The Perfect Fog

The Dean campaign’s Perfect Storm drizzled out tonight in Iowa. I think I know one reason why.

One year at Ohio State, an ideologically driven group went all-out to win the student government presidential race. It had money, it had organization, it had eager volunteers; on paper, it had a formidable campaign.

Its campaign had one fatal weakness, though: The volunteers were so focused on efficiently and passionately pushing their message that they didn’t listen to the people they were talking at. They never noticed the effect their stridency had. The harder they tried, the more they hurt their cause.

Like Dean, this group’s candidate team finished a distant third.

From what I’ve read, the Dean volunteers in Iowa were inspired and uplifted by the experience of sacrificing for a deeply felt common cause, and it pains me to fault their idealistic efforts. But I suspect that they (and Governor Dean) would have been better off if they had been inspired and uplifted instead by the experience of listening to and learning about the people of Iowa.

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