Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Howard Dean for President

I attended a Howard Dean rally in Austin last night and I was blown away. Dean is a charismatic speaker with vivid, clear ideas about where this country should be going. He's a member of that nearly extinct species - the old-fashioned liberal Democrat. His record as governor of Vermont speaks for itself: a balanced state budget (that's stayed balanced despite the economic downturn), civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, and state health insurance which covers 99% of Vermont's children. Last night, Dean spoke eloquently about the need for guaranteed universal health care, equal rights for all Americans (regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexual preference), and increased funding for education. In the years that I've been eligible to vote, Dean is the presidential candidate who comes closest to my position on the majority of issues.

Of course, none of this matters if he can't beat Bush. But after last night, I'm beginning to believe he might be able to. Dean drew an enthusiastic crowd of over 3,000 people last night, to a volunteer organized rally that was planned in just 10 days, primarily using the internet. The fundraising goal of $10,000 was met before Dean began speaking - the total donations exceeded $15,000. These are phenominal numbers for this early in the campaign and they speak to the momentum that's gathering around Dean.

Dean's using a drastically different strategy than most of the Democratic hopefuls - one that hasn't been used in several election cycles - he's running as an unabashed liberal. He doesn't try to play down his record, or to kowtow to the Republicans - he's calling them on the mistakes they've made, and he's proudly flaunting his liberal credentials. Given that Gore could have won with a clear majority if he'd had the Green vote, this strategy makes perfect sense. It's time for Democrats to stop being ashamed of what they are, and proudly embrace their progressive roots. We need to play to our strengths, not hide them in an effort to appeal to conservative voters who aren't going to vote for a Democrat anyway.

I believe Dean is a candidate who can unite the Democratic party and bring disillusioned liberals who voted Green in 2000 back to the fold. I also believe that he can beat Bush, and repair some of the damage the Republicans have inflicted on this country. I urge you to find out more about Dean and if you like what you see, tell others about Dean, donate money to his campaign, and volunteer.


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