check, while he appoints judges to the courts of this land who will set us back for a generation. But as long as my gay neighbors can't get married…

Just in case anyone is paying attention, the GOP has mastered the art of manipulating legislation and ballot referenda during election years to "frighten out" (turnout) their constituency. In 2004, that "issue" was same sex marriage. In every other election cycle it is their concern for the sanctity of embryonic life. Apparently, life is precious as long as it is in the womb, but once it hits the light of day, it can be snuffed out by a semi automatic weapon on any street in our great but troubled country because everyone should be able to own as many guns as they want with no limits and no background checks. Life is precious in the womb, but if that life grows to become a retarded adult who commits a crime they don't even understand, they can be executed in one of the new state of the art prisons built for us by our booming Prison Industrial Complex. The Bible says we should care for widows and orphans, but instead we live by the world's non-Biblical credo that "the Lord helps those who help themselves." Embryonic life is precious, but Lord help them if they're born on the wrong side of town, have too much melanin in their skin, dare to want equal pay for equal work or access to credit and home loans at reasonable rates.

I, too, value the sanctity of life. I believe that abortion, as a form of after-the-fact contraception is reprehensible. I also understand that circumstances arise in everyone's life (e.g., rape, incest, or the health of the mother) where it may regrettably be necessary. I just don't think that the State should insert itself between a woman and her doctor. Also, in case you hadn't noticed, women can order pills online from the comfort of their homes that will induce a miscarriage and all the health establishment will be able to do is treat those women when they arrive at the hospital. That horse is out of the corral. As much as we might like to, we will never be able to exert as much control over that issue ever again. I also think it is short sighted to vilify and oppose a candidate over that one, personal issue, when the candidate is right on most of the issues facing our families and our future. No more!

I am a proud member of the Progressive Religious Left, otherwise known as the Body of Christ. I will no longer allow others who practice an intolerant, exclusionary brand of religiosity to be understood to speak for me. It's time we, the silent majority, rise up and allow ourselves to be heard. If we sit back and expect for common sense to prevail without our input, we will continue to reap the same results we always have. "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got!" No more!

Frankly, I couldn't agree more. And, as a guy who's STILL, to this day, angry about the 2000 Florida Recount, I'm sure Rev. Tillett will have alot more to say in the coming weeks. Glad to have him aboard.

November 05, 2004

Mommy / Daddy Syndrome

I'm a Democrat. My brother's a Republican.
I'm a progressive. My brother's a conservative.

Clearly, we see the the world VERY differently. Given the fact that we're 12 years apart, could the differences in our politics come from changes in Mom & Dad's parenting skills in the intervening decade? After all, he spent his formative years as an Army brat born in Texas, while I was the child of a bus driver and a state bureaucrat born in the working class suburbs of Baltimore.

This article seems tho think so.

November 03, 2004

".....the sun WILL rise...."

So, I know many of you are still where I was last night.

Sad. Hurt. Stunned. Disappointed.

But that was last night.

Here are the facts.

America WANTS Bush.
By a margin of nearly 4 million votes.


Because EVERYBODY is scared.

The whole electorate. The entire country is scared out of their minds, losing sleep, grinding their teeth, pulling out their hair, about something.

Half of them are terrified of Bin Laden and homosexuals. And the other half are scared of evangelical Christians, the Patriot Act, the deficit, and, quite frankly, Bush himself.

Fear was on the ballot, and it won in a landslide.

Now, we can all have fear for 4 more years. The people who voted for Bush get to be afraid of terrorists and gays for 4 more years because Bush will continue to play to those issues. And the people who voted against Bush (because, let's be honest, very few of them were actually voting FOR Kerry), get to be afraid of Bush for 4 more years.

This is the world we chose.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

We voted for fear because it's comfortable and familiar. But there are other choices.

So, I'd like to suggest that we all deal with our own fear. Whatever it is. Fear of Bin Laden. Fear of homos. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of Bush. Fear of evangelicals.

