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Howard Dean’s Vision October 4, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in politics.
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While Sen. John Kerry stumped around blue states with a rather bland agenda during the 2004 Democratic primaries, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean had captured the imagination and idealism of America’s youth. His no bullshit, less pandering approach convinced the more liberal Democrats that it was time for change… that speaking out against President Bush’s failed and corrupt policies was both good politics and morally sound.

This excitement and hopefulness came to an abrupt halt, however, because of a momentary rush of excitement that was over-analyzed and unfairly treated by the media. Dean’s now infamous ‘yelp’ had officially ended his campaign for the presidency. Despite my disgust over voters who feel a one-time shriek is less forgivable than lying to put American troops into combat, most of us young liberals were thankful for the time Dean shared with us.

Little did we know that Howard Dean would reenter the national scene so quickly. Just a few short months after the 2004 elections, in February 2005, Howard Dean was selected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (despite reservations from many of the Washington elite). His new position at national headquarters would include a function beyond fundraising and handshaking… he was setting out a new vision for the Democratic Party.

Upon taking office, Dean criticized the Party’s focus on Blue and Purple (swing) states at the cost of completely ignoring Red states. Because copious amounts of money was poured into battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado were rarely if ever visited by Democratic presidential candidates and received little help from the DNC.

In comes Howard Dean and the “50 State Plan”. Dean realized, and continues to understand, that many poor white southerners are voting against their own interests because they somehow see the GOP as the party of GOD. Absurd as it seems, Dean and his allies realize that overturning this ill-conceived notion of Republicans-as-Christ could go a long way towards rebuilding the party in the South and West. After-all, does it really make sense that rural southerners are voting for the Republicans who gave tax-cuts to the super-rich, billions of dollars to a failed Iraq war policy and botched both response and recovery after Hurricane Katrina?

Howard Dean and his allies realize southerners should not be voting Republican, and that issues like same-sex marriage, flag-burning and English as the official language should not outweigh issues that promote the health and well-being of their families and country.

Southern states are most definitely winnable, but it will take a vision that extends beyond 2006 and 2008. As a recent New York Times Magazine article points out, Howard Dean’s 50 state vision is quite controversial among Democratic insiders. Dean has his allies, but he also has his enemies (or opponents, to put it more tactfully). His opponents ask why Dean is providing funds for additional campaign staff in Alaska when there are much more competitive districts in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. On its face, it seems to make little to no sense, but Dean truly has a vision for the party.

His vision includes building a Democratic party that may be willing to take minor setbacks right now in order to strengthen itself for the future. Democrats may not win Alaska in the next few years, but with a strong ground campaign they could succeed in 2012 (especially if Republicans remain as arrogant as they currently are). Although his critics believe it is important to win elections to build the party, the Clinton era proved that winning big elections means nothing to the long-term success of the party. America currently has a federal government dominated by conservatives – the legislative branch, executive branch and even the judicial branch (look at Bush v. Gore, for example). And this is right after one of the Democratic party’s most popular presidents left office (so much for party-building via winning elections).

Howard Dean wants to prove that the Democratic party is the values party, not Republicans. While GOP tax cuts help the rich, middle and lower class Americans continue to struggle with rising healthcare costs and the threat of “privatized” social security. It is time for Democrats to stand up to the Republican party’s claim on so-called “values”, and in the long-term Democrats can win the reddest of the red states. It will take time, and defeat could be a temporary result, but the Democratic party will never return to its heyday unless it plans for the future instead of just the next election.

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Comments»

1. Ben - October 5, 2006

Howard Dean is a hero with guts. He is often criticized for being too liberal and such, but he does not change his views. He is not the pandering politician we have become so used to and he gets unfairly attacked for it. Look at all the extreme-right crazies in Congress… Rick Santorum, Bill Frist, George Allen… how often do they get called “too conservative”. It is a double standard.

2. Lizzy Hammond - October 5, 2006

I like Howard Dean, but I must admit his 50 state plan makes me nervous. I understand that we have to think long-term, but with so much at stake right now (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, our image in the world, the deficit, etc.), it makes me worried that we may move funding from this election to focus on the future. I know it puts on in the vicious cycle, because next election we will say the same thing and then never plan for the future. It may or may not be a good idea… time will tell.

3. Howard Dean and the 2006 Elections « News Fit to Post - making social justice visible - November 9, 2006

[…] Governor Dean had faced harsh criticism for his “50 State Plan,” which hoped to make the Democrats more competitive in states considered to be solid red. Dean began building grassroots infrastructure in all 50 states to the ire of many beltway Democrats who wanted more money for close races. Dean was stubborn… and it paid off. […]

4. imparare - April 15, 2007

Interesting comments.. 😀

5. Two Blue Stars by Rio Carrera - June 1, 2009

[…] Howard Dean’s Vision […]


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