In order for the Democratic Party to win the Presidency it needs Black America to show up at the polls and vote. There are many African Americans who are still angry over Election 2000 where some African Americans were denied the right to vote. Especially in Florida where African American voters were unjustly purged from voter polls, experienced police intimidation, and having votes in black precincts simply not counted. Although these criminal acts and there perpetrators have never come to justice, in November 2004 Black America will be a major player in determining the fate of George W. Bush.
Enter Howard Dean former Governor of Vermont and early Democratic frontrunner. He needs African Americans in order to win the Democratic nomination especially in the primary states of South Carolina and Michigan, and to defeat George W. Bush in the general election if nominated. In order to do this he needs to connect with the needs of the African American community and address concerning issues such as the need for equal access to quality health care, accountability and legislation to deal with police brutality, equal educational funding and reinvestment in public schools.
Some depict Dean as liberal others as too conservative and others more like a libertarian. The best comparison may be Sen. John McCain the straight shooting Republican Senator of Arizona. McCain won the 2000 primary in New Hampshire but had his nomination railroaded by the likes of Bush’s Karl Rowe who used racist tactics to defeat John McCain in the South Carolina primary. But I digress.
Some of Dean’s remarks have been controversial such as the need for Democratic Party to connect with those in pick-ups and confederate flags. A synonym for poor white Americans, who like African American and Latino Americans go to die in America’s wars but cannot get a job when they get out of the military because the factory they planned to work is now in Indonesia or Mexico or some other nation that is willing to let its people get along with 10 cents an hour.
Dean is the best bet thus far because he has galvanized the young Internet savvy Democratic base and he must now galvanize the crucial black vote. As a Vermonter, he has no experience in dealing with the concerns of Black America. But as he mentioned in one of the touring debates if governing a large number of minorities was a determination of policy Trent Lott would be a saint in the black community (Sen. of Mississippi which is nearly 40% black who stated that this would be a better country today had then segregationist Strom Thurmond became president).
A good step in getting African American support is Dean’s plan to revitalize America’s cities. The plan calls for investing $100 Billion in America’s cities. He claims his plan would create 1 million jobs within its first two years. Its great idea with vision of how things could be different and politically its sound because how can republicans criticize a plan to invest $100 billion dollars in America when American taxpayers agreed to give the President $80 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq.
The endorsement of Carol Moseley Braun, Al Gore and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. doesn’t hurt his standing in the black community. His win in the nonbinding DC primary doesn’t hurt either. DC is a predominantly African American populated city and Dean won the primary with 43% of the vote followed by Sharpton with 18%. African American supporters of Dean have created a website AfricanAmericansforDean.com where one can read Dean’s stance on issues such as racial profiling and affirmative action and donate to his campaign.
Dean has vision and has the courage to as he says lead the democratic wing of the Democratic Party. African Americans have been loyal to this party and that wing. Dean Kerry, Edwards, Clark, and the other democratic challengers must too show their loyalty.