Because the more you fear something, the more of it you'll get. The more you choose fear, the more you'll get fear. So, choose something else.

For instance, choose faith. Choose to believe IN something, instead of being afraid OF something. I read recently that fear is perfect faith in evil. Choose, instead, to believe in what you love.

Instead of fearing Bin Laden, have faith in America.

Instead of fearing gay marriage, have faith in the strength and
sanctity of your own marriage, no matter what challenges come your

Instead of fear of bankruptcy, have faith in opportunity and your own ability to
prosper, to be wealthy and abundant. (As we Christians SHOULD say "see
the birds in the sky. They do not sew nor reap, yet your Heavenly
Father provides for them").

Instead of fearing Bush, have faith that this is the signal of the
beginning of a progressive era, just like 1964 was the beginning of
the conservative era (remember, Johnson beat Goldwater in a landslide,
and then Nixon routed the Democrats 4 years later. Nixon destroyed
McGovern, and was then run out of office). This election laid a

Stop being afraid.

Start having faith.

Faith in who you are. Faith in what you believe. Faith in the world you choose. Faith in the world you want.

And then share your faith with your neighbors, who are clearly wetting their pants right now, whether they voted for Kerry or Bush (after all, the Bush people voted for him primarily out of fear of Al Qaeda & some mythic gay wedding press gang).

We on the progressive side need to stop defining ourselves in opposition.

The absence of a negative is NOT a positive.

We need to define the world we want, at every level, and then proclaim it. To the heavens.

Of course, the conservative response to that will be "Damon, you're dreaming".

And my response will be "Of course I am. That's why I wake up smiling.

A better question is 'Why aren't you?'

Because clearly this bed-wetting thing can't feel too good."


Everybody should listen to some Roy Ayers today, namely his track
"Shining Symbol":

"It's not the end.
It's the beginning......"

Note: after a long hiatus, there's going to be a different kind of
Macroscope, in line with what I'm talking about. Stay tuned....

[Update - 11/4/04]: Incidentally, the book I referred to above, that talks about faith as the opposite of fear, can be found here:

This book was simply life-changing. I can't recommend it strongly enough. And I would be remiss if I did not give my sweetheart, Ms. Heather Gillespie, the credit for bringing it to my attention.

And, while I'm at it, if you want to get the Roy Ayers track I mentioned, it's on the soundtrack for the Pam Grier film, Coffy, both of which can also be found here:

November 01, 2004

The Man From Tomorrow

Ever since late July of last year, my morning ritual has been slightly different than it had been for the preceeding 29 years of my life. The daily routine of bludgeoning the snooze button, grabbing a shower, ironing some clothes that I know I should have ironed when they were hot out of the dryer, and packing up for my day had one very distinctive new process.

I pinned a blue button with the words "Howard Dean for America" to my chest.

Tomorrow, my routine will return to what it was seven months ago. And a not insignificant part of me will have died in the process.

Now, I'm sure many of you out there think that the previous sentence is the kind of hyperbole that all writers are practically addicted to when describing their emotional state. And, of course, there's a modicum of truth to that. I'm only recently becoming aware just how much my love for the taste of clever words in my mouth has chilled some friendships & relationships, and earned me the lovely title of "judgemental arsehole" on more than one occasion.

And maybe that's why I love Howard Dean. Because, quite honestly, he and I have alot in common.

Even though I'm someone who prides myself on being tactful (which is often quite easy when placed in relief next to some of my intentionally tactless immediate relatives who shall remain nameless), there are so many things that I cannot NOT say. And things like that are hard to swallow for alot of people, no matter how much sugar you sprinkle on them.

Personally, I never had much of a sweet tooth. I tend to prefer the taste of salt. Or red meat. And, let's be honest: isn't protein and iron better for you than sugar?

