Thursday, January 19, 2006

''Howard Dean's speech to Democracy Bond owners in Columbus''

"I think most people in America know what's bad about the Bush administration. But I can spend a little time telling you what we're going to do about it and ask for your help. We are remodeling the Democratic party--you're going to see a very different party in '06 and '08. And it comes from a lot of the experiences I had in the campaign. Because we started out, as you know, in a state of 600,000 people, and 160,000 in the bank, and you built the campaign. A lot of you here *were* with me, and we learned to trust people who were out in the states and out in the communities, to do what they needed to do, and we felt that they knew best what to do in their own communities. And so you built our campaign from the bottom up. And it was an extraordinary experience because it made me understand that centralized government and centralized anything is not the most effective way to govern a country. It's not even the most effective way to run a presidential campagn. So, with that in mind as I took over the Democratic National Committee almost a year ago, we decided that we needed to invigorate this party. And let people know that they own the party. The idear, since I didn't get the job of my choice, was to change the country by first changing the Democratic party, and then changing the country through the Democratic party. And so, with extraordinary people like Mary Jo and Mary Ann and others who have been so wonderful, we are doing this county by county and precinct by precinct.

We started off first with the state partnership program. We are paying for staffers in every single state, and we have them in every single state now, and they're on the DNC payroll, but they're picked by the local parties, we train them. And their obligation is, one, they've got to sign on for four years. We want the *party* to be strong. We don't want these folks to get good and then go off and work for a governor or a senator. Two, they have to be diverse. They have to look like the people whose vote we're asking for. The state parties haven't been so good about that always. In Texas for example, they have one state organizer in the whole state party who's Hispanic, in a state which is 40% Hispanic. Three, we train them. They come to Washington, usually for two to three days, and we'll continue to do that. So, everybody knows what the techniques are around the country. And four, there has to be a Democratic organization in every precinct in the state, in every precinct in America.

It has become socially unacceptable because of the propaganda of the right wing, to be a Democrat in about a third of America's precincts. Just like it was socially unacceptable to be a Republican about 40 years ago in the South. We can't do that. We're not going to do that. And it's not a hard thing to fix--I learned that from my campaign too. There was a woman in a place called West County Missouri, which I wasn't familiar with, but she told me it was the most conservative county in Missouri. She said, "You know, I was a campaign supporter of yours, and we decided we were going to have a Democratic party in West County Missouri. We hadn't had one for a long time. So I had my friends over, and three of us sat in my kitchen, and that was the Democratic party in West County Missouri. And today, we have 250 people meeting every week. There are Democrats everywhere. Our job is to make sure they're willing to stand up and say so. And that's what these organizers are going to do in every single precinct. We lost Ohio in the rural areas because we didn't get out there. There are Democrats all over in rural Ohio, everywhere. We just didn't get out there and let them be proud of who they were. So that's the number one thing--every single precinct.

Now, the next thing we're going to have is a synchronized voter (bar?) and I'm not going to get into all that because it's technical, but we have to do it. Mostly it's infrastructure. But the next thing we have to do is have a unified message. Now we have done a lot of work on the unified message. I'll tell you what the difference is. We're going to pick up 2 or 3 or 4 seats, or 5 in the House this year. And we're going to pick up 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 seats in the Senate. But we're going to take the House back, the United States House of Representatives back if we can nationalize this election and have a unified message. And you don't have to take my word for this. Newt Gingrich proved that was true. The way we lost in 1994 after years of domination, was the Republicans finally figured out that in order to win, you have to not be like the other party. Because even when America wants change, if they have to choose between two parties that look the same to them, they're not going to make that change. We need to differentiate ourselves from the Republican party and be clear about what we stand for (applause). Because America wants a change, and they can't have a change without having a choice. And it's our business to provide them with a choice, and that's exactly what I intend to do. And that's exactly what I'm hoping the Democratic party is going to do.

It's not easy. The Washington folks, they get complacent, they enjoy their life. They don't enjoy their life in the minority very much, and that's where they are now. The truth is, nobody cares what Democrats say in Washington right now, because we're in the minority. In the House, I don't care what Hillary Clinton said--she was right. The fact is, they are treated like dirt, and you know who said that first? It wasn't Hillary Clinton, it was Newt Gingrich twelve years ago. It's true, they get treated like dirt. It is outrageous. FIfty percent of Americans have been disenfranchised in this country by the right wing, who don't believe fundamentally that they are to represent Americans. They only believe they are there to represent themselves. And we think that the other 50% deserves some say too, and when we get back in power, we're actually going to listen to those folks.

