Dean: Democrats' values are America's
July 17, 2005
Salt Lake Tribune
By Mike Cronin
Divide and conquer: The DNC chairman said Bush rules the country through division and petulance
Though College Republican protesters showed up to say Howard Dean doesn't reflect American values, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee begged to differ.
During a free appearance Saturday at Westminster College, the former governor of Vermont told an audience of more than 600 that most Americans believe what Democrats believe: Everyone should have health insurance. A woman has the right to decide whether to have an abortion. All people deserve public education. Government should be smaller and less intrusive. Elections must be tallied with accuracy. Social Security is a necessity. Exclude no one from equal benefits - even if they are gay.
"We're Americans first," Dean said to a crowd that overflowed the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory Concert Hall and two other rooms. "It's immoral to divide Americans. We are one family."
Audience members applauded like people attending a State of the Union address: loudly and every few sentences.
Dean reiterated his point in many ways. "We are a community . . . we have to be responsible for each other."
The problem is President Bush and the Republicans have instead used divisive tactics to govern - and to win votes, he said. "You can't rule America by petulance."
Rather, leaders must embrace those who disagree with them. Unlike Bush, who ignores the 48 percent who didn't vote for him in 2004, elected officials have to reach out and solicit opposing viewpoints.
"When I was governor of Vermont, I thought of everyone as my boss," he said. "I didn't always like it when someone disagreed with me."
Still, sometimes the other side has good ideas. "And, I'm proud to say I took some of those ideas and made them mine," Dean said as the audience laughed.
He insisted universal health care is possible in the United States, citing several countries such as Holland, Italy and Sweden that already have it. "Why can't we do it in the richest country in the world?" It wouldn't be free for citizens because "we can't afford it," he said, but it could be done.
Dean said Bush is attacking Social Security and it is "an attack on us," saying each generation of children has the responsibility to take care of each generation of parents.
Afterward, Lion Gallegos, a 25-year-old from West Valley City, said the DNC chairman "hit on the way a lot of people are feeling today." Though Gallegos wanted to hear more from him about a global plan to generate more jobs for Americans, he said, "I don't think the Republicans have an idea, either."
One idea that College Republicans Josh Daniels and Marc Garner say Dean has dead wrong is that Democrats can unite this country. They were among a small group who stood outside the hall with signs. They passed out copies of Dean quotes that appeared as divisive as any.
Two examples from a January story by The Washington Post's Dana Milbank: "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for" and "Republicans are brain dead."