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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, February 24, 2003


Text of Howard Dean's DNC speech

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, February 24, 2003 permalink View blog reactions

Following is the text of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean's remarks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting.

DEAN: First, let me thank my wonderful and loyal advance team. (And did you all like the maple syrup and the cheese and all that stuff?

What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq.

What I want to know is why are Democratic Party leaders supporting tax cuts. The question is not how the big tax should be, the question should be can we afford a tax cut at all of the largest deficit in the history of this country.

What I want to know is why we're fighting in Congress about the patients' bill of rights when the Democratic Party ought to be standing up for health care for every single American man, woman and child in this country.

What I want to know is why our folks are voting for the president's No Child Left Behind bill that leaves every child behind, every teacher behind, every school board behind and every property taxpayer behind.

I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

If you want young people to vote in this country and if you want the 50 percent of adults over 30 to vote in this country that do not vote in today's election, then we had better stand for something, because that's why they're not voting.

Let me tell you what I want to do for America and what we've done in Vermont. I do want to balance the budget. There has not been one Republican president that has balanced the budget in this country in 34 years. And if you want someone who can be responsible for your money and take care of your tax dollars, you had better elect a Democrat, because the Republicans cannot manage money.

In our state, I had the privilege of serving long enough so I served through two recessions, not one recession. And when all that money was coming in, in between the recessions, between the two Bush recessions... Well, that's what they were.

When all that money was coming in during the good times, thanks to Bill Clinton's being willing to balance the budget, without a single Republican Party vote, when all that money was coming in, we did give some tax cuts, but we also saved money in the rainy day fund, we paid down a quarter of our debt. And today, not only is the budget balanced in these very difficult times, but my successor does not have to cut health care, does not have to cut higher education and does not have to cut K-12 education.

I'm the only governor running for president, and I'm the only one that's balanced a budget, including George Bush, because in Texas the lieutenant governor's in charge of balancing the budget.

In our state, virtually every child under the age of 18 has health insurance. We made Medicaid into a middle-class entitlement. If I become president with your help, the first item of business on our agenda is to do something that Harry Truman put in the Democratic platform in 1948. We're going to bring health insurance to every man, woman and child in America. I'm the only doctor in this race. And I've done it.

I want an environmental policy in this country that respects and preserves public lands, not drill in them. In our state, we've preserved hundreds of thousands of acres that will always be available for hunting and fishing and trapping and hiking and canoeing. It will never be developed. The Vermont that I left as governor in January of this year will be the same Vermont 100 years from now, because we have stewarded our natural resources. And this president would like to drill on our natural resources. We can do better than that.

Let me tell you something else I'm going to do. One of the things that I thought was terrific about Bill Clinton was that when he became president in 1992, he said that his Cabinet would look like the rest of America. And he did it. And he did it.

I want all of our institutions of higher learning, our law schools, our medical schools, our best universities to look like the rest of America. And I thought that one of the most despicable moments of this president's administration was three weeks ago, when on national prime-time television, he used the word ``quota'' seven times. The University of Michigan does not now have quotas. It has never had quotas. Quotas is a race-loaded word, designed to appeal to people's fears of losing their jobs.

I intend to talk about race during this election in the South because the Republicans have been talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us. And I'm going to bring us together. Because you know what? You know what? White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals in the back ought to be voting with us and not them, because their kids don't have health insurance either and their kids need better schools too.

I'm not done yet. Yeah! Most of you know that six months before my last re-election, I signed a bill into law that made Vermont the first state in America that guaranteed equal rights to every person under the law.

That bill was called the Civil Unions bill, and it said marriage is between a man and woman, but same-sex couples are entitled to exactly the same legal rights as I have, hospital visitation, insurance, inheritance rights. All Americans are equal under the law in our state.

This bill was at about 40 percent in the polls when I signed it, 60 percent against six months before the election. And I never got a chance to ask myself whether it was a good idea to sign this bill or not. Because I knew that if I were willing to sell out the rights of a whole group of people because it was politically inconvenient for some future office I might run for, then I had wasted my time in public service.

Because I looked in the mirror and I knew that if my political career were about myself that I would not have signed that bill. But my political career has never been about getting elected. I didn't even seek the governorship. I became governor because my predecessor died in office 12 years ago.

My political career is about change. And this campaign is about change. What we're going to do here is, we're first going to change this party. Because this party needs to look in the mirror and ask itself: ``Is this party about the next election or is it about changing America--about changing America?''

This party needs to be about changing America, because only by changing America will we win back the White House.

I want a party that stands unashamedly for equal rights for all Americans. I want a party that stands unashamedly for health care for single American. I want a party that stands unashamedly for balanced budgets and taking care of poor kids and voting together and healing the divides, instead of expressing the divides and exploiting them the way the Republican Party has so shamelessly done since 1968.

I need your help. I need your help. We're going to change this party. And then, we're going to change this country. And we're going to take back the White House. And we're going to balance the budget. And we're going to have health care for everybody. And we're going to have an America with its best institutions right up to the Cabinet that looks, once again, like America. We're going to bring hope to America, jobs to America, peace to America. We're going to bring pride to the Democratic Party. I need your help.

Let's go get it. Let's go do it. Let's win the White House in January of 2004.

Thank you very much.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.