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Dean again

Howard Dean announced today that he would stop campaigning, which effectively marks the end of his run for the Democratic nomination. One small part of his remarks today really jumped out at me, though:

You have the power to take our country back so that the flag of the United States of America no longer is the exclusive property of John Ashcroft and Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell; that it belongs to all of us again.


That's exactly how I feel these days. Four years ago, the U.S. flag was something I would have gladly called the symbol of my country, a country I was proud to be born and raised in. Now, the flag seems more like the symbol of the conservative, arrogant, narrow-minded anti-people government of the U.S.A., and it's no longer something I want to be associated with. They've corrupted the flag so that it stands for their particular right-wing Christian viewpoint instead of the greatness that it used to. I feel ashamed when I talk to people who live in other countries, because of the way Bush has treated the entire rest of the world.

And I just realised every time a car drives past with an American flag in its window, I think "there goes another poor fool, tricked into thinking this country is great by the president's pathetic, moralistic, guilt-driven rhetoric." And I hate it that I think that. When I see someone displaying a flag, I want to think "that person knows exactly how great this country really is." But I can't any more, because right now, this country isn't great.

Howard Dean's message was simple. He wanted the government to be about the people in this country. Not the corporations in this country, not the military of this country, not the strength of this country, the people themselves. He wanted laws passed that would guarantee equal rights to every citizen, regardless of any of their differences,be it race, gender, religion, sexuality, income, or anything else. He wanted to make sure that every single person here would have adequate health care. He did it in Vermont, and he could have done it in D.C., but people were too shocked by the fact that he yelled excitedly at a rally to give him a chance.

As much as I'd like to see Dean continue to get votes in the upcoming primaries, and perhaps even gather a few more delegates despite not actively campaigning, I know that won't happen. The public has a dreadful attention span, and by the time Super Tuesday rolls around, Dean will be all but forgotten by everyone except his active supporters. However, I think that his message has come across well. Kerry and Edwards have both adopted Dean's stance on several issues, quietly making parts of his message their own, and that right there is a small victory.

Here's to more victories in the future.

Comments

westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 09:48 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
(And I just realized I responded to one of your points in this comment in my previous comment. Sorry for making things even more confusing. I hope you can follow all this!)

And, as much as you may extoll the virtues of the electoral system, more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, so if Bush wanted to close that divide he should have been damn careful to listen to the people of this country rather than his own beliefs.

But popular votes don't elect the President, the electoral college does. Similarly, land area does not elect the President, but I believe it's been established that, in terms of land area, a greater portion of the country voted for Bush than voted for Gore. But what does that mean? Nothing. And popular votes, alas, don't either. I would expect you to rake me over the coals for making the argument--had Gore won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote to Bush--that he should do what Bush would have wanted. That's a dangerous game to play, I think. (And, of course, if all the voting irregularities from all over the country had been counted and tallied as zealously as they were in Florida in the days/weeks following the election, it's quite possible the numbers would have been very different anyway.) I think we need to look at what happened, not what might have happened.

As it is, he's driven a wedge into the country, making the divide much wider than it was, and as the polls are beginning to finally demonstrate, people don't like that gap.

I don't see Bush as being responsible for that gap. That's a gap that's existed as long as Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to starve children or the elderly with their policies and Republicans have accused Democrats of not caring about national security because of their policies regarding the military. Bush didn't create the gap and he didn't expand it any more than any politician who has painted a picture of the country that doesn't necessarily represent the way things are.

Maybe, but if I just roll over and let every person I see who has been misguided by this administration keep believing what they believe, then I'll go even more crazy.

Again, this is not functionally different from what you said before. "People who don't agree with me are stupid and deluded, not thinking for themselves." I think that's also a dangerous road to go down. Perhaps people have examined the situation with great care and delicacy and have merely come to a different conclusion than you have? I don't see why someone who doesn't agree with you has been "misguided." I think there are plenty of thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated people out there who agree with Bush's actions. Whether you consider me one or not is not really material, but I know a number of them, and I don't like their intelligence and rationality being called into question for disagreeing with the opposition any more than you like conservatives painting those who don't agree with them as unpatriotic.