Dean was, more than any other person in public life that I can even think of, the guy who wasn't just willing to tell you the truth you didn't want to hear. Dean LOVED to tell you the truth that you absolutely HAD to hear. The truth that your life depended on.

The truth that, when you run the numbers, NO ONE in the middle class really got a tax cut. The truth that, even though there may actually have been a legitimate national security argument to justify invading Iraq, Bush held it in his back pocket in the hopes you'd all swallow his fear-mongering line of bovine excrement rather than doing the hard work of honest persuasion. The truth that Bush thinks Ken Lay and Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are better at spending your money than either you OR the Federal government, so we might as well just give it to them because we would only blow it to feed our $2000/month perscription Lipator habit like the degenerate junkies that we are.

Yes, all of these truths were self-evident. But only Howard Dean had the (yes, I'm going to say it) balls to actually say it.

On National TV. Loudly.

Someone with the strength of his convictions, demanding that everyone actually acknowledge that the President has no clothes.
That is leadership. Governing in the absence of fear. THAT is what I wanted in the White House.

But morale backbone was just a gateway drug.

The real intoxicant Dean sold was America itself.

Not this paranoid army of exploited Wal-Mart drones being mass produced by a cabal of elitist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, inbred, dyslexic sock puppets too stupid to realize that they're putting their own heads on the pikes of the starving masses by bankrupting the country to stay in power. Not that America.

Dean showed us jaded Americans the America Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence - the America where regular people not only had a say in what their world looked like, but where they actually cared about what happened to their neighbor. Where the government was an instrument they all created to pool their resources and better their lives. Where they were able to fulfill the blessings of their own liberty and everyone had a stake in making sure that everyone else succeeded.

He showed us the America that Haitian refugees see when they try to ride a rowboat across the Atlantic for a better life. The America that South Asian immigrants see when they sell themselves into virtual slavery just for the chance to ride on a shipping container to the New World.

Dean showed us, for the briefest of seconds, The Land of Opportunity. The place where everything is possible.

He showed us The Future.

We used to call it the American Dream.

And he showed it to us in a way that made us all kind of slap our foreheads and say "what was I thinking? OF COURSE THIS IS WHAT I REALLY WANT!!"

I'm reminded of a speech the late Richard Harris gave in Gladiator about Rome:

"There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more, and it would vanish. It would disappear. It was that fragile."

And yes, part of that dream died today. The part where Dr. Howard Brush Dean III, the former governor of the State of Vermont, becomes the President of the United States in the year 2004.

But, then again, not even Moses got to go to the promised land.

And yes, today, there is mourning for the death of that part of the dream.

But there are 640,000 people in mourning today.

We've all tasted the dream, and we're all still hungry.

The campaign for the White House may be done, but, if I can quote KRS-One:

"We will be here forever.

Do you understand me?


For ever and ever.

And ever and ever.



No link or associated article this time. Just my semi-random observations.

So, last Sunday, I watched a debate between 5 of the nine contenders for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, sponsored right here in L.A. by the League of Conservation Voters, a progressive environmental group. One of the things that struct me was how much time they all spent talking about why they are capable of beating President Bush in a general election. In many ways, it's more of the same mantra that has really burdened our political process for years - "Don't waste your vote on a loser."

This brings several things to mind. At a philosophical level, it just reinforces for me how much failure is equated almost with immorality in the American Dream. But that's a different discussion for another time.

On a more practical level, it makes me wonder how much time do we devote to thinking about who SHOULD be president as opposed to who CAN be President, because the two are clearly not always analogous. When Bob Graham says "I'm from the electable wing of the Democratic Party", my knee-jerk reaction is to castigate him for lauding his appeal to the other side as a virtue. There's so much talk about electoral calculus, i.e. if I can get the people in just the right number of states to vote for me, then I can squeeze my way into the Oval Office.

Number-crunching aside, I think that this approach is, quite frankly, beneath the ideal of what America is supposed to be. Just like, for all his virtues as a candidate, I thought Al Gore's approach of "I'll protect you good Americans from the bad Americans" is beneath America as well.

