John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster: Howard Dean as DNC Chairman - good or bad?
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Howard Dean as DNC Chairman - good or bad?

Howard Dean was recently elected as chair of the DNC. Is this a good thing for America? A friend of mine at, recenlty alerted me to an interesting article by Jesse Jackson regarding this event. The Jackson article is pulbished on the Democracy for America website.

As someone who is not a republican (or a democrat for that matter) who voted for Bush (somewhat reluctantly), I felt it appropriate to weigh in with my two cents.

Let me start by saying that I am not a big fan of Howard Dean, but I think he touches upon a lot of issues that need resolution. I am glad he is keeping them on the table where they can be debated, and their merits and shortcoming examined. That being said, I think his views are a bit too extreme. He is to the democrats what Pat Buchanan is (was) to the republicans. However, I do have some optimism that Dean may actually accomplish something. Although his rhetoric seems extreme, his record as governor of VT seems more moderate. Certainly he has a proven track record as a fund raiser – something that always comes in handy in politics. His real challenge will be to win back the so-called Reagan democrats – those that were recently coddled by Zell Miller.

I agree that the US has to move toward the moral center. The debate arises in just how we do that. In our age of partisan politics, the party seeking power is almost always against the initiatives of the party in power – regardless of the of virtue of their cause. This is evident today in the Democrats vs Bush, and it was apparent in the prior administration in the Republican vs Clinton. I suppose that politcal practicality mandates this, but it does not justify it.

It is in this light that I view Jesse Jackson’s column. Jackson offers no solutions - just a laundry list of criticism and complaints. Some of his statements, while casting some shadow of truth, are misleading. For example, I believe that he is being disingenuous when he states that “…conservatives wanted to maintain slavery… did not fight legal segregation… did not march in Selma”. Statements of this nature are divisive, not unitive. By analogy to our present system, conservatives is a euphamism for republicans. It is not my intention to suggest Jesse Jackson is the only person who employs this tactic (most politician do). I am simply trying to illustrate that statements like this are made to polarize people by suggesting that the republicans are morally bankrupt by linking them to shameful aspects of our collective history. When the Republicans came on the scene, they were put forward as an alternative to the loyalist Whigs. We should not forget that it was the party of Lincoln (i.e. Republicans) that ran on an anti-slavery platform. Similarly, many of those “conservatives” who did not march in Selma were Republicans, as well as Democrats (I don’t recall George Wallace or “Bull” Conner being there).

Its also misleading to suggest that during the Clinton era, when the democrats were in power, that all was well in the country. Let us not forget that the recession that we are still emerging from started on their watch. That is not to say that Clinton was a failure in terms of running the economy. On the contrary, he did a pretty good job for the most part. I think the Republicans can learn a lot by implementing similar policies in our present economic climate.

And this thing about the Florida election – the democrats should drop it. It is not relevant anymore. There were problems with the ballots in Florida - that’s a fact! Both parties were trying to get the problematic ballots thrown into their pile. To me, that is unobjective and unfair. Count the valid votes and move on. If a problem exists with Florida elections, fix them – don’t blame the candidates. As far as the Supreme Court getting involved, that is a different issue – a bunch of “political dick-waving” if you ask me. It was really a state issue (not a federal issue) that should have been handled in Florida. Both sides, with their “dream teams” of lawyers, are responsible for getting the Supreme Court involved. Some even suggest that, Florida aside, Gore should have won because he had more popular votes. Again, I disagree. It is precisely this that the electoral college was established – it guards against regional bias in the election. The issues that affect the coasts are not the same as those affecting the south, the midwest or the plains.

