Monday, June 02, 2003
The In These Times Profile http://inthesetimes.com/comments.php?id=206_0_1_0_C
Dean describes himself as an anti-ideological pragmatist. “I’m not an ideologue,” he said in an interview with In These Times. “I think the great problem with this president is that his is an ideological administration. Facts don’t matter to them. I’m a complete pragmatist. I really believe that people who have ideologies that can’t be bent and are insensitive to the facts can’t govern.”
More significantly, Dean—along with Kucinich and Dick Gephardt—strongly advocates making it easier for workers to organize unions, both at home and abroad. “I’ve recently concluded that we ought to allow card check in this country,” Dean says, referring to employer recognition of a union simply when a majority of workers sign membership cards. “It’s the only way to unionize places that pay substandard wages that you can’t support a family on.”
Dean embraces unions as vehicles for bringing poor workers into the middle class. “My attitude toward unions is, at a time when the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and bigger, at a time when the unions in my view have been much more responsible than they were in the ’70s and ’80s when they were mostly interested in protecting high-wage industrial jobs, they’ve really gone out of their way to recruit the people who need the help the most,” he says.
Dean rejects privatizing social security, and he argues that the federal government should give refundable tax credits to low-income workers to invest for their retirement. He also proposes drastically revamping the existing pension system. “Pensions shouldn’t be controlled by corporations,” he says. “They should be independent, controlled by trustees. Corporations would appoint half of them, and labor would appoint half of them.” This would keep corporations from looting pensions, and workers could remain in the same independent pension fund as they change jobs.
Despite his criticism of corporate behavior, Dean rejects the rhetoric of “class warfare.” “I think it’s less productive to worry about how much rich people have than to worry about how much middle-class and working people have,” he says. “I believe that as long as rich people are around, they’ll find ways to get around the rules other people have to follow. That’s one of the costs of living in a capitalist system. The thing to do is concentrate on the 90 percent of people who don’t have what they need and make sure they have it, and not worry about the people who make $500,000 a year. Of course, it’s obscene, but so what?”
“Rather than attacking executive salaries, which I do agree are a real problem, I want to build a middle-class safety net, so that people in the middle class in this country can be sure they’ll have health insurance, can be sure they’ll have opportunities for their kids to go to college,” he says. Beyond raising the minimum wage, he’d expand fringe benefits subsidized by government, much as he did to some degree in Vermont, including expanded child care, affordable housing, and health insurance.
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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.