And I believe that following this President on the path he's on is harmful to everyone on the planet, so when I see people who wish to follow him, it seriously frightens me.

And there are many times that it frightens me that people think we should be content to sit back and do nothing as a response to the acts of horror and terror that have been done to this country, and many others. There are a lot of policies that you and other liberal Americans support that make no sense to me from an intellectual or emotional standpoint--affirmative action, abortion, taxes, and others--but I can't deny or discount the fact that people believe these things, and I can't just completely write them off because they do. I don't like to see anyone doing that, as that's something I feel is also wrong for the country and will make the gap you speak of even greater.

But, hey, at least we agree there is a gap--that's a place to start, at least. :)
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 12:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
But popular votes don't elect the President, the electoral college does.

I know. I already acknowledged that point.

But what does that mean? Nothing. And popular votes, alas, don't either.

Ah, but they do. Each popular vote means that exactly one individual human being in the country wanted one specific person to be President. So while Bush may have won the electoral vote, it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President. I'm not looking at what might have happened. I'm saying that when an election is this close, the one who is elected should realize that it's important to try and reconcile the two groups. I don't think Bush did that. I think he pursued his Republican agenda as doggedly as possible, and as such has alienated many of those who didn't want him in power in the first place. If he had won by a landslide, it wouldn't be such a huge issue, but since it was so close, it became a very fine balancing act -- and in my opinion, Bush leapt off the high-wire after his first few steps.

Bush didn't create the gap and he didn't expand it any more than any politician

Somehow, "he didn't make the problem any worse than anyone else does" doesn't sound like much of a defense. He should have worked to narrow the gap. As much as I want to see more liberalism in the government, I do realise that moderation is necessary in a country this size. I don't think Bush worked towards that cooperation between parties at all, and I consider that a bad thing.

"People who don't agree with me are stupid and deluded, not thinking for themselves."

See, I tried to choose my words more carefully than that. I said "fool," "tricked," and "misguided" to indicate that I just consider those people to have been deceived, not that they're any less intelligent than I. John Kerry admits he was deceived by Bush in the Iraq matter, and so I don't trust his judgment on foreign affairs, but I think he's an intelligent man.

A professor I know said, "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, that doesn't mean their opinion isn't completely wrong." I understand that people may have thought carefully about the entire matter and chosen to trust Bush in this matter. However, I've thought carefully about it too, and come to a conclusion that I believe is correct. Therefore, as much as I respect that other people have reasons for their opinions, I can only conclude that if their opinions don't jive with mine, they must be at least somewhat incorrect. Since I know that Bush has been deceitful, I feel that these incorrect opinions aren't formed because of stupidity, but because of trusting a deceitful man.

This doesn't mean I'm not open to hearing arguments about their opinion. If someone can clearly show me why my opinions are predicated on fallacies, or why theirs support the facts better, I'll gladly take that into account and modify mine accordingly. So far, nothing has convinced me that what I believe is wrong.

should be content to sit back and do nothing as a response to the acts of horror and terror

Why are you taking things to the extreme like this? It's not a black and white issue. The options aren't "war on terror" vs. "do nothing." I don't know, nor have I heard of, a single person who thinks we should have done nothing in response to terrorism. Nor do I know a single person who says we should have completely ignored the situation in Iraq. It's that kind of "you're either with us or against us" stance, which seems to be taken by many Republicans, that makes all of this an issue. They've made it seem that if you display the flag, you're proud of what our government is doing. That's what Dean meant.

(For what it's worth, I'm against affirmative action -- I believe the problem could be solved much, much earlier in the educational process, with better effect in the long run. But now's not the time for that discussion, I guess.)
westernactor
Feb. 19th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
So while Bush may have won the electoral vote, it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President.

