From the Left, From the Right: Howard Dean

Joshua Horton

Joshua Horton

From the Left: Dean can pull party back to left

The late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn) was respected for his convictions and his desire to work to give the power of government back to the people. One of the most famous quotes he ever said was “Sometime you have to start a fight to win one.” The truth is that even without this great man, the Democratic Party and the causes of the liberal/progressive movement can continue. The one man I know that can do this and will be in a position to change the course of politics for the next 50 years is former governor and Democratic Presidential Nominee Howard Dean.

Most on the right will try to claim that Dean is too liberal for American politics, that he will not be able to gain the support of conservative democrats and encourage enough support among the party to be effective. Forget all the bull. Dean is the best change that the Democratic Party has to regaining its basic image: the party of the people, the party of protection, freedom, opportunity and community.

During the Iowa Caucus, Dean opened up and talked like a true democrat, never bending to appease the right side of the party. The failure of democrats has been to move to the right, never standing our ground. Dean, with strong Wellstone-like dedication, stood on the left and pulled the focus of many issues back to the correct side, the left side. Even though he didn’t win, John Kerry and John Edwards echoed Dean’s politics.

Dean brings a few things to the table that the party needs to become whole again. He brings a national reputation, good or bad; people have heard of him. People outside of the party will identify him as a leader of the party.

The second thing that he brings is an expertise in fundraising online that no one else can claim, democrat or republican.

The third and most important thing that he brings is a vision to pull the party back to the left side of politics. The truth is that the right has dominated politics in America for many years. In fact, there has been no middle since most democrats have been trying to play to the right. With Dean, the party and nation can be assured that there will be a true middle, because democrats will again become the alternative to strict politics of justice for the few and unequal and an opportunity only for those most deserving.

Do I think Howard Dean is the savior of the Democratic Party? Not at all, but he is the next in the line of those politicians who speak with conviction, who truly believe that the best of people can be realized when we work as a community. He is a fresh start and ready for the challenges of starting a fight. With Howard Dean at the helm, I know that we can begin to win the fight.

Josh Horton is a registered democrat and president of the College Democrats.

From the Right: Dean won’t help democrats win

As a good republican, I celebrate every Feb. 12th. On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln, our first republican president, was born in Kentucky. But this year, republicans had an additional reason to celebrate Feb. 12th. As republicans toasted our success in the 2004 elections, democrats continued their downward spiral of self-destruction: they elected Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Yes, that Howard Dean. The Howard Dean who, as governor of Vermont, made his state the first to accept homosexual “civil unions.” The Howard Dean who was rejected by mainstream Democratic Party activists because he was “too extreme.” The Howard Dean who seemed on his way to being the 2004 democratic nominee for president until he seemed to lose his mind in a speech on the night of the Iowa Caucuses. Democrats lost the 2004 elections because voters felt they were weak on terrorism and out of touch with traditional values. Selecting the pro-civil unions, anti-Iraq War former governor of Vermont to be the chairman of the Democratic National Committee is an unusual response.

As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. Dean will play an important role in retooling the Democratic Party for 2006 and 2008. He will oversee organization of the party, development of grassroots support and fundraising efforts. He will play an important part in shaping the message of the Democratic Party and will be one of the principle spokesmen for his party.

Dean’s supporters believe that his outspokenness and extremism are just what the democrats need. They believe that the democrats lost because they failed to present a coherent alternative to the republicans. When Dean declares that he “hates Republicans and all that they stand for,” these people cheer. Under this reasoning, a move toward liberal extremism will energize the democratic base and demonstrate to voters that the democrats are a party of principle.

Frankly, this does not make sense. In a nation where presidential elections are won and lost in a dozen battleground states and are determined by a handful of independent “undecided voters,” becoming more combative and more extreme seems like a good way to alienate the middle. Sure, you will energize your liberal base; but these liberals were voting for the democrats anyway.

I find myself in the awkward position of agreeing with Bill Clinton. On Thursday, Clinton was the featured speaker at a party for outgoing party chairman Terry McAuliffe. Though he was careful not to condemn Dean or the party’s leftward shift, Clinton patiently lectured the democrats on the lessons of the 1990s. Clinton didn’t win by moving to the left and “energizing the base.” He won by ruling from the center and appealing to moderate voters. If the democrats are interested in occupying the White House in the near future, they might want to consider Clinton’s advice. But if they choose to abandon the former president and follow the former governor of Vermont, good for them. I won’t complain.

Tony Venhuizen is a registered republican and a student representative with the Board of Regents.