After Howard Dean racked up his 17th straight loss in Wisconsin Tuesday, he lauded his supporters for the positive change they have brought to the Democratic Party and its presidential campaign.
He was right about that.
From the high point of his game, when he was leading in the polls and endorsed by Al Gore, to perhaps the bottom, when he gave that "I have a scream" speech heard round the world, Dr. Dean invigorated what might otherwise have been a lackluster race.
Dean showed remarkable ability to inspire not only the Democratic base, but a large number of individuals who were turned off by politics as usual and looking for someone who wouldn't hesitate to take on the status quo.
Democrats can thank Dean for his ability to mobilize thousands of politically disconnected and disaffected, who saw in him what many saw in Ross Perot and John McCain - an independent thinker not afraid to speak his mind.
His supporters recognized this long before other Democrats began to take on something mostly considered taboo, or at least politically risky - the president's war on terrorism. Indeed, Dean paved the way for his fellow Democratic candidates to more openly challenge Mr. Bush on the war in Iraq.
The Dean campaign's skillful use of the Internet for both grass-roots organizing and campaign financing also teaches lessons to the GOP and Democrats. His ability to raise small contributions using the Web has opened wide a new channel for political fundraising. And as the first Democrat to opt out of public financing, Dean also set a trend.
Even though he stumbled with remarks like, "The capture of Saddam has not made America safer," and turned off voters in Iowa with negative ads against rivals, notably Dick Gephardt, don't forget he's got a fair number of delegates and could have more than a little say at the Democratic convention in July.
Front-runner John Kerry still needs to clarify and expound his stand on issues. With John Edwards coming in a close second to Kerry in Wisconsin, and Dean likely to keep pressing for change within the Democratic Party, the American people are served well by Edwards and Dean continuing to let their voices be heard.