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Rudy Takala on Howard Dean, Populists, Socialists, and Liberal Democrats
Rudy is 16 years old.
Howard Dean, a Democrat with many faces
Republicans have been understandably elated over the Democrats' recent decision to elect Howard Dean as the national chairman of the Democratic Party. Dean has a remarkable history of making impolitic statements, and the fact that Democrats impulsively chose the rashest candidate available to represent their national face is indeed a testimony to their judgment.
However, Republicans need to be cautious in how they contribute to defining what Howard Dean is. He is not an extremist. He isn't a sort of demagogic idiot. His politics aren't an exception to those of the standard Democratic constituent, anomalous and misrepresentative of the party. In terms of those who elected him, he is an accurate reflection of his party.
The most recent spectacle of Dean's was an interview on Meet the Press, in which, among other things, he acknowledged the affinity between socialists and Democrats. Tim Russert conducted the interview.
RUSSERT: In your home state of Vermont, there's a vacancy for the United States Senate about to occur. Bernie Sanders, the congressman from Vermont, wants to run for that seat. He is a self- described avowed socialist.
DR. DEAN: Well, that's what he says. He's really a populist.
MR. RUSSERT: But is there room in the Democratic Party for a socialist?
DR. DEAN: Well, first of all, he's not a socialist, really.... He hasn't said that for a while.
MR. RUSSERT: Oh, he has a--he wrote in his book: "Outside or in the House, I am a Democratic socialist."
DR. DEAN: Well, a Democratic socialist--all right, we're talking about words here. And Bernie can call himself anything he wants. He is basically a liberal Democrat.... The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time....
Apparently populists, liberal Democrats, and socialists are all the same thing. To find what "mainstream" Democrats thought of the interview, one could look at responses to it on Democrats.org. One poster on the site commented, "Governor Dean was outstanding in that interview. He turned the issues back to where he wanted them to go over and over. He did a good job and made us proud."
Someone else wrote, "I'm so grateful for a Democrat who doesn't equivocate and who doesn't apologize that I'm positively giddy. Now if our man will just stop bashing Castro I'll probably swoon, too."
Evidently, communist dictators like Castro can be liberal Democrats, too. American Democrats must be interested in the funding they have to offer. As Robert Novak reported in a column on May 19th, "Dean's deficiencies as face and voice of the Democratic Party were supposed to be overcome by his legendary prowess, evident by his run for president, raising funds in small packages. That so far has proved a grievous disappointment. First quarter figures show the DNC received only $13 million from individuals, compared to $32 million raised by the Republican National Committee (RNC). Overall figures were $34.2 million by the RNC, $16.7 million by the DNC."
For some reason, people aren't inspired by Dean to the extent that they want to make monetary contributions to his party.
Russert also questioned a comment Dean made back in February. As Dean had said, "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're the good." Russert asked him if he really meant it. Dean said no, stating, "I don't hate Republicans as individuals. But I hate what the Republicans are doing to this country." He proceeded to talk about how much he hated deficits.
But would he have been so out of accordance with the mainstream of his party if he had remained consistent and reaffirmed that statement? Another Democrat's reply on the aforementioned site went, "Dean and the Dems have to hold their own, and not give an inch. If you negotiate and compromise their evil, you are doing what the British did when negotiating with Hitler. The democracy as we know it is at stake." (You can figure the poor grammar out. The concept that the writer is attempting to communicate, that Republicans are Nazis, remains intact.)
Dean rambled on about morality, saying, "I'm not going to be lectured as a Democrat--we've got some pretty strong moral values in my party, and maybe we ought to do a better job standing up and fighting for them. Our moral values, in contradiction to the Republicans', is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night. Our moral values say that people who work hard all their lives ought to be able to retire with dignity." What he's advocating for is confiscation without constraint of some people's possessions in order to give them to other people. That's usually known as theft; unless, of course, the robber claims to have perpetrated his crime with some noble cause at heart, at which time the robbery becomes known as socialism.
If self-professed socialists are essentially liberal Democrats, then liberal Democrats are essentially socialists. Socialists are essentially thieves, and there's not much distinction between thieves and communist dictators. If Howard Dean and his fellow Democrats want to claim all of these people as comrades in the faith, we should allow them to do so in peace. Their questionable associations should be highlighted, but to ridicule them for such affiliations could cause them to go back to the days when they undertook such dealings in greater covertness.
Republicans sank Howard Dean's nomination as a presidential candidate by gloating that the Democrats' favorite candidate was also the most unelectable. The same mistake should not be made again. Howard Dean isn't a fruitcake. He's just a standard Democrat.
Rudy Takala is 16 years old and lives in Minnesota. He enjoys freelance writing as a hobby. His columns have appeared on more than twenty Websites across the Internet. He maintains a blog at . He can be contacted at RudyTakala@Yahoo.com.