When I was governor, I believed that everyone was my boss. Including the Republicans who didn't vote for me, because they were part of the hiring process. So when I had meetings around the state, I used to include everybody. If they asked me some tough questions, they asked me some tough questions. I got paid to answer them. Imagine the embarrassment having a president of the United States who only lets people talk to him if they already agree with him ahead of time. You wonder why this country's in trouble? It's because the president doesn't respect half of us. That's what we're going to change. And when we get back in power, we're going to reach out to those folks who disagree with us, which is what I'm going to ask you to do right now.

There's two things I need you to do. One is to get a Democracy Bond if you don't already have one, which I know a lot of you do. Go to, and we ask you to sign up for what you can afford--ten or twenty or thirty dollars a month. If you're a wealthy attorney, give us a hundred or two hundred dollars a month. Whatever it is, it gives us a steady stream of income and it buys back America from the special interests. The only special interest that matters, is you. And the only special interest that we ought to raise our money from is you. If we've got a million people giving us $20 a month, that means that we don't ever have to depend on any special interests, or any money that there might be some quid pro quo for. Now the truth is, most of you know me well enough to know that there's not going to be a quid pro quo anyway. Because if they want one I say the quid is over there out the door and you can take yourself with it. But we need that sustaining membership of ordinary Americans to make this party work. The truth is, we are the party of ordinary Americans.

The second thing I need you to do, which is in some ways even tougher... It's fun to come here when we're all of like mind, and maybe we can have a little fun at the president's expense. But what we really need you to do is reach out and talk to those who didn't vote with us the last time. People who disagree with us. Because the truth is, we have something in common with a lot of those folks.

Evangelical Christians. People think they're all Republicans--it's not true. Because their values include making sure no child goes to bed hungry at night. A lot of Republicans are cutting school lunch programs. Their values include not leaving more debt to our children than we found ourselves. The Republicans are the largest borrow and spend thrift group I've ever seen. The largest deficit in the history of the country and going up. Evangelical Christians believe it is immoral to treat the earth that God gave us the way that this administration is. That's something that we have in common.

In fact, there's a lot that Americans have in common. You know what the greatest sin of George Bush and his administration is? It's not the Iraq war. And it's not even the enormous budget deficit which going to hurt us for years and years. It's the fact that he has chosen to deliberately divide America in order to win elections. To separate ourselves from each other. He's done more harm to this country, even than his lame-brained foreign policy, his incompetence in terms of the budget, by being willing to use divisive tactics to win elections. We can't do that any more, and when we get back in power we're not going to do that, because it's bad for America. (Applause.)

So I need you to reach out to people who you maybe don't know very well and who don't agree with you. Now, I'm not talking about the hard right, the intolerance of the hard right. But I am talking about a lot of the people who vote for them. Because, guess what? They're not that different from us. I'm going to tell you one quick story and then I want to get on to finish this up. When Katrina hit, there were a lot of people at the DNC who had relatives and friends there and so forth. It was a very upsetting time as you can imagine. It was upsetting even for those who didn't know anybody there, to see how incompetent the federal government was in dealing with it. It was a really bad time at the Democratic National Committee. So we shut down our fundraising operations because we didn't think it was proper to raise money for politics while that kind of thing was going on. And we said to everybody, we will pay your salary for three weeks if you feel like you need to go down to the Gulf and help out.

So, a bunch of people did, including two young women who work in our finance department. And they went down there and they got teamed up with five ladies from the Southern Baptist Conference. Now, for those of you who know anything about the Southern Baptist, they're a somewhat conservative, to put it mildly, denomination, who often have preachers who preach that it's a sin to vote for Democrats. So, these two young ladies from the finance department sort of had a debate among themselves, "Should we tell them who we work for?" And they decided they would, in the interests of standing up for who they were. So they fessed up that they worked for the Democratic National Committee, and they sort of got this reaction, and thought that maybe they were thinking the word "Satan" when they heard that pronouncement. But everyone got along pretty well, and they were handing out food and water to people who really needed it. At the end of the time, one of the women said, "You know, we're all here together, and we're just trying to do things for our fellow people.

Now, I'll tell you why this is important. About a year from now, I can tell you that when these ladies from the Southern Baptist Convention go back to their home churches, some pastor in that church is going to stand up and say it's a sin to vote for a Democrat. And they're going to think back to the two young women who worked for the Democratic National Committee and say to themselves, "Now, wait a minute. I know two Democrats who work for the Democratic party. We were all in this together when we worked together." Personal experience trumps what the pastor tells you, and personal experience even trumps what your parents tell you."-excerpted from the post on Howard-Empowered People.

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