Conservatives don’t give Howard Dean enough credit. While the famous ‘scream’ helped relegate him to the back tier, his campaign helped invent and mainstream the tactics and ideas that took Obama to the White House and that have come to define the Left. The existence of the ‘Squad’ and the Bernie Sanders phenomenon were all born with the Howard Dean campaign. But, much like with Obama, Bernie and Biden, it was really younger staffers and lefty keyboard warriors with netroots who did all that.
Dean was, like Bernie or Biden, another aging lefty politician who embraced the Left for lack of anything better to do. Dean’s Democracy for America was effective and helped build the modern political infrastructure for the Left’s takeover of the Democrats. But its more effective people quickly joined other groups and build their own networks leaving a hollow shell that Dean backed away from even while using the claim that he was acting as an independent consultant to it in his bio.
Now, Democracy for America won’t make it to its 20th anniversary in 2024.
As the liberal group Democracy for America approached insolvency following the midterm elections, staffers faced a related problem: their CEO, Yvette Simpson, was on vacation at a vineyard in California.
Weeks earlier Simpson had told two members of the development team that $320,000 needed to be raised for DFA to make it through the year, according to two former employees. But as the group’s dire financial state started to become clear to staff, she attended a leadership training paid for by the organization and a personal multi-day sommelier education course in Napa Valley, according to five former employees.
So much for the ‘grass roots’. DFA was supposed to harness Dean’s incredible grass roots support. But the grass roots were all in Napa.
Simpson’s leadership, three of the five former employees said, was also complicated by the fact that she held other jobs. She started working as a real estate agent in June and is also an employment and business lawyer at a Cleveland-based law firm and a political contributor to ABC News, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The polite term for this is grifting. There are less polite terms.
There’s a whole lot more here involving Howard Dean’s brother, whose qualifications for all of this, beyond being Howie’s brother, are a little unclear.
Here was how the media and DFA touted Simpson originally.
The progressive political action committee Democracy for America is appointing its first female chief executive as it reorganizes ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign, while Jim Dean will step down from his role as chair.
“After an election year defined by historic firsts and the profound impact women of color played in delivering them, I couldn’t be more excited about Democracy for America’s future with Yvette Simpson as its new Chief Executive,” Dean said in a prepared statement. “Having the opportunity to work closely with the grassroots to help push our country in a more progressive direction has truly been an honor and one of the greatest thrills of my life, but I also know that we won’t be able to achieve the kind of change our country needs if we don’t let a new generation of bold, visionary progressive leaders, like Yvette, lead the way.”
Asked about criticism that progressive groups have failed to reflect diversity, Dean said, “I think this is an important step for us to move beyond that.”
The DFA has moved beyond existing.