As far as the economy goes, I think this is one area where Dean and the democrats have a valid argument. There is indeed much too large a gap – a “canyon” if you will – between the rich and poor. Skewed distibutions in wealth have historically been linked to downfalls in economies. However, on the flip side, welfare states don’t sustain economies very long either. I think it was Pliny who said something along these lines, (paraphrasing) "Economies fail when people learn that they can vote themselves benefits from the treasury". On this issue, I don’t think either party has a realistic plan. The Republicans contend that their economic policies are designed to stimulate investment and job growth. That idea certainly worked for Reagan. The downside is that it widens the gap between rich and poor. The Democrats contend that the wealthy should foot the bill for entitlements that would give the poor and middle-class a sorely needed economic boost. This money would ultimtely be collected in the form income taxes. The downside is that would take money away from investment, and slow job growth. I am not sure what a working solution would look like, but something more along the lines of eliminating income taxes and establishing a sales tax may be more appropriate. This way, distributing the tax burder would be more evenly cast, and those who consume more (the wealthy) would pay more taxes.

The war in Iraq? WMDs? Imminent threat? Whatever! The fact is that Bush needed to go into Iraq. Did he believe WMDs existed, or that and imminent threat was there? I think he did. But I think that is only part of the reason he went in. Equally if not more imortant to the Iraq situation are oil and stability in the middle east. Let us not kid ourselves, oil (and other energy sources) is the driving force behind the US economy (and those of just about every other country for that matter). Iraq, via it's invasion of Kuwait, was attempting to get a stranglehold on the mideast oil supply – not enough to control all the oil, but just enough to be able to manipulate and destablize the market. This was viewed by the US (correctly or incorrectly) to be a major destablizing factor to our economy and our “way of life”. Thus Gulf War I. Through its non-adherence to UN sanctions and other actions, it was believed by many that Iraq was attempting another run at this. Then came 9/11. 9/11 represent a single event that caused $Trillion hit to our economy. Another such blow, be it terrorism or some other source, could spell disaster for the US. So potentially destablizing forces, be they expanding terrorism or Iraq manipulating the oil market, could not be tolerated. Thus Gulf War II. In addition, I think it is a widely help opinion that stablility in Iraq (and Afghanistan for that matter) could serves as a lighthouse for stability in the region, which is good for all involved.

So where is the moral center on Iraq policy?

That is not an easy question to answer. Anytime one goes to war, their will always be ethical dilemmas. Innocent people will always be killed. But lets not fool ourselves. Iraq before 41 and 43 (i.e. George and "W") was not, as Micheal Moore will have us believe, a place where children flew kites and ran around carefree. Something needed to be done. Sanctions were tried, by the UN had no backbone to enforce them (or was being bribed not to enforce them) – so they ultimately failed.

On the flip should, we should not be fooled by the “humanitarian” face that has been put on the Iraq wars. Wars are - and always have been - about two things, money and power. If humanitarianism were really the issue, why do we do or say nothing about the Saudis? So if you want to know the real reason for the war, follow the money trail!

I think the real question we all have to ask oursleves concerns our “way of life”. Why do we consume so much energy in the first place? It is this gluttonous consumption that causes our reliance on foreign oil. In addition, our capitalistic greed has also led us to suck the lifeblood out of many foreign countries. We go in like leeches and extract as much as we can, while providing very little (if anything) in return. And who says that imperialism is dead! The beast still exists, but in a different guise!

Anyway, back to the point…The new DNC Chairman is being summoned to move the democratic party back to the moral center. The question remains whether or not Dean is the man for the job! Will Southerners forgive him for remarks he made during his presidential campaign when he said they should base their votes on something other that "race, god, guns and gays”, or by implying that those who fly the Confederate flag were racists? I think this is a tall order for Dean, but I think it is something he can indeed accomplish. He is a very charming and charismatic leader. In this world of “what have you done for me lately”, people become forgetful of the past if they like what they see in the present, or what is beign offered in the future. If Dean can offer solutions to the problems that plague our current political and economic climate, he will be successful. To do this, I think he has to move not only to the moral center, but also to the political center. It worked for Bill Clinton, and he was the only Democrat to be elected to a second term since FDR. Dean would be wise to heed the sentiments of Zell Miller, who speaks for many people whose support the Democrats sorely need.

Anyway, that’s my two-cents.

BTW, when did the take the “cent sign” (the little “c” with the line through it) off the keyboard?

Also, check out his web-site if you get a chance.

Take care,


Post a Comment

<< Home