(Host) Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean says Democrats should blame the economy for their defeat at the polls last week, but also he says there are other lessons the president and the party should learn from the midterm elections.
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Dean said President Obama campaigned on a promise to change the way Washington worked, but then hired a senior staff of Washington insiders:
(Dean) "He misjudged what kind of change people wanted. Of course the Democrats wanted the kinds of changes in health policy and so on. But what independents and Republicans wanted – and a lot of them voted for him – was change in the way Washington did business. He didn’t do that."
(Host) As chair of the Democratic Party from 2006-2008, Dean promoted what he called the "fifty state strategy" that aimed to strengthen the party at all levels, and decentralize political power outside of Washington. The idea worked for Democrats in the 2006 and 2008 elections. But Dean says Democrats abandoned the strategy in 2010, and their opposition made good use of it:
(Dean) "So the 50-state strategy was really about empowerment, and the highest compliment to the 50-state strategy is, that is exactly what the Republicans just did to us."
(Host) Dean’s presidential campaign and the tension between grassroots politics and established party leaders is the subject of a new book "Herding Donkeys", by Ari Berman.