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January 16, 2006

Courageous Outsiders – King, Gore, Dean, Obama, Burner, Hintz

Comparing King and Gore, Susan G, one of the new front-pagers over at DailyKos, says both are asking us to look at what is going on and to throw off our powerlessness and take action.   The speech that Gore gave today echoes the call that King made four decades ago.

We were treated today to what I can only think of as a uniquely American experience: A white former future president, a son of privilege, summoning up the words and life of a black minister who rocked this country to its roots with his dream 40 years ago, both of whom referred back more than a century to a rural lawyer who took on the burden of the presidency when this nation's indivisibility and very survival were in doubt.

<snip>

Both stressed the immediate dangers to our democracy, with King's words urging an expansion of rights and a national commitment to tolerance, and Gore sounding the alarm that those rights - to all Americans - are at risk as never before from a "strong arm" presidency. Both painted the contemporary picture as stark and dark and true. King acknowledged the deep divide between black and white, Gore talked of the divisiveness along party and constitutional lines. But both were and are committed to an incontrovertible and optimistic belief that there is a solution to the recurring problem of power in America: this republic's people. We feel, in short, like outsiders to our own system. Like King. Like Gore. Like Rosa Parks. Like Cindy Sheehan.

I was struck by one of Susan H’s later observations:

We feel, in short, like outsiders to our own system. Like King. Like Gore. Like Rosa Parks. Like Cindy Sheehan.

I'm coming to think it takes outsiders to change the world. And that we need to pay attention to these outsiders who have a gift for speech.

This is true at every level of politics right now.  This is the time of the ‘courageous outsider’.   It’s not just Gore.  It’s Howard Dean.  That’s what is so very special about him.  He came in as one of the first courageous outsiders in quite a while and, when he didn’t get to be the Democratic candidate for President, he moved onto the next place he thought he could make a contribution.  It’s Barack Obama, someone who has been willing to say what is true about this country, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and say it with conviction. 

On the local level, it’s Darcy Burner, candidate for Congress in the 8th, new to politics but willing to take risks and to be authentic with us. Darcy has been an outsider much of her life, as evidenced by this great interview over at Washblog by Noemie Maxwell.  She came from a solidly working class family and went to Harvard and has done a lot of different work in various high-tech companies.  She has made connections and kept connections with people from all walks of life.  I’ve met Darcy about four times and am more impressed each time I talk with her.  She is very astute, filled with integrity and passion and determination.  And playfulness.  She is not cautious in the way that so many politicians, Democrats as well as Republican, are.  She sees that there is a lot that needs to be done at the national level to re-secure America financially and diplomatically and will see what she can do to make those happen.  And she sees the value of us bloggers, other courageous outsiders.

It’s State Party Chair candidate Mark Hintz, whom I just met last evening at a gathering in Snohomish County.  Hintz is currently chair of the Snohomish County Democratic Party and formerly chair of the 44th LD.  Hintz does not like to call attention to himself and it was only because the others started talking about what he had done in Snohomish County that he would add in thoughts or clarify something or share a vision.  He backed away from any credit.  These people who had worked with him both at the LD and County level talked about how he encouraged participation and listened to people and acted on good ideas and set goals and met them and raised a lot of money in the process.  He's the real deal (as other candidates may be as well; I haven't met them in this way.) 

Like other courageous outsiders, all these folks are not hooked into the status quo.  They think like outsiders; they are willing to takes risks; they bring gifts of creativity and relationship-building and knowing how to get things done. 

Hintz talks about how to make the Party stronger – to get way better communications amongst Party groups at every level, more transparency, a think tank, links with us bloggers.  He mulls them over, works with them and says that these are things we have to do whether or not he becomes Chair, things I feel pretty confident he will work on from the outside if need be.

Courageous outsiders may be inside or outside and most likely go back and forth.   The forms of the insider are not important to them.  Relationships are.  Integrity is.  Security is not. 

Gore lost and became an outsider immediately and then over a few years, he chose to become a courageous outsider.  What a great one he is.  Dean lost and stayed in, taking on a thankless job that no one could have done better.  We don’t know what will happen with Burner and Hintz and the many other courageous outsiders who will show up this year.  It is the year for it.  But we want them to stay and work from the outside or inside alongside us as we take back our democracy.

Speaking of our part in this, Susan H alternates quotes from King’s speeches and from Gore’s speech today, and ends with these two:

The people of this nation ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating in secret without constraint.

We cannot walk alone.  And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

And then she says:

Pay particular attention to that last paragraph.
I think it's directed at ... us.

This is going to be a very interesting couple of years. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 16, 2006 at 10:10 PM in Candidate Races, Inside Baseball | Permalink

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Comments

I think you leave out Marine Paul Hackett, who is really sticking it to them!

Posted by: Belltowner | Jan 16, 2006 10:40:16 PM

Obama doesn't deserve to be in this post. He's not an outsider, and he hasn't demonstrated anything except a willingness to be cautious.

Posted by: Matt Stoller | Jan 17, 2006 8:10:41 AM

Hmm. Hackett is definitely in the courageous outsider category. And Obama could go either way in my book. Being inside doesn't have to make one an insider but Obama seems to have gotten rather cautious. Perhaps that can change.

Posted by: Lynn | Jan 17, 2006 12:28:38 PM

Lynn --

I appreciate you pulling these ideas -- and info about these individuals -- together like this.

Indeed, we are seeing the ascendancy of the outsiders in politics. And this is a good thing indeed in my book. Of course, I was an outsider too till 2004 --- and consider myself to still be so, though I have joined my local grassroots Dem. organization and its board. This is a story I have heard over and over -- how people have risen to this chhallenge, our seeming slide toward fascism in this country a la George Bush Jr. and Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Noemie Maxwell | Jan 17, 2006 1:26:17 PM

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