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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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Tuesday, January 13, 2004


What Brought Us Here

posted by Dana at Tuesday, January 13, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
In an off-hand link on the O-blog today, Matt Gross reminded me again of what brought us together -- the man and the message.

It is useful, in this week before Iowa caucuses, to look again at what politicians were afraid to say, on February 21, 2003.

It's still inspiring:

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 leaders supporting tax cuts? The question is not how big the tax cut should be -- the question should be: Can we afford a tax cut at all with the largest deficit in the history of the country?

What I want to know . . . is why we're fighting in Congress about the Patient's Bill of Rights when the Democratic Party ought to be standing up for health care for every 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 tax payer behind?

I am 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 50% of the adults that do not vote in today's elections to go to the polls, then we had better stand for something because that is why they're not voting.

Let me tell you what I want to do for America -- and what we've done in Vermont:

I 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 with your money, to take care of your tax dollars, then you had better elect a Democrat because Republicans cannot manage money.

In our state, I served long enough so that I had the privilege of serving through two recessions, not one recession. And when all that money was coming in between the recessions -- between the Bush recessions -- when all of that money was coming in during the good times thanks to Bill Clinton, who balanced the budget without a single Republican vote -- we gave some tax cuts, but we also saved money in a Rainy Day Fund and were able to pay back a quarter of our debt.

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 the budget - including George Bush because in Texas the Lt. Governor balances 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 the agenda is to do something that Harry Truman put into the Democratic platform in 1948. We're going to bring health care 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 against drilling. In our state we've preserved hundreds of thousands of acres, which will always be available for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and canoeing, and will never be developed. The Vermont I left as Governor in January will be the same Vermont a hundred years from now because we have been solid stewards of our natural resources. This President would like to drill on our natural resources.

We can do better.

Let me tell you something else I'm going to do. One of the things 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. 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. 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 "quotas" seven times. The University of Michigan does not now have quotas, has never had quotas, and "quota" is a race-loaded word designed to appeal people's fears of losing their jobs.

I intend to talk about race during this election in the South. 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? White folks in the South who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too.

We're not done yet.

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

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

I looked in the mirror, and I knew that if my political career were about myself, then 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 twelve 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?

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 every 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.

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 healthcare for everybody, and we're going to have an America with its best institutions - right up to the Capitol - 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 November 2004.

In all the games of "gotcha," in all the manuevering, in all the TV ads, Howard Dean has not moved one inch from the statements he made when he got into this race.

Presidents draw lines in the sand, they state their principles clearly, they stand behind what they say. Dean remains consistent, true to himself, Presidential in every way.

No one in Washington today, Republican or Democrat, can make that claim. That's why I'm here, and I think it's why you're here.

Howard Dean will fight for us. Let's fight for Howard Dean.


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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.