Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Howard Dean Lives! Awkward Thing Happened on the Way to the White House

Today, Howard Dean announced that he would be no longer be actively pursuing the presidency. While I've got a lot of mixed emotions over this decision, it's nothing that I didn’t expect. For the past month, we've been getting bombarded with early obituaries of the Dean campaign in all types of mainstream media. The powers-that-be flexed their muscles, and did their part to to squelch the idealist vision offered by the former governor of Vermont.

There will undoubtably be no shortage of articles in the next few months that will attempt to dissect the autopsy of the Dean campaign. There are three articles I can recommend right now for those that seek the truth about how this campaign unraveled:

The Assassination of Howard Dean
By Naeem Mohaiemen, AlterNet

The Awesome Power of the Corporate Media Power
By The Black Commentator

The Counter-Revolution Has Been Televised
By John Perry Barlow

Today, Howard Dean delivered an excellent speech that I hope many people heard . He talked about a lot of things- his incredible support team, powerful interests that threaten the core of democratic principle, the enormous institutional resistance to change, the power of change, and unions that stand up for what's right with America, as opposed to being poll-driven.

He even provided a little history lesson:

Some of you have been on the road with me or have seen the speeches have heard this before, but it's true. We have been here before in this country. When William McKinley was president, enormous trusts were put together which made it impossible for ordinary Americans to start their own business, make any money without enormous pressure from those trusts, which destroyed their business.

Teddy Roosevelt came along, busted up the trusts and made it possible to earn a living for ordinary Americans and small businesses again.

Under Harding and Coolidge and Hoover, Calvin Coolidge said, The business of America is business, but forgot that human beings are not meant to be cogs in an enormous government corporate machine; that we are spiritual people who need connections and have to have community again.

Franklin Roosevelt came along and took America back for ordinary working people again.

My favorite, however, is this one. In 1824, John Quincy Adams, the son of a one-term president, John Adams... beat Andrew Jackson of Tennessee in an election where Andrew Jackson received more votes.

It was decided in Congress by one vote, electing John Quincy Adams as president.

In 1828, four years later, John Quincy Adams became the one-term son of a one-term president.

On March 2nd, I plan to cast my vote for Howard Dean in the California primary. Carolyn Curtis, a fellow Dean supporter in my congressional district wrote some excellent points that I certainly subscribe to:

Why I am voting for Howard Dean in the California primary

1) To send delegates to the Democratic convention.
As of this writing--after Wisconsin--Dean still has the second highest number of delegates. Big Media and other interested parties would have you believe that states are "won" in primaries. Unlike the general election, in the primaries states are not winner-take-all. In the primaries, delegates are selected and Dean still has the second most delegates.

Most of the delegates have not been chosen; the big states, including California and New York, don't vote till March 2. Dean's name is not coming off the ballot, and in his speech to supporters February 18, Dean told us to send as many delegates to the convention as we could.

2) With these delegates, to send several messages to the party and the nation:
- The concerted effort to discredit Dean has failed; with the battering Dean has taken starting from when he said he'd reregulate the media, utilities, and other large corporations (Hardball, December 1, 2003), to say nothing of fellow Democrats (such as the ad showing Osama and Dean, paid for by Kerry and Gephardt finance men and union backers), it's a tribute to the intelligence of at least some voters and the hard work of the grassroots that Dean's still in second place.

- The 700,000+ supporters Dean has attracted, the campaign built on small contributions from over 200,000 people, is staying together and remains a force to be reckoned with, locally and nationally.

- Candidates who try to sound like Dean should be prepared to deliver.

3) To exercise my right to vote for the best candidate.
First, if you cannot vote your conscience in the primary, when can you? In California, at least, you have a secret ballot and need not fear retribution.

Mainly, though, Dean is still the best candidate. Dean remains the only candidate who has balanced budgets (11 years in a row in the only state that does not require it); delivered health care (99% of all children and 92% of all adults in Vermont are covered); stood up to the Bush regime, particularly its Iraq war, when it was not popular; saved more wild land than all the other governors of his state put together. He's a governor and he's a doctor and he's done it.

Pious pundits pontificate that Dean has restored backbone to the Democratic party, and now he should just go away and shut up, and so should his supporters. The unspoken final clause of this premise is "so that we can go back to the status quo ante," when the Bush junta had full sway over the airwaves, with a backup chorus of Democrats too scared of Bush's media-created "popularity" to get up off all fours.

The whole point of Dean's candidacy was and still is to take back the party and take back the country. That is why the Dean grassroots should not and will not go away. That is why I continue to support everything Howard Dean stands for and why I proudly voted for him on my absentee ballot today.

Carolyn Curtis
outreach, Silicon Valley for Dean

E.P. Wednesday, February 18, 2004