I've been supporting Dean for president in 2004 ever since I heard he was running, now more than a year ago, and I've been actively volunteering since this winter. He's the second presidential candidate I ever remember really liking in my life (I don't count Carter in 1980 because I didn't really have a clue at the time), and I like him a whole lot more than the other one (Larry Agran in 1992).
In case you're not familiar with Dean, he was governor of Vermont for five consecutive terms, from 1991 until this past January. He didn't run for a sixth term, so he could devote all his time to running for president. At the end of his last term, he was the longest-serving governor in the country. Before being governor, he was a doctor, and ran a practice with his wife.
As governor of Vermont, Dean took a state in terrible fiscal crisis and brought stability, balanced budgets, and reduced debt. He expanded health care coverage to one of the highest rates in the nation, with coverage for pretty much all children, and free home visits for families with newborns. He preserved large amounts of land, and cracked down on pollution. And he signed the civil unions bill, giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples, during an election year, while it was unpopular. He risked his re-election bid for it, stood by it, and won.
I see in Dean a real chance to turn the country around. Despite starting with no campaign funds, hardly any national name recognize, and no nationwide organization or political connections, he now has what I think is the largest nationwide volunteer organization of any presidential candidate ever this early in the campaign. Unlike Kerry or Gephardt, Dean believes in being a Democrat, and doesn't weasel. Unlike Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley-Braun, Dean has the power to inspire people who didn't start out agreeing with him, to support him, and he has the experience to prove that he can be a good, effective chief executive.
The Dean campaign has already completely transformed the Democratic primary campaign. Kerry and Gephardt would never have dared to come out in favor of expanding health care to all Americans, or cancelling the Bush tax cuts, if Dean hadn't made those positions popular. Criticising the war on Iraq used to be considered something a "serious" candidate couldn't do, until Dean started opening every speech he made by blasting the Democratic party for supporting this war. The power to redefine what a campaign debate is about, is the power not only to win elections, but to change the country.
Dean demonstrated this when he stood by civil unions in Vermont. When he first signed the bill, it was a polarized issue with only about 1/3 support, but not only did Dean win re-election with a comfortable margin and civil unions in the spotlight, civil unions also became supported by the majority of Vermonters. I wouldn't be surprised, if Dean wins, to see them happen in several other states within the next decade. Dean can change people's minds on the issues he stands for.
He is deeply knowledgeable on many issues, articulate, practical, and able to express himself in reasonable and convincing ways. He's smart. Look how well he did being interviewed on a cell phone while in an airport boarding a plane: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16059
So, in summary, I think Dean can save this country. If you're not yet convinced, go watch that speech :) You could also read some postings in the howard_dean community. Or ask me a question, or make a comment - I'll answer when I get back from this roadtrip.
If you are convinced, and want to help out, there are several things you can do, some of which don't cost any money. Dean's campaign is grassroots and self-organizing. Right now, the most important thing you can do is register to vote in the MoveOn primary. Registration closes tonight at midnight. Voting opens tomorrow, and if Dean gets more than 50%, MoveOn will endorse him. That would be a huge boost.
Some other things you can do...
- Email your friends today about the MoveOn primary!
- Sign up for Dean Meetup: http://dean2004.meetup.com/
The next meetup is July 2nd. They happen all over the country.
- Get on the Dean mailing list: http://www.deanforamerica.com/site/PageServer?pagename=emailSignup
If you're in Massachusetts, also sign up for our statewide volunteer organization, MassForDean.
- If you do have money to contribute, do :) Add $0.01 to your contribution to show that it came from Internet organization (such as my LJ post :)
- Post about Dean in your LJ