America is bigger than that.

America is, for lack of a better term, a symphony.

It is the blueprint for a song that calls upon the very best from every single instrument in the orchestra. And the President is the conductor. A conductor cannot take the elements of the piece meant for the brass section and give them to the strings simply because he likes the way the strings sound. On the other hand, the conductor can't take from the strings and give to the winds because he thinks the strings are too arrogant and full of themselves. And he certainly can't make the symphony work by catering to the natural divisions between the various sections.

The conductor's goal should be rousing, fulfilling, beautiful harmony.

Which means the President of the United States of America has to represent the entire country. Not just the red states or, my personal favorites, the blue states. Every section has a role to contribute to the endeavor, and the President's job is to led the way by which ALL sections contribute and are provided for. He must be the President for the workers, the poor, the underclass, but he must also be the President for the business community and the wealthy, those who provide the opportunities for the others. He has to find ways to balance the needs of the industrial sector to prosper with their civic function to provide for the society, by both the goods they provide and the jobs and benefits and wealth they create for employees and shareholders alike. He has to protect and defend the downtrodden and the disenfranchised while calling for responsibility on the part of those who reap the most benefits from being members in this club we call America. But, at the same time, he has to find ways that the disenfranchised can contribute to the nation as a whole, while helping the successful protect and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The President is not beholden to PACs and lobbyists and interest groups and big donors and protest parties or the DLC or the Green Party or the Electoral College.

The President is a servant to an idea. The idea that all men & women are created equal, and deserve an equal chance here, in this place, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own happiness.

So, as you think about the upcoming election, don't let them drag you down to their level. Don't let them trick you into believing these false choices, that only certain people are "electable", and only this person or the other deserve to be there.

That, my friends, is an aristocracy.

Reach out with your hearts and think about who SHOULD be there. Who do you dream about being there.

It's only when we stop settling for the lesser evil that we can ever hope to get the good.

Liberty or Death

OK, so one of the many fringe benefits of participating in the Dean campaign is that I have a much better understanding of the landscape of modern political discourse. The New Republic likes to think that it's the venerable, old guard standard bearer of modern liberal thought. But, considering that they endorsed "Joe-mentum" Lieberman as the Democratic nominee, I think it's pretty safe to say that they're out of touch with the Democratic electorate.

But once I figured that out that they were really, if I may paraphrase my favorite retired ghetto superhero Al Sharpton, "elephants in donkey jackets", I started casting about for some more progressive publications. Which lead me to The American Prospect.. Admittedly, I think I've only just scratched the surface of what they do, but the punditry seems to be right on the money.

Case in point: this little blurb they put together on the potential legacy of Dean for America. I'm particularly interested in Garance Franke-Ruta's article on the way Dean has re-invigorated American democracy. One of the standard critiques of DFA has been that, given the spotlight, they concentrated on the political process (i.e. meetups, fundraising, grassroots interactions like letterwriting, etc.). But, and I quote:

"How we govern ourselves -- who has power and who can use government power to improve their lives -- may be a process question. But it's also the one this country was founded on. Americans did not fight against the British for universal health care, gay rights, and a 50-cent increase in the minimum wage. They fought for the freedom to be self-governing.

Which raises an interesting point to me.

Have we, as a country, simply forgotten what democracy is?

After decades of special treatment for the wealthy and enormous corporate donors and lobbyists at the expense of the average taxpayer, has the notion of "government of the people, for the people, by the people" simply been beaten out of us?

A democratic government is intended to be a an agent that gathers the collective resources of a group of people to act in their interests as they determine it in ways that they, as individuals cannot. And yet so many of us look at the government as irrrelevant at best, antagonistic at worst.

Dean for America was a real microcosm of what a national, American democracy could look like in the 21st century. More importantly, it reacquainted over a half million people with the idea of self-rule.

This is all a thought in progress. Stay tuned......