Excerpt: Despite my general fan-hood of the good Doctor, I had never seen him speak live before, so I had to give it a shot. I got lucky today and managed a front row seat to the Howard Dean show. The show did not disappoint.
So today I went to an unanticipated session lead by Howard Dean. I remember liking him from the first words I ever heard him say over a year ago: "My name is Howard Dean, and I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." What chutzpah. What balls. Just to tell it like it is.
Despite my general fan-hood of the good Doctor, I had never seen him speak live before, so I had to give it a shot. I got lucky today and managed a front row seat to the Howard Dean show. The show did not disappoint.
Dean had three basic messages
1. You can't win if you don't run.
According to Dean, "voting is the bare minimum. You can't win if you don't run." He urged all of us to run for office and shared the stories of a 21 and 26 year old who are campaigning for congressional seats. I usually get a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about running for office (kinda like the way McDonald's food tastes to me after reading Fast Food Nation), but Dean made the idea sound like a no-brainer. Don't worry yourselves, folks. I'm not running for anything now. Besides, I hate kids, and you can't be a good politician by hating kids.
2. Challenge with a progressive message even if you don't think you'll win
This is where I think Dean actually represents something a bit different from most of the political voices we manage to hear. He complained that Democrats too often write off entire states or districts or counties because they perceive no chance of winning. I'm sure Republicans do the same thing. We've all witnessed the fun re-districting efforts reinforncing this silent collusion. However, Dean's point is this: take the message everywhere.
How can we expect progressive ideas to win over the country if we're afraid to promote them to the people who disagree with us? He points to the Gingrich "revolution" as evidence that Republicans tried this and succeeded in many cases. According to Dean, the Republicans promoted ideologically unacceptable candidates in several rounds of elections until finally enough of the citizenry just wanted something different. I didn't matter that they didn't buy into the candidates beliefs. To them, Washington was broken and needed some new body in there to fix it.
3. Just what is that message anyway?
I like the way Dean broke down the different messages from the two parties, and I think it's pretty accurate. "The Republicans run on guns, God and gays. We've got to run on national security, jobs, health care and public education."
Dean claims we win every one of those four issues and need to articulate that.
On national security, we're no safer after the toppling of Saddam than before. In fact, we've created more terrorists in and out of Iraq
On jobs, nuff said. We've lost many, and Republicans have put their foot in their mouths by advocating outsourcing
On health care, Republicans forced through a scandalous prescription drug care package that cost more than publicly revealed and does little to actually help seniors afford medication
On public education, Republicans want to drain public funds into private schools with vouchers
While I don't agree with him on all the justifications for the issues, I think he has the right ones. Moreover, the larger point is that democrats (small d) and progressives HAVE issues. It is so clear that the right is in a desperate position.
By relying on the so-called "cultural" issues of gay marriage and gun rights and God, they are performing the standup comedy equivalent of a hack dick joke after it became clear they were losing the crowd.
I hope and actually think that America wants a bit more for its tax dollars than dick jokes.