Thursday, January 02, 2003

e.thePeople : Article : The next Democratic Presidential candidate? Howard Dean, M.D. ---- a brief (positive) bio for those of you who asked.

He come's from a small, New England state. He's not a sexy candidate whose mere interest in running causes hours of CNN coverage. He's Howard Dean.

One of his strongest cards is his passion for the environment as governor of Vermont. His foreign policy is an embracing of free and fair trade and active nation building of democracies. Within that framework, he finds a way to put an emphasis on energy conservation and good environmental practices. And he is no foreign policy novice, having visited over 60 nations of the world. Unlike most Democrats, he's been a vocal critic of the current administration's policy in Iraq.

His other hallmark as governor, with more tangible results, is
a leave of health coverage in the state of Vermont. Bill Frist is nowhere near the best doctor/politician to speak on health care needs. Despite being a governor with a
history of deficit cutting and reducing taxes on the state level, Dean still opposes federal tax cuts, in part to create more effect social services, especially in the area of health care.

As governor of Vermont, the NRA gave him an A because his position is that gun laws should be different in different parts of the country, based on the existing local culture. This interest in putting thing local is seen in his view on education, which includes a suggestion that Vermont may give up federal educational funding in order to avoid onerous federal mandates.

He signed the first American state law recognizing gay civil unions, but annoyed homosexuals by approaching it as a run-of-the-mill piece of legislature rather than having grandstanding public ceremony ass-full of symbolism. He's been described as a fiscal conservative. He's the darling of the progressive-minded Democrats on the web.

So, is he the next Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, a no-name governor coming out of nowhere to make an early announcement for a presidential bid, or is he the next Paul Tsongas, a New Englander who is ultimately little more than a sideshow to the real race?

I like him. He's of my mind in many respects, reach for amibitious goals, but do so with manageable steps. He criticizes the Clinton health care plan as too much too soon, trying to improve both access to health care and health care system itself, all in one fell swoop. Dean's plan is to first get everyone access to an admittedly flawed system. Once everyone is all aboard and health care has become an entitlement, then he would go about reform the system. Things like the Patient's Bill of Rights are simple grandstanding. He thinks that the current health care debate right now is about whether or not one can sue an HMO, doing nothing to get more people insured.

I don't agree with Howard Dean on all issues, but I see him as taking manageable steps in many directions. They are the same first steps I would take, though in the end our paths might diverge towards differing goals.

One quote particular marks him as a man after my own heart. "[Republicans] can't tolerate ambiguity, and without ambiguity the world can't survive." The inherent nature of the human condition as other than a black-and-white existence is central to my own philosophy of human nature.

I like him, but I don't know if I can support him for exactly the same reasons that I like him. A Howard Dean presidential campaign may be an attempt to do more than can be humanly done. He may be a quixotic mirage for progressive minded folks. Then again, it may be the right first step. For conservatives, Barry Goldwater ran a presidential campaign that failed miserably, but he inspired legions of followers as if he were the Velvet Underground of politics. The left could use a similarly inspirational figure. Maybe Howard Dean could be that, a leftist who isn't a hippie.
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