No, it's not. It is a fact that of the American citzens eligible to vote who made the decision on that one day to go and vote, and then had their votes correctly counted, a larger number of them voted for Gore rather than Bush. But given all the voting irregularities in Florida alone, there's no way to know how many people actually wanted Bush for President, let alone thought they were voting for Bush for President. However, that's irrelevant. As things stand now (and stood then), Gore got a larger number of popular votes than Bush, but Bush got more electoral votes, which means Bush is the President.

I'm not looking at what might have happened. I'm saying that when an election is this close, the one who is elected should realize that it's important to try and reconcile the two groups.

But, see, that's what he tried to do. By turning over the education bill to the Democratic Party. By passing a prescription drug bill like they wanted. And so on and so on. Bush has done everything possible to make Democrats like him and follow him, and it hasn't worked. All it's done is make the people who like him angry for doing things that aren't in their best interests. We can argue all day (and I think we have!) about whether Bush has done it successfully, but Bush has tried to unite the country, and we're no less divided now than when Clinton (and George H. W. Bush and Reagan and Carter and...) was in office.

If he had won by a landslide, it wouldn't be such a huge issue

I'm sorry, but I don't believe you believe that. I don't think you would be less outraged by Bush's actions had he won 49 states in the electoral college and 99% of the popular vote.

He should have worked to narrow the gap.

Again, he's tried. Very hard. But it hasn't happened. I don't want to get into a blame game about why it hasn't happened, because it's not relevant and it's all opinion anyway, but it hasn't. We agree on that, at least.
rfreebern
Feb. 19th, 2004 08:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Uh...
the American citzens eligible to vote who made the decision on that one day to go and vote

As long as we're discussing political matters, I think those American citizens who didn't choose to vote can freely be left out of any equations. If they didn't vote, their opinion doesn't matter in this arena.

You seem to be defending the fact that Bush won the election. That's not what I was worried about at all. I'm merely stating that a larger number of actual human beings cast their votes in Gore's favor. I understand how the electoral college works, and I freely acknowledge that Bush got more electoral votes and therefore the presidency. But it doesn't change the fact that more actual people in this country voted to put Gore in office than Bush.

It's pretty much immaterial, though.

I'm sorry, but I don't believe you believe that.

Well, if he had won by a landslide, then I think I'd be living in the wrong country. So it wouldn't be such a huge issue because I'd be elsewhere. :)

westernactor
Feb. 20th, 2004 04:45 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
As long as we're discussing political matters, I think those American citizens who didn't choose to vote can freely be left out of any equations. If they didn't vote, their opinion doesn't matter in this arena.

I'm not disagreeing with you on this matter. But your original statement was (and I'm quoting): "it is still a fact that a greater number of actual human beings wanted Gore to be President." And that, in itself, is not a fact. I was simply defining the terms more exactly, that's all. But we essentially agree.

But it doesn't change the fact that more actual people in this country voted to put Gore in office than Bush.

No, it doesn't. What was the total number of people (under the specific circumstances) that voted for Gore above the number of votes Bush received? Approximately 500,000? Which is, unless my math is seriously screwed up, about one-tenth of one percent of the people in the United States. So, what Bush's responsibility is to them, above and beyond the number of people that actually voted for him, is also something that can always be argued.

I just don't like treading into this area. Using individual vote counts to say something should or shouldn't have happened policy-wise seems pretty dangerous to me. Because I'm pretty sure that Bush (and, by extension, Gore) received more votes in 2000 than Clinton did in 1992 and 1996... Does that mean, then, that his authority should not be greater than Clinton's was? No, of course not. But when you start playing the numbers game this closely, isn't that the type of conclusion that one can, eventually, reach all too easily?

