I really wanted to like this profile, but in the end I didn’t. The article lurches forward on a few assumptions: that the primary fuel for the Dean campaign is liberal rage, that Dean is a protest candidate and little else, that the Democratic establishment doesn’t get Dean or his appeal, and that Dean – despite his aura of McCain-like “straight talk” – is actually a calculated politician who is campaigning without a platform.
Here’s the thing – nearly none of that article summarizes why I’m supporting Governor Dean, what I see in his campaign that has converted me from an armchair Democrat into a political activist, or what I believe is wrong with the Democratic party right now. None of it.
Here’s what I see in Governor Dean:
- He’s passionate. He understands that a candidate should not earn your vote, he should inspire you. With inspiration comes hope, with hope comes action. This is why 27,000 (and counting) people have signed up at Meetup.com – he has inspired these people (myself included) to act. (Note: from the time I started writing this to the time I finished, 48 more people have joined the Dean Meetup. Amazing.)
- He’s articulate. When my wife and I hosted a fundraiser for Governor Dean last month, he fielded questions for more than 45 minutes. He hit every issue – from immigrant labor to voting rights for DC – square on the head. He didn’t waffle, and he took sometimes unpopular stands. But he addressed the questions asked, and communicated a coherent vision for what values should drive American policy at home and abroad. When Matt Bai (author of the Times profile) finds one supporter who can’t articulate Governor Dean’s position on gun control, he goes on to conclude that everyone must have blindly adopted the “he talks straight” without really understanding it. Bai is wrong – I’ve heard Governor Dean speak, I’ve watched the reaction of those hearing him for the first time, and I’ve listened to people articulate their disagreements with his policy in one breath and declare their support for his candidacy in the next.
- He’s smart. I don’t know how the country decided it was a good thing to have a President who’s no smarter than your neighbor. Scratch that – I do. Many voters – understandably, in some cases – equated President Clinton’s intelligence with his belief that he could think himself out of any crisis, thereby minimizing the long-term risk of those crises. As a result, we’ve got the “noo-clee-ur” President who disdains intellectual debate. You know what? I want a smart President in the White House. I want to know that they’ll think through a situation and come at it from angles I haven’t thought of. I never want an ounce of doubt that we as a country made a decision because my President lacked the intellectual curiosity to avoid the easy answer and find the right answer. Governor Dean has demonstrated he not only has the skill, he has the desire to ask hard questions and understand the nuances that permeate many of the hardest political issues today.
- He’s strong. When Andrew Sullivan reveals that Governor Dean has a “mean streak“, I am glad. Principled individuals who are willing to infuse their actions with tenacity are individuals I want on my side. This is one part of the Times profile I appreciate – Rob Reiner’s quote about Governor Dean: “This mother is tough.”
I’m not a liberal by a long shot. I’m a Democrat, one who believes that a balanced budget and an inclusive foreign policy that treats allies as equals are two critical elements of a successful Presidency. Beyond that, a responsible tax policy coupled with a coherent fiscal policy would be nice. And as long as I’m asking, why not ask for an administration that sees the Constitution as our founding document and not just a set of suggestions?
I want my country back. Howard Dean is the man who will get it back.