Howard Dean is a human being who has accomplished a great deal for his party and the nation.
He demonstrated to the party establishment that there was an appetite for aggressive Democratic opposition to George Bush, and that for many Democrats this election is the moral equivalent of war.
Howard also allowed technology-based innovation to happen in his campaign, even though he didn’t really understand it. What is important is that he gave innovators permission to experiment on a grand scale, and the value of the web has now been proven, at least in fundraising. This, in turn, has established a strategic inflection point in the political process in America.
This weekend Howard is personally deciding what to do over the next weeks and months. This is something only he can do for himself. This is a choice he has earned by his courage and his commitment and his willingness to lead at a time–last year–when no one else in the party was willing to.
I don’t want to second guess him. I want to thank him.
But in all the focus on Howard, we may not be paying enough attention to other people whose decisions may be as vital as Dean’s to the shape of the next few months.
There are at least fifteen people within the Dean campaign staff who could replicate the key elements of what worked on the web. If these people move quickly, they can continue to contribute within this election cycle.
The most valuable people on the Dean team range from the obvious technical and blogging staff to organizers who worked on GenDean and MeetUp. While none could do all the necessary functions, each has the intellectual understanding to put together the required contributions into an effective system.
The interesting question is what these people will do with their knowledge. They could fan out and start or enrich ten to twelve new organizations. They could band together as one or more teams. In either case, there is much innovation that is still on the table, already planned but unlikely to be implemented at DFA. At least half of the folks I’m thinking about know important pieces of what are likely to be the most valuable next things.