By Howard Dean
December 14, 2004
Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and most importantly, to win.
The pundits have said that this election was decided on the issue of moral values. I don't believe that. It is a moral value to provide health care. It is a moral value to educate our young people. The sense of community that comes from full participation in our democracy is a moral value. It is a moral value to make sure that we do not leave our own debts to be paid by the next generation. Honesty is a moral value.
If this election had been decided on moral values, Democrats would have won.
It is time for the Democratic Party to start framing the debate about values.
We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes.
We have to set the agenda.
We should not hesitate to call for reform -- reform in elections, reform in health care and education, reforms that promote ethical business practices. And, yes, we need to talk about some internal reform in the Democratic Party as well.
Reform is the hallmark of a strong Democratic Party.
Those who stand in the way of reform cannot be the focus of our attention for only four months out of every four years.
Reform is a daily battle.
And we must pursue those reforms with conviction -- every day, at all levels, in 50 states.
A little while back, at a fundraiser, a woman came up to me. She identified herself as an evangelical Christian from Texas. I asked her what you are all wondering -- why was she supporting me. She said there were two reasons. The first was that she had a child who had poly-cystic kidney disease, and that the illness made it impossible for their family to get health care.
The second thing she said was, "The other reason we're with you is because evangelical Christians are people of deep conviction, and you're a person of deep conviction. I may not agree with you on everything, but what we want more than anything else from our government is that when something happens to our family or something happens to our country -- it's that the people in our government act out of deep conviction."
We are what we believe. And the American people know it.
And I believe that over the next two... four... ten years...
Election by election...State by state...Precinct by precinct...Door by door...Vote by vote. . .we're going to take this country back for the people who built it.
Howard Dean, M.D. and former governor of Vermont, is the founder of Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates.
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