Stick to Your Guns

by Andrew Wright | 1/23/04 6:00am

I am a political independent. I have conservative leanings. I was born and raised mere minutes from Washington, D.C. But on Jan. 27, I will go to the polls for the first time in my life, registering as a Democrat in the state of New Hampshire to vote for Howard Dean.

I've heard the doubters. I've read the long odds. But it's time to "cowboy up." This is our year. This is the year for Howard Dean.

After a third-place finish in the Iowa caucus, isn't it time to jump from the Dean bandwagon? Haven't we heard the last of his rabblerousing speeches? He's a Washington outsider, yes, and he's angry, no question. Can America really take any more from a bitter, little New Englander? To that I answer: I lived with one all of Fall term, and I think Dean is just what America needs.

In fact, Dean has run one of the most inspired and upbeat campaigns up to this point (along with John Edwards), which shows a lot, considering the amount of heat he has taken at the hands of John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Al Sharpton. But take away all the rhetoric, and I find Dean truly makes the best case for a trip to the White House. Allow me to try to silence the skeptics.

Some question his character, his faith, his family values. Personally, I am not looking for a candidate who shares my religious convictions; that's what separation of church and state is all about. I go to church, but it's of little concern to me if my president does the same, as long as he has strong morals and stands up for what he believes in. Dean believes in being humble. Dean believes in his wife's privacy. Dean believes that freedom of speech even applies to Confederate flags. Most striking, he was the first governor to make civil unions legal. Dean stood up for what was right, even when it was unpopular. There's no doubt in my mind that any of the Democratic candidates have what it takes to make a fine president, but to exclude Dean from that list is absurd.

Still more question his foreign policy experience. After years of the United States telling the rest of the world what to do, I am willing to elect a president like Dean who will listen to other countries and the United Nations. He is committed to rebuilding alliances and, alone among all the candidates, stood staunchly opposed to the Iraq conflict. Instead of looking for reasons to justify a war, Dean actively looks for ways of preventing them. His statement that America is no safer after the capture of Saddam was dead on in my opinion. The proof? A week later, the threat of a terror attack was the highest it's been since Sept. 11, 2001. Now, I'm not an international relations major, but wait, yes I am.

One area in which Dean has a lot of experience is domestic policy. He is the only candidate with experience in an executive role. During his tenure as the Vermont governor, he lowered taxes, created jobs, provided better health care coverage and set a strict environmental agenda, all while paying off an inherited $70 million debt. The first thing he wants to do as president is ensure that the American government is fiscally responsible. No one has a better record in this area than Howard Dean (in fact, one could claim that the candidates currently in Congress have failed miserably as far as spending is concerned).

Not only can Dean beat Bush, he is the best candidate to do it. He has fought hard for followers and consistently placed well in polls across the country. Clark, Lieberman, Edwards and even Kerry can't claim to match this diverse support. Dean has also garnered endorsements from a laundry-list of big Democratic names like Al Gore, Bill Bradley and Carol Moseley-Braun.

But more impressively, and I cannot stress this enough, Dean has attracted a new following; one that was previously uninvolved with the political process. He has changed the way Presidential campaigns are run, and has defied precedent that big money and interest groups are the keys to the White House. In the last election, only 50 percent of those eligible voted. His ability to turn out first time voters (including myself) can and will change that statistic.

In November, I will probably vote to oust Bush no matter who is running. But I sincerely believe that Dean is the man. Why? Because he has taken a stand against Bush, while those other guys have taken a stand against Dean. That is what I see. Call me crazy. Dean will win the Democratic bid, and he will win the White House.