It’s political lore that Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign came crashing down the night he screamed into a microphone after losing the Iowa caucus. In reality, the end was clear weeks before. It was guttural, at first; a growing sense that he had to expand his coalition of supporters, followed by the realization that he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“I was giving them something that they deeply valued, which was hope. And to pull back and become the establishment figure I knew I had to become [in order] to become president was really hard to do,” Dean said a few years back. “I had to teach them an incredibly unpleasant lesson, which is that people like me don’t win presidencies behaving like that, that you have to deal with reality that includes a whole lot of people who aren’t progressives, who aren’t nice, who aren’t good about human rights… I knew I had to make the turn. And I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.”
Sixteen years after Dean came to that epiphany, another Vermonter running for the presidency may be having a similar one of his own.