Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, February 14, 2005


Here's Dean's acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention, upon being appointed Chairman. The good, the bad and the ugly.

If you told me one year ago that I'd be standing here today, as your choice for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I wouldn't have believed you. And neither would have a lot of other people.

But let me say that standing here with the opportunity to lead this Party, is a great honor.

I am thankful.

I am humbled.

It's true that a year ago, Dean wouldn't have believed he would be Chairman of the DNC. He thought he would be President of the United States. This sounds phony from Dean. He can't mask his ego.

We all know that we're the party of the big tent and new ideas.

Okay, so this is funny. It's clear that the Republicans are the party of the big tent and new ideas. Republicans are pro-life and pro-choice; Democratic candidates are exclusively pro-choice. Republicans include libertarians and nationalists, neocons and paleocons; the Democrats are being straitjacketed into consensus by a leader obsessed with emulated the Gingrich Revolution in reverse. And whereas Bush wants to transform the tax code, the legal system, the Social Security program, the international order, the Democrats are increasingly reactionary and standing for the status quo. This is not necessarily bad for Democrats. Dean could have said, "we're a increasingly united party, defending a New Deal tradition that has served America well." Instead, he lays claim to features that characterize the Republicans. Why?

We know that we're the party for young Americans looking for a government that speaks to them… we know that we're the party for working Americans desperate for a government that looks out for them… and we know that we're the party for older Americans and veterans and members of the Armed Services expecting and deserving a government that honors them.

And we know that no matter where you live or who you are, what you look like or how you worship, ours is the diverse party that welcomes you.

So many constituencies! Who votes Republican then?

But right now, as important as all of that is… it is not enough. We have to move forward. We cannot win if all we are is against the current President.

Good, good...

Republicans wandered around in the political wilderness for 40 years before they took back Congress. But the reason we lost control is that we forgot why we were entrusted with control to begin with.

Democrats lost control in 1994 because they went too far. In the wrong direction. Dean seems to be suggesting that the public stopped electing Democrats because they weren't liberal enough.

The American people can't afford to wait for 40 years for us to put Washington back to work for them.

Who do the Republicans work for then? "Special interests?" (Yawn.)

This week, the Republicans introduced a $2.5 trillion budget that deliberately conceals the cost of their fiscal recklessness.

Their budget doesn't account for the cost of the war in Iraq, or privatizing Social Security. It cuts education, children's health, veterans benefits, and community policing.

As far as I'm concerned, this budget does only two things:

It brings Enron-style accounting to our nation's capital.

And it demonstrates what Americans are beginning to see: Republicans cannot be trusted with your money.

I approve of Dean's attack on the Bush budget, not least because the more Dean slams the deficit, the more conservative pundits will follow suit. (In this article, you could cut Matthew Continetti's contempt with a knife.) But is Dean trying to outflank the Republicans on the right, or the left, fiscally speaking? He complains about "fiscal recklessness." But he also claims about budget cuts. Of course, he lists Social Security privatization as an expense, but there he's a lying scum: Social Security privatization alleviates long-term off-budget liabilities, and it's at worst revenue-neutral and likely to benefit the budget.

I was disappointed that Dean didn't say straight out that he wants to raise taxes. I think tax hikes just might work for the Democrats. Unless Bush can cut spending much more dramatically than he did this term, and reverse course from his first term, his tax cuts are unaffordable, and the American people, denied smaller government, might take the next best thing: big government with less debt.

The Republicans know the America they want… and they are not afraid to use any means to get there.

I am reminded of anti-Semitism in the interwar period. A sinister cabal of blood-sucking profiteers preying on innocent working people... C'mon, Dean, what kind of America do Republicans want? Let's test the limits of what left-Democrats are willing to believe about their fellow-citizens!

We Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we're the only ones who have delivered it.

The first time our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, father of the Democratic Party, who did it. The last time our nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it. Democratic governors do it every single year.

Not one Republican President has balanced the budget in almost 40 years. Borrow and spend. Borrow and spend. Borrow and spend. Americans cannot trust the Republicans with their money.

It was the Gingrich Republicans in Congress, as much as Clinton, who paved the way to the balanced budget of the late 1990s. Wouldn't it be nice if this could be acknowledged as a bipartisan achievement. But Dean's attack here is not without justice. Being able to attack Bush on the deficit credibly is Dean's best feature. (Somewhat credibly, anyway.)

We believe that a good job is the foundation of a strong family, a strong community, and a strong country. We're going towork to create good high-paying jobs here in America, and we're going to keep good high paying jobs here in America.

The protectionist demon rears its ugly head.

And there is no reason for us to apologize for being willing to stand up for our belief that Americans who get up and go to work everyday have the right to join a union.

Unions are obsolete. Yes, people have a right to form them; but these days they mostly prefer not to, and that's a good thing. They distort the economy and are a sure harbinger of industrial decline. One more ball-and-chain the Democrats are dragging from the past...

We believe every American should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens, particularly our children.

Is health care a political issue? And will it ever pay off for the Democrats? The stylized facts about the last decade and a half in politics suggest, No. Clinton's health care plan lost them Congress in 1994. Kerry's health care plan didn't get him elected in 2004. Personally, I don't get it. If I'm sick, it's a private problem, and if I go to a doctor, that's a private transaction. What does it have to do with politics? But the Democrats keep thinking there's some mileage to be had from the issue. Who knows?

We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools.

Ugh. Keep the minorities down! Indoctrinate the religious! Freedom and choice are for adults only!

We believe that every single American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power every day. And most importantly, it ought to be heard by guaranteeing an open and fair vote on Election Day.

There was an open and fair vote. This is really evil. It's important to democracy that losing candidates and parties accept the election result as fair. Dean is undermining that principle.

And finally, we believe that a lifetime of work earns you a retirement of dignity. We won't let that be put at risk by leaders who continually invent false crises to justify policies that don't work… in this case, borrowing from our children and shredding our country's social safety net in the process.

Pure demagoguery.

[I'll skip a bit, it's late...]

We will rebuild our Party because only we are the party of reform. Republicans can stop progress, but only Democrats can start it again.

I've written before that Dean is a "" Let me elaborate: Dean's attitude to Republicans is close to analogous to racism. There is the visceral resentment, the unshakable conviction of one's innate superiority, the habit of treating the Other as an enemy. Dean almost sounds like he is denying that Republicans are American. I can't see how this will work as a party-building strategy. Listening, anyone who has ever voted for a Republican will feel like either a villain or a fool-- or else get mad and decide that Dean is a villain or a fool. If the Democrats are to go from being a minority to a majority party, they will have to attract supporters of the other party. Not alienate them.

And we will rebuild our Party because our greatest strength is something the Republicans can and will never match — the diversity represented in this room.

Bush has appointed two black Secretaries of State and a Hispanic attorney general. A black woman is among the leading Republican presidential possibilities for 2008. Republicans got 40% of the Hispanic vote, and increased their share of the Jewish vote. The Democrats were the champions of diversity in the 1960s and 1970s, and they should be proud that they won so thoroughly that the Republicans have now followed suit. Instead, they are bitter.

I haven't given up hope that Dean will be a net positive for America, by turning up the pressure on the deficit, by eclipsing the left-wing deadweight that drags the party down, by providing energy and clarity. But his faults outnumber his virtues.


  • Republicans got more than 40% of the Hispanic vote. I'm sure of it. I've got to tell you the ones that are shifting from Democrat to Republican aren't likely to turn back either.

    If Bush gets any type of private SS accounts through before 2007, the Republicans will likely get 55% of the Hispanic vote in 2008.

    By Blogger MaxedOutMama, at 5:31 PM  

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