Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is accelerating the pace of his bid for president by trying to raise US$1 million before midnight tomorrow, ostensibly to match the enormous sums in big donor money being raised by President Bush during his highly specious, month-long vacation. This is a repeat of the stunt fundraising that the Dean campaign employed earlier in the year, when supporters unexpectedly raised US$500,000 in response to a challenge to match the US$300,000 then being collected from wealthy special interests by Vice-President Cheney.
It’s no secret that the Dean campaign has been getting progressively bolder as its fortunes rise, but this million dollar gambit is not only an act of political hubris but also a symbolic demonstration that individual donors — and voters — can successfully challenge the monstrous Republican money machine. Hopefully. The results are being posted hourly (or almost hourly) at DeanforAmerica.com, and even if the final total falls short of seven figures, it will be a substantial monetary boost and a nontrivial rally.
When I donated my US$25 this morning, the figure sat somewhere around US$450,000. As of 10:00p this evening, the officially tally is just over US$677,00. That figure is the result of over 11,300 individual contributions of, on average, US$59 each. Which means that, roughly, some three thousand voters donated two hundred grand in the past twelve hours or so — a stunning statistic. A few weeks ago I worried for the flirting-with-disaster quality of supporting Howard Dean, but with each day that worry subsides a bit.