Dean and the need for party building

Kos and others have been lamenting the lack of direction and focus in the Democratic Party. Dean ran a successful DNC head campaign at least partially on this principle, stating that at times the party had been captured by their left wing and prevented from being centrist enough to win over moderate voters.

There are also dissenters who say that the oldest Party lacks a message and simply stands for contrarianism today. Daschle was blasted for being obstructionist and it seems like President Bush can’t get a word in edge-wise without threat of filibuster or harassment. But one must wonder, and I do, if this is not simply multiple ploys by the Majority Republicans to villainize the Minority Democrats even further.

It seems to me that if the President were interested in bipartisan progress, as he claimed post-election, he would be nominating U.N. Ambassadors with clean slates and exemplary service records, not chicanery and cover-ups. John Bolton might be a hardliner and might be what the U.N. needs, but there wasn’t a no-nonsense diplomat somewhere in the stack that both parties could agree on? Additionally, the nomination of judges who lean a bit too far right for people’s tastes, even one Republican (Lincoln Chafee), seems to be a direct challenge to the Democrats. Does Mr. Bush really believe in Priscilla Owen, et al, or is he just pushing our buttons and keeping us from doing anything meaningful while the far-left and middle-left bicker amongst themselves?

Which brings me to the point of party loyalty. In the Republican Party, stepping outside party lines is risky business. On the other side of the fence, where we still believe in democracy (apologies, Dan) that’s not out of the ordinary, it’s the norm. Democrats regularly vote for Republican ideas if the ideas are sane. I wonder what blowback Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Mike Castle will face for trying to move toward scientific progress in the stem cell debate.

As a loyal and fierce Democrat, not a Bush contrarian, I must agree that our Party is lacking direction and cohesion, but I am afraid to take the steps that brought the Republican Party from nowhere to everywhere post-Nixon. At this point, I don’t know where the answer is, but I’m not sure that Dean has it. He claims that he isn’t too far left to take the party somewhere and grow it, but his track record isn’t great on that front. Even before the famous scream, leftist voters were leaning toward Kerry. I don’t want to toe a Party Line, but it feels like our hands might be tied until we gain some ground. Is it OK to declare martial law and put up a dictator for the Party if it takes us from rabble-rousing to revolution? And once we’re there, can we keep him leashed? I’m sure there are old-style Republicans (fiscal responsiblity, small government, state’s rights, privacy) out there that are regretting their decision to back Bush no questions asked. I met some in Texas. I’m sure there are Republican politicians who cringe at Frist and DeLay taking advantage of the religious right in the Schiavo case… But they’re being mostly silent.

If we want to get somewhere as a party, do we abandon democracy as well?



Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents are also available


I am thankful for so much help. I regret any accidental
omissions from this list, but I would especially like to thank

  • my family, especially my parents, grandparents, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins for their help, love, inspiration, and support,
  • my thesis committee, including Dr. Richard McBride, Dr. Doug Goodman, and Dr. Larry Bradley, for the tremendous amount of time and patience they put into helping me,
  • my other instructors at the University of South Dakota, especially Dr. Nan Jiang, Dr. Douglas Peterson, Dr. Timothy Schorn, and Chairman of Computer Science John Lushbough, for a fantastic and enjoyable education,
  • the experts who agreed to lend me their wisdom and years of experience, Dr. Noel Burleson, Dr. Francesco Padovani, and Dr. Schorn,
  • my friends who I have never met, including David Norman and Angus Maddison, whose personal help was invaluable in writing this thesis,
  • my supplier of high performance computers, Midcontinent Communications and specifically Aaron Thoreson, for lending the system that allowed the simulation to execute in a reasonable amount of time,
  • my mentors from my undergraduate education, including Dr. Rick Christoph, Dr. Robert Lahm, and Dr. Jerald Tunheim, for help, friendship, and encouraging me to continue my education,
  • my teachers from years ago, Roger Leistra and Stephen Boint, in whose classrooms I first had an idea similar to the one described in this document,
  • and my fellow students at USD’s Computer Science graduate program, for friendship and inspiration.

Thank you.

Computer Science Thesis Index