No President ever represents the opinions or desires of all the American people... That's the nature of what a representative republic is, so it's something that--I think--has to be accepted, regardless of what the actual numbers say about what happened. Whether Bush or Gore got more votes is, as you say, completely immaterial. All that matters is that Bush is the President (or, all that matters is that Gore would have been the President), and I think that when someone gets in that office (or any office) he should be given a certain amount of latitude in his discretion about these things. Our disagreement in this discussion stems from the fact that you feel betrayed by him and I don't. Not a problem. But to say he betrays all the people who didn't vote for him when the numbers are so close... I just don't buy that argument. And it seems to come up a lot; I know a number of people who say, essentially, that because Bush didn't win in a landside, he should have done the types of things Gore would have done. But these people (Democrats/liberals all, it should be mentioned) would likely not have thought the same things had the positions been reversed.

But again, all this is basically immaterial.

Well, if he had won by a landslide, then I think I'd be living in the wrong country.

See, there you go again. You don't want to live in a country that would vote for someone like Bush... I just don't know how to process a statement like that mentally, I'm sorry. And I know you don't mean it the way it sounds, but I have to tell you, it doesn't sound good.
rfreebern
Feb. 20th, 2004 07:15 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
I think what I'm trying to say is that any elected official, while obviously having to represent the majority that elected him, should, to be fair and compassionate, also take into consideration the opinions of the minority that didn't vote for him.

You claim Bush did try to do that. I don't think throwing a few token bills to the Democrats is nearly enough, especially when the election is so incredibly close in the first place. He's completely trampled over our positions on nearly everything else, and alienated nearly everyone on the left. It's a sure-fire way to shoot yourself in the foot come re-election time.

You don't want to live in a country that would vote for someone like Bush...

Well, like I said, I believe Bush's positions and goals are harmful to every single person on this planet. He's shown total disregard for the environment (Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, ANWAR drilling), for human life (war), for civil equality (anti-gay-marriage), for privacy (USA PATRIOT Act), for education (NCLB), and so much more. He loves playing with his soldiers, though! "I'm a war president!"

And I wouldn't want to live in a country where a large majority of people support that kind of behaviour.
westernactor
Feb. 20th, 2004 08:49 am (UTC)
Re: Uh...
Well, as we talked about on the MUD, I think the discussion is starting to wind down now, but with regards to a couple of things:

for human life (war)

This might start another firestorm, but while I don't believe Bush wanted to go to war, I believe that the war against Iraq was necessary for the preservation of human life, which does not strike me as one of Saddam Hussein's concerns.

for civil equality (anti-gay-marriage)

I think Bush's position--and the position of quite a few other people--is that there's more to being against gay marriage than being against civil equality. This is yet something else we're probably not going to agree on, but I think it goes a lot deeper merely than it's being portrayed. While I, personally, don't have a problem with it, I can see where both sides of the argument are coming from, and to blame Bush for this is really not accurate or fair, the way I see it.

And I wouldn't want to live in a country where a large majority of people support that kind of behaviour.

The problem is the way you're defining it, I think. You're looking at these issues only from your perspective and saying, in essence (the way I'm reading it), that you don't want to live in a company where people don't feel exactly the way you do about those things. But I've heard arguments about ANWAR that suggest Bush is only interested in drilling for oil in one very small segment of the entire area, and not opening the entire thing to free drilling. Under controlled circumstances in a controlled location in but one small part of that area, I don't see why that drilling should automatically be shot down, but the issue is being presented as Bush wanting to taint the environment of the entire place, who wouldn't disagree with that?

It all comes back to different groups of people using different languages to describe essentially the same thing, and though the groups are all speaking English, they aren't really able to communicate. No one side is presenting all of the facts publicly, and they're choosing not to acknowledge what's less than convenient for them. While it would be best if that didn't happen, I don't think there's any way to prevent it, which is a shame. But what can you do beyond sift through the available information and come to the best conclusion based on the available evidence? Not a lot.

I've mentioned this before, but I think one of the reasons I like politics is very similar to one of the reasons I like theatre: I love the idea that two people can look at exactly the same thing and see something completely different, and both be right and both be wrong.

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