Truth is, I don’t much care what Dean supporters will do if he loses the primaries. I think Dean’s veiled threats are pretty childish; they’re also stupid. He’s not gonna tell his supporters to stay home, and the vast majority of them will vote for the Democratic nominee anyhow. I also agree with Atrios on this one, in that the real question is what happens to Dean’s campaign machine.
In the ideal Democratic Party world, he keeps running it on behalf of the primary victor. In our world, he probably tunes it down and keeps it humming so as to keep himself well-positioned for 2008/2012, unless of course he gets the VP nod, which is what he’s angling for when he makes threats about taking his toys and going home.
Whatever. For me, the interesting question is what Dean does with his apparatus if he wins. Dave Winer has been kvetching about Dean for some time now (hm, I wonder why the search function doesn’t catch the first link, there… oh, because Dave didn’t write his own search, he just lets Google do it for him). What it boils down to, excepting the whinging about Dean not using Dave’s software, is that Dean isn’t doing things other than campaigning with his grassroots.
I think that’s reasonable during the election. But what will he do afterwards? He’s got all these people who badly want to make the country a better place, and he has the tools he needs to point them in a specific direction. Will he send ‘em over to be distributed proofreaders? Will he encourage them to run SETI@Home? Will he ask them to join house-building projects?
In my minarchistic view, Dean’s grassroots is the sort of organizational structure that has the potential to enable the kind of government structure I want to see. I don’t fool myself into thinking that Dean’s going to use it like that after the election, but even from the political junkie point of view, I’m damned curious about his intentions.
Dean’s comments are extra-absurd when you realize that a ‘half a million’ people supporting his campaign on the internet (and the million and a half he claims in general) include a considerably large percentage who already were going to vote before he came along and still will if he’s gone.
The true absurdity: Let’s say Al Gore had the 1.5M voters who would have voted for Dean in 2000, but who would not have voted for anyone else but Dean, and add them to his totals.
They’d have increased his portion of the popular vote by… less than eight-tenths of a percent.
Which is a drop in the bucket even compared to the margin of error on every single pre-election “who would you pick” poll, both for Dem/Rep and for the inter-party primaries.
So Dean’s big implied threat is ‘a statistically insignificant percentage of the populace AT BEST’ won’t back anyone else!
You know who had more than 1.5M people vote for him in the last round of primaries nation-wide? Alan ‘Distant Third’s a win to me’ Keyes, for pete’s sake.