Does Howard Dean Help the Democrats?

Okay, disclaimer time. I am aligned politically with the Republican party. Not so much because I agree with the party platform 100%, but because I am more closely aligned with them on most issues (although I’m more libertarian – with a small ‘L’, not the kooky Libertarian party.)

I was never too impressed with Howard Dean during the campaign leading up to the 2004 Presidential election. I never much saw his allure but I could acknowledge that given the field he was running with, Howard Dean was a somewhat of a standout and he effectively pulled the other “front runners” to the left. I would rank him third behind Dick Gephart and Joe Lieberman if I had to choose from the 9 Democrat candidates for President. In his new role as DNC chairman, I get the feeling that Dean is good at firing up the base and that’s about it. Given some of his recent remarks, he’s not going to pull anybody from the center and he’s certainly not going to pull anybody from the center-right into his corner.

He made a speech to the “Take Back America” conference some of which was just simply stunning. I’d like to point out something that I whole heartedly agree with Howard Dean on:

And we need to have a positive agenda. We can’t just say — talk about the all things — we can’t just talk about all the things that are wrong with George Bush’s presidency, although I happen to have a list of them right here in front of me. We really have got to talk about what we’re going to do differently.

Absolutely! The entire 2004 Presidential campaign between Kerry and Bush in a nutshell was Bush presenting his ideas and Kerry saying what a terrible job Bush was doing about everything yet never offering what he would do differently in any detail.

And this morning we’re going to talk about a number of things, but I want to start by talking about pensions — pensions and Social Security. When the president — you know, the president rules by polls.

Bush absolutely does not “rule by polls” as Dean says. Want proof? Take a look at Social Security policy (remember, it’s the third rail of politics — touch it and you die.) Take a look at stem cell research. Take a look at steel tariffs. All of those issues were not popular with either the Republican base or with the majority of voters. Yet Bush staked out his position and implemented it.

And it wasn’t enough for the president to try to wreck the public pension system that we had. It wasn’t enough for him to try to turn over Social Security to the same people who brought us Enron — his good friends and political contributors — that wasn’t enough.

Bush wants to change Social Security from an entitlement to something you own. By doing so he will take the power/money from the government and let the people that earn it keep it. That way the individual can provide for their own retirement rather than depending on their grandkids and their neighbor’s grandkids to pay for it. I think there is a misconception (and I heard it a lot from Democrats in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential campaigns) that money contributed to Social Security goes to a special box, a “lock box”, that has the taxpayer’s name on it. Bzzt. Wrong answer. Thanks for playing. All of that Social Security money, the 6.2% that you contribute and the 6.2% that your employer would otherwise be paying you, goes right into the the federal government’s general fund. There is currently a surplus (more Social Security money coming in than going out) but that is projected to change in 2017. What happens then? It will be a crisis then when some super valuable Federal Program needs to do with less money to make up the shortfall. Now, the personal accounts don’t do a thing to fix the solvency in the short term (short term being the next 20-30 years) but it does for the long term. Those short term fixes will have to come from a benefit rollback, pushing back the retirement age, raising taxes or raising the ceiling on the amount of income that can be taxed. I suspect it will be the ceiling on income that is raised and I’m fine with that. Do I want to keep 4% of the 12.4% that I contribute to invest it so I can provide for my own retirement and my own family’s financial security? Hell yeah I do!

“The same people who brought us Enron” are Wall Street investment firms I guess. Those same people that Dean says brought us Enron also manage my 401K (mutual fund and an index fund) and I don’t have any complaints. Also, if I remember correctly, Dean’s father and grandfather were top executives at Dean Witter Reynolds (now part of Morgan Stanley I think) and they got fabulously wealthy from investing on Wall Street. Guess your dad and grandpa brought us Enron, huh Mr. Dean? Now I don’t want to visit the sins of the father (and grandfather) upon the son, but come one. Pot, kettle, black…

I used to say during the campaign that if you want campaign finance reform, don’t wait till politicians do it, just go out and do it yourselves. Send us 25 bucks on the Internet. We need to train Americans to do that.

Most of the Republican hard money in the last election cycle came from individual donors giving $200 or less. The same can’t be said about the Democrats where most of their money came from union donations (collected via dues.) Not to mention the ungodly amount of soft money going to “527” groups. Most of that money came from Democrats like George Soros and Stephen Bing. But I do agree that campaign finance reform should have money coming from people. As much as they want to give along with full disclosure about who is giving it.

??You — you know, the idea that you have to wait on line for eight hours to cast your ballot in Florida — there’s something the matter with that. You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever, and get home and then have a — still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives.??

I guess I must be one of the few Republican’s that has made an honest living by working hard and taking care of my family. Again, keep in mind that this is trust fund baby Howard Dean… But what I really don’t get is the waiting in line 8 hours to vote. Personally, I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes to vote. If it really takes that long to vote, haven’t these people ever heard of absentee balloting? Anybody with the IQ of a snapping turtle will figure out, “Man, I waited in line a long time last year to vote. I think this year, I should do something different.” Maybe they waited in line a total of 8 hours by voting 16 times?

The rest of the speech wasn’t as bad. I disagree with Dean’s assessments of the state of things and I am doubtful that the Democrats will actually offer leadership versus the status quo of saying, “Republican’s are eeeevvvviiiillllll so vote for us” any time soon. I do however hope that they do start offering ideas and solutions to problems that they see rather than only saying, “No” to any idea or solution simply because it was proposed by an eeeeevvvvviiiillllll Republican. There’s nothing that keeps you on your toes like a little healthy competition.

Hopefully Dean is at least a good fund raiser because he doesn’t seem to be the best spokesman for the DNC.

UPDATE
Howard Dean stuck again with this quote from the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people. They’re a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same and they all look the same. It’s pretty much a white, Christian party.” Amazing…


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