Just when it looks like the Democrats are finally ready to reject their accommodating past and nominate Howard Dean, a candidate who time and time again has unashamedly stood for democratic principles, the world turns upside down. Sen. John Kerry wins Iowa. And New Hampshire. And is on track to win the majority if not all of the Feb. 3 states. What the hell happened? Do people actually know who this guy is that they are voting for?
Remember the war in Iraq? No Child Left Behind? The trillion dollar tax cuts? The USA PATRIOT Act? Kerry criticizes these on the stump very frequently. He voted for every single one of them. What about that abomination of a Medicare bill that passed with such a small margin? Kerry opposed it and rightfully claimed that the “bill is less about prescription drug benefits and more a prescription to benefit big drug companies.” He missed 36 of the 38 votes for it. Kerry claims that he can deliver healthcare to all Americans. Of the 11 healthcare-related bills that he sponsored, zero passed. Now Kerry has joined the rallying cry against the special interests that have poisoned Washington’s political atmosphere. Just two days ago, The Washington Post ran an article that revealed that Kerry “has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years…” I could go on about how Kerry only beat his Republican opponent in the 1996 Senate race by a margin of 7 percent in a state that has an 84 percent Democratic majority (The Daily Free Press, Oct. 22, 2002), but I think that’s sufficient.
In contrast, Dr. Dean has a solid record of accomplishment that distinguishes him as the most electable, viable challenger to George W. Bush. He served as Vermont’s governor for 11 years, winning re-election to two-year terms five times. He balanced 11 consecutive budgets, and in the process raised Vermont’s bond rating from the lowest in New England to the highest. He delivered health insurance to 96 percent of all of the children in his state and created a real prescription drug benefit for its seniors. On his watch, every child born in the state had the option of receiving a home visit, and child abuse fell by 45 percent. He succeeded in permanently setting aside 8 percent of the state’s landmass so that it could never be developed, and did so in conjunction with the National Rifle Association.
During this presidential campaign, Dean has managed to turn quite a few heads. He introduced new campaign finance reform by raising over $40 million, a new Democratic Party record, with average donations of around $77. He’s won endorsements of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Service Employees International Union and California Teachers Association unions, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, and he even brought together former Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley, the two men who waged a bitter primary in 2000. Most importantly, he has the courage to stand for what he believes in, even when those positions are politically unpopular. He was the very first to denounce the war in Iraq, and he did so when well over two-thirds of the nation supported it.
That said, he is no peacenik. In fact, he supported the war in Afghanistan, and unlike Kerry, in 1991, he stood with President Bush and the majority of Congress when we sent our military into Kuwait. He has advocated that we spend more money on homeland security and does not want to slash our defense budget.
I could continue to make the case for Dean, but I think I’ll close with the wisdom of President Clinton. “I’d also like to say that whatever it is that Howard Dean knows, or whatever it is that he eats for breakfast every morning, if I could give it to every other Democratic office holder and would-be office holder, we would immediately become the majority in the Congress and we would have about 35 governors. I have to tell you, I think a big part of it is just producing for people, actually doing what you say you’re going to do at election time.”
Adam Graff is a junior microbiology major.