Our greatest presidents shared a special quality. They understood the needs of common people, developed programs to meet them, and honestly articulated the resulting dream for the nation. They had "it," a mixture of honesty, intelligence, ability, leadership and charisma.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had it. Abraham Lincoln had it. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman had it. John F. Kennedy had it.
Howard Dean has it.
That's why we need him as our next President and why the Oologah Lake Leader is pleased to endorse him today for the Democratic nomination and the Presidency itself.
We first saw Howard Dean in Washington in March, on the day the American bombing of Iraq began. The room was filled with community newspaper publishers, mostly Republicans licking their chops about the chance to flay another Democratic wimp. Most had heard little or nothing about Howard Dean, but he was a Democrat, right?
Dean changed the mood within seconds. When he began speaking, the publishers quickly began listening, first with interest, then with respect.
Dean clearly outlined his opposition to the Bush foreign policy fiasco in Iraq while articulating his strong support for the troops ordered to do the fighting. His grasp of foreign policy and how to repair the damage done by George Bush was exciting.
Then he demonstrated how the Vermont health care model could work at the national level. He explained how fixing the nation's health care nightmare need not be a war between government, business and workers. Instead, he showed how his plan could actually strengthen small business.
Publishers are small businessmen. Healthcare for their employees is a huge and growing problem. He offered a real alternative, something that would make the future better. A politician offering useful, practical ideas? That was novel, the group thought.
As he outlined his programs, there were grudging nods and some muttering. Hey, this guy makes sense. Hey, he doesn't fit the usual labels of "liberal" or "conservative." Hey, we need to watch this guy.
It was that special quality at work. Dean had it.
Citizens--including many unhappy Republicans--are streaming to the Dean campaign because they are tired of platitudes. They are tired of oversized egos. They are tired of politicians who say they alone can save the nation from the menace-of-the-day. They are tired of being pandered to.
Listen to Howard Dean discussing the qualifications for a vice president during a recent appearance on Larry King Live:
"I'm going to look for somebody with a Washington background, because the biggest mistake governors make when they go to Washington (is that) they don't know how to deal with the system. It is a different world inside Washington than it is everywhere else in the country, which helps me as a candidate because I know that world. But to govern, you have got to get something done."
The popular thing to say would have been, "I'm not going to let any of those Washington bozos near MY White House." Instead, Dean acknowledged the importance of both winning and governing. Thoughtful voters understand that. There's no point in winning in November if the new policies flounder during the first 100 days of the new administration.
Howard Dean has already won this Presidential election. He has brought tens of thousands of Americans back into the political process. He is using modern tools such as the Internet to reach out to those who are too young to remember John F. Kennedy's simple statement that we WOULD land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
At that time, our nation needed the reassurance of a visible and seemingly unattainable goal.
Howard Dean has set a national goal of restoring this nation to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. He is preparing the nation to look to the future and embrace its challenges. Our nation needs the reassurance of reaching this visible and seemingly unattainable goal.
Dean also is empowering people. Real people gather every month to work for Howard Dean in cities and towns across America. Communications go both ways. Some of the pundits have not yet realized that Dean speaks effectively TO the American people because he first lets the American people speak effectively TO him. He understands their needs, because he has come up with a way for a national political leader to stay connected to the needs of everyday Americans.
We're old fashioned in one crucial area, and so is Howard Dean. He still
believes that a promise and a handshake are binding.
The greatest compliment we can pay another human being is, "He speaks truth."
Howard Dean speaks truth.
The greatest compliment we can pay a President, current or future, is, "He has it."
Howard Dean has it.
Oologah Lake Leader ©2003
Reprinted by permission.