Howard Dean Was Grassroots 1.0, Barack Is Grassroots 2.0
Barack Obama is a Deaniac from 2004, so am I, although I did not hear of him until Dean 2004 had boiled over. He was in Illinois, I was next door in Indiana. I was on the road, I was in Illinois all the time.
I was in NYC for a few days when he gave his speech in Boston. I watched one of his debates with Alan Keyes at a truck stop.
Dean 2004 was my initiation into US presidential politics. MeetUps were all the rage. So when I got to meet and know and become friends with the MeetUp CEO Scott, it was a big deal. "It is like going to L.A. and meeting Tom Cruise," I said to him. He is not a very assuming kind of guy, and I think I embarrassed him. But Scott is an Iowa native. We had the dot com bonding, we had the Midwest bonding, curiously. I have been everywhere in Iowa.
When I moved to NYC, the Dean 2004 alum were the first group of people I got to know.
Pound for pound I do think Barack Obama is a superior candidate to Howard Dean. But then Barack stands on Dean's shoulder. Obama 2008 would not have been possible if Dean 2004 had not happened. Dean 2004 laid the ground.
But then also Dean 2004 was a little ahead of its times. Back then there was no Blogger, there was no YouTube. The I Have A Scream fiasco would have never happened in a YouTube era. Dean was trying to shout on top of a shouting crowd. The TV people cut out the crowd and made Dean look ridiculous.
When I left Berea College in summer 2001, I had no plans, but my instincts were stronger than ever. When I moved to NYC, it was with the express intention of launching my company, but I got distracted by Nepal work, best work I ever did.
Like the French Revolution, the work on Nepal is ongoing. The revolution is not over yet. But it takes much less time. If Nepal ends up being a multi-party democracy of state funded parties, it will have become the top democracy on the planet. At that point Nepal's April Revolution joins the league of the top revolutions in world history.
The work is not over, and if Condi creates Palestine this year, she will deserve it more, but other than that I have laid claim to the Nobel. Objectively speaking that is the respect Nepal deserves.
If I could win the Nobel and Barack could win the presidency, that will have been two Deaniacs who went on to do big things.
And I was telling Dean alums in 2005 that some day a few election cycles later some Deaniac is going to be president. I was not thinking Barack because he had made it very clear he was not seeking the presidency or the vice presidency in 2008. And I was not thinking 2008. I was saying Barry Goldwater in 1964, and Reagan in 1980. Dean in 2004, so perhaps some Deaniac in 2012, 2016.
But this is the internet age. Time travels faster. Good ideas travel fast. The grassroots was not going to wait. Howard Dean had the energy, the guts. Barack has the sophistication to take on the establishment without making them feel all queasy.