Thoughts on Howard Dean

I went down to the City of Hudson for a Howard Dean rally this afternoon.
While I've always had a favorable view of Dean, I must say I was strongly
impressed by his talk, both the substance and the way he delivered it.

He began with reminiscences of the Civil Rights movement and its contributions
to American life. From there he recalled the sense of community that
flowed from that movement, noting that the policies and attitude of the
Bush administration has generated not community but division, both among
Americans and in America’s relationship to the rest of the world.
Significantly, he noted Bush’s emphasis on “quotas” in his opposition to
the affirmative action case before Supreme Court, saying that Bush chose to
sow division by playing “the race card.” Dean went on to talk about the 3
trillion dollars that Bush has given to his wealthy friends in tax cut
legislation, as well as the billions spent on the war in Iraq, noting some
of the urgent needs to which this money could be applied in the U.S. –
early education, health insurance for all citizens, veterans pensions,
broadband for rural economies, renewable energy, etc. Especially telling
were his comments about the financial and social costs of our burgeoning
prison population which, he observed, are all the more appalling given the
fact that elementary school teachers can identify the four or five kids in
their classes who are most at risk of winding up in jail. Wouldn’t it make
more sense, he asked, to address the problems of possible future prisoners
while they are just young children with obvious needs?

Dean took special care to attack Bush’s record on defense and security.
How are we more secure having destroyed respect for America around the
globe? What good does it do national defense to wreck the kinds of
cooperation that we know are necessary to quell international conflict?
His approach on these key points struck me as sensible and likely to strike
a responsive chord even among those who have supported Bush’s war policies
until now.

At the heart of his message this afternoon was the conviction that the
American people themselves must join together to take back their country
from the clutches of the cynically self-interested Bush cabal. The hope
for renewal must come from the combined efforts of people in communities
like Hudson, New York.

A fairly large crowd listened and responded enthusiastically. Dean came
across as a straight shooter, a man from the heartland with a no nonsense
vision of the country’s problems and possibilities. Speaking with humor
and modesty, he seemed anything but full of himself, a welcome change from
so many of the politicians we hear these days. Win or lose, we are lucky to
have Howard Dean’s voice gaining prominence in the presidential campaign.