Candidate Dean

A True Regressive

by Josh Frank

Dissident Voice

August 4, 2003


Media pundits have been rattling their cages over Howard Dean’s so-called progressive agenda, but how wrong they’ve been.  Dean’s back seat criticism of the Bush Administration’s case for war should enlighten us to the fact that this ex-Vermont Governor’s leadership skills are lacking.  Prior to the dubious war on Iraq, Dean exclaimed he supported a multi-lateral invasion, but hardly questioned the disinformation spewed from the White House about Iraq’s threat to our national security.  And to top it off, Dean may well be a Zionist.  His unwavering support for the Sharon regime in Israel calls into question his motives for the Arab world.  Dean’s alignment with the pro-Sharon lobbying firm, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is a stark indicator that this Presidential hopeful’s view of “peace” is glaringly similar to that of King Bush.


Some Democrats have even been comparing Dean to George McGovern -- who back in 1972 lost the Presidential race by a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon.  McGovern was a true liberal Democrat, and many claim that his progressive policies cost him the election.


But what progressive policies could cost Dean the 2004 election? Could it be his support for the racist death penalty?  Maybe it will be his praise of the outlandish Welfare Reform program Clinton and Gore mustered through Congress.  Or perhaps it’ll have to do with his idea that Iraq simply needs more troops for the ongoing occupation to succeed. He sounds a lot like some prominent Republican apologists on that one.  Somebody should ask Howard if he remembers a little country called Vietnam.


How in the heck did he get labeled a progressive anyway?  What radical changes is he even proposing?  His rhetoric is simplistic, and his populist mantra is reminiscent of Gore in 2000 ­ passionate, but toothless.  For example, he’ll say he’s for “grassroots democracy,” but won’t support campaign finance reform. He will also beat his chest over “universal healthcare,” but he won’t back any “sweeping reforms.”  How can we have universal healthcare without drastically changing our for-profit medical industry? Who is he kidding?


As for his Israel position, his own website exclaims that the United States should “maintain its historic special relationship with the state of Israel, providing a guarantee of its long-term defense and security.”  Not only has this centrist politician forgotten the Vietnam monstrosity, he blatantly ignores the thousands of Palestinians that have perished at the hands of the brutal Israeli military machine.


Dean is also a proclaimed neoliberal.  He states that he knows “what it takes to generate economic growth,” and that he “will work tirelessly to put the American economy back on the road to prosperity.”  What Dean really means is that he is willing to disregard environmental safeguards and worker’s rights, as long as the wheels of economic capital churn faster.


No wonder then that Dean supports the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO).  But you won’t find information about this in any of his campaign propaganda.  He wants the progressive vote, so his conformist stances are blatantly covered up in hopes his supporters follow him blindly. And they are - despite his slip-up in the Washington Post in which he exclaimed that he thinks it's pathetic he's considered a progressive.  "It shows just how far to the right this country has lurched," he proclaimed.


But in the first unofficial Democratic Primary, Dean won, garnering 44% of the total vote count - this coming from the liberal online activist organization MoveOn.  Seems that Howard Dean fooled these lefties into believing he’s one of them.


So as he leads the pack of Democratic contenders, keep in mind that Dean is far from progressive.  He just wants your vote.  And like most politicians he’ll say what he needs in order to get what he wants -- whether it's what patrons of the Washington Post want to read, or what listeners of National Public Radio want to hear. Supporting Civil Unions back in Vermont is one of his only accomplishments worth noting, but a token victory shouldn't entitle him to your vote.  Don’t let Howard Dean fool you into thinking he’s anything more than regressive.  Because he's not.


Josh Frank is a journalist living in New York City. His work appears frequently in Impact Press and online at Counterpunch. He can be reached at frank_joshua@hotmail.com


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