Something funny happened on the way to the October 7 California recall election. As political pundits focused their attention on the impending demise of Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, a former East Coast governor from the Davis wing of the Democratic Party emerged as the almost prohibitive frontrunner for that party’s presidential nomination.
Many Democrats, apparently, would like to see former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean do to America what Davis did to California.
In a Zogby International poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters released August 27, Dean had a whopping 21-point lead over Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. In a Des Moines Register poll released on August 3, Dean already had a 23%-to-21% lead in that state over Democratic Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.
If Gephardt loses in the Iowa Caucuses on January 19, his presidential campaign is over. Same goes for Kerry in the January 27 New Hampshire primary. If Dean wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire, he may well be unstoppable on the road to Boston and the Democratic National Convention.
That is splendid news for Republicans and President Bush.
He’s No New Democrat
Dean drove to the top of the Democratic field by driving his party even further to the left. He outflanked his opponents by making unapologetically left-wing appeals to the unapologetically left-wing Democratic base. He makes no pretense of being a new Democrat. He harkens to the days of Mondale and McGovern.
Bless his left-wing soul.
If the general election in the fall of 2004 pits President George Bush against former Gov. Howard Dean, the nation will be presented with the clearest referendum on basic issues since President Reagan faced off against former Vice President Walter Mondale in 1984.
Dean’s appeasatory foreign policy, highlighted by his opposition to removing Saddam Hussein by force and by his unending criticism of the President’s policies in Iraq since U.S. forces occupied Baghdad, is well known. But so far, the left-wing nature of his views on other issues has not gotten as much exposure.
Here, then, is a primer on Dean’s views drawn entirely from documents proudly posted on his campaign website:
“I will begin by repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts . . . .”
“. . . I’m prepared to look at reasonable options for expanding the ceiling on payroll taxes.”
“We should begin by raising the minimum wage. . . .”
“The Dean plan offers health insurance to all uninsured Americans. . . .”
“[I]t is urgent that the United States take steps to reduce the emissions that cause global warming. The place to start is with our power plants and cars. . . . We can and must strengthen the Clean Air Act to curb the emissions of all these pollutants from power plants, including the carbon dioxide that causes global warming.”
“In an act of diplomatic and environmental petulance, President Bush gave the back of his hand to the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, he squandered much of America’s moral authority. On issues such as global warming, population growth, and overfishing, we have missed opportunities to demonstrate America’s ability to lead. Pollution doesn’t stop at the borders and neither should environmental policy.”
“In 2001, President Bush said he would work with President Vicente Fox of Mexico to develop a new immigration policy that recognized the economic contribution of immigrants, particularly those from Mexico, and that would respect the human rights of these migrants. . . . While he made these promises and invited mariachis to play at the White House, his Attorney General John Ashcroft was deputizing local police authorities as junior INS agents to track down undocumented immigrants. . . . [Bush] has ignored the dreams of millions of immigrants to become a legitimate part of our society, and not simply its unseen workforce. . . . I will work to ensure that people who work hard, pay taxes, and otherwise obey the rules can become full participants in our society, including becoming citizens.”
“I will push for an expanded federal paid family leave law similar to the legislation already passed in California.”
“As governor, I appointed more women to positions of leadership than in any other state in the nation and nearly 50% of my judicial appointments were women. At one point, the percentage of women appointees in my Administration exceeded the percentage of women in Vermont.”
“I’ve stood firmly against past legislative proposals that would require parental notification and chip away at the rights granted by Roe v. Wade. In my presidency, such slippery-slope proposals will be met with fierce opposition.”
“I am delighted that the Supreme Court has upheld the principle of affirmative action in education. . . . As President, I would pursue policies that encourage racial diversity on college campuses . . ..”
“The proposed law, which purports to make California colorblind, would just make the state blind. . . . It is wrongheaded and I oppose it.”
“One of the most outrageous attacks on a woman’s right to choose is the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion bill. . . . That is a direct challenge to the logic of Roe v. Wade and every other Supreme Court abortion decision in the last thirty years, including the recent case striking down a Nebraska law almost identical to the bill that passed the House. Make no mistake-Republicans in Congress want to challenge the Supreme Court. . . . President Bush may soon have an opportunity to nominate one or more members of the Supreme Court, and the legal rights of women hang in the balance.”
“I’m proud to say that as governor of Vermont, I signed legislation to grant homosexual couples the right to enter into civil unions. This law, the first of its kind in the United States, guarantees lesbian and gay couples the same basic legal rights that married couples enjoy . . . . I can’t wait to ask the President of the United States why he doesn’t support equal rights. I can’t wait to ask him to repudiate the GOP-authored Defense of Marriage Act, an unconstitutional, mean-spirited law that stoked fears of homosexuality and pitted ongroup of Americans against another.”