Why Dean Was Right

by Nicholas E. Heyl | 11/7/03 6:00am

To the Editor:

I have listened today to the firestorm created by Howard Dean's remark about appealing to the "guys who drive pickups with confederate flag decals on them." I am appalled not by Governor Dean's statement but by the ridiculous misinterpretations of the remark by right wing talk show hosts and the other Democratic candidates for president.

I have known Howard Dean for most of my life and I can tell you without any doubt whatsoever that there isn't a more inclusive individual in American politics. Dean's statement was aimed at the disenfranchised; the poor southerner, or northerner, for that matter, who feels government doesn't give a damn about him and consequently chooses not to vote. Howard is the only candidate willing to turn all those who feel they aren't heard, whether they be poor southerners, people of color, gays and lesbians or even college students.

These groups tend not to vote, I suspect, because they feel a vote for the classic candidate won't change any of the issues these people care about most. John Edwards knows full well that Howard Dean wasn't stereotyping the guy with the confederate flag as standing for all southerners. Howard Dean is fully aware of what the modern south looks like, and he is merely reaching out to those that no one else has the guts to befriend, just as he did with the gay and lesbian community in Vermont when he signed Civil Unions into law.

How are we as a country ever going to function if great gaps of people are forgotten? Is it wrong to try and appeal to the 50 percent of this country that doesn't vote? It's easy to play to the rich and powerful and desirable, because of what they can do for you.

Howard Dean, for all his life, long before John Edwards was ever heard of, has worked for equality in this country in the true sense of the word. He doesn't hesitate to take a politically dangerous stand is it is something he truly believes is the right thing to do.

I know exactly what Howard meant by his statement and so do all the other candidates. But they're jumping on it and spinning it in such a way that it is they who appear divisive and elite.

Howard, keep standing up for the common men and women, those of color or different sexual orientation, just like you always have. The people aren't going to buy into the arrogant self-serving spin your opponents wish to put on your words. Perhaps we can finally get a president in you who is elected by the American people, not just a fraction of them.

Howard, I stand behind you even more.