An idea for which I offer this cheer: “Push ’em left, push ’em left. Waaaaaay left!”

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who electrified anti-war liberals during the 2004 presidential race, said Thursday he would consider another run for the White House – a statement that will surely be met with mixed reaction in the Democratic Party.

Dean, whose underdog presidential campaign officially launched 10 years ago this weekend, said he has “mixed feelings” about running for office again but added he would consider another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination if he doesn’t think the other candidates are adequately addressing progressive issues that are dear to his heart.

“I am not driven by my own ambition,” Dean told CNN in an interview at the Netroots Nation conference, an annual gathering of left-leaning political activists. “What I am driven by is pushing the country in a direction that it desperately needs to be pushed; pushing other politicians who aren’t quite as frank as I am who need to be more candid with the American people about what needs to happen. I am not trying to hedge, it’s a hard job running. It’s really tough. I am doing a lot of things I really enjoy. But you should never say never in this business.”

Dean has always been popular with activist liberals in no small part because of his fightin’-Dem posture and frankness in communicating liberal ideas that are outside the mainstream of the American electorate. Both can be off-putting to voters, but would no doubt necessitate Hilary Clinton’s aggressive pandering to liberal activists, which didn’t work so well last time (and this time she won’t have Rush Limbaugh GOTVing for her!). Get on it, Howie! On the other hand, Dean’s enthusiasm sometimes translates into taking chances on strategies other establishment types won’t touch, and they’ve been known to work— please see his young tech team, which later birthed Obama’s online juggernaut, and the 50-state strategy, ridiculed at first but now touted as a model by some.

I do appreciate his insistence that Hillary not “get a pass.” She shouldn’t and it’d be unfortunate if she did while our side is having another food fight.

Taylor Marsh, whose site famously became a confab for Hillary supporters in the 2008 primary, concurs with Dean, and points out a subject on which neither Dean nor Hillary will be pleasing the base:

Activists likely won’t be happy with either Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton where the NSA and PRISM are concerned. Here was Howard Dean’s statement at Netroots Nation:

“I am not horrified by the program,” he said. “What I am horrified by is that we didn’t know about it and that the Congress took a pass on it. All these congressmen scurrying about of the limelight pretending they didn’t hear anything about it. They had plenty of chances to hear about it.”

Clinton would likely agree wholeheartedly on the transparency, but I doubt any establishment Democrat would walk away from these programs. Dean advising Obama to speak to the public about the spying is understandable, but he’d have to be a lot more coherent than he’s been so far.

Let’s say for a second Hillary Clinton doesn’t run, which I think is a very small percentage, believing she will be seduced by the call to give the presidency another shot. If she doesn’t run, I agree with Howard Dean, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand should explore her options. There will be others, too, men, of course, but I’m more interested in the possible female candidates.

Hillary Clinton won’t be given a walk to the nomination, if she jumps in. She deserves to be scrutinized and there’s no doubt she will be.

This took place at Netroots Nation, a place where lots and lots of white people gather to discuss liberal policy and how the conservative movement is too white.