Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Address to California State Democratic Convention
Sacramento, California
March 15, 2003


Thank you!

What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?  [cheers].

What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?  [cheers].

What I want to know, is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient's Bill of Rights?  If the Patient's Bill of Rights passes, is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it's not five cents cheaper.

What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren't standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America?  [cheers, chants "Dean"].

What I want to know, what I want to know, is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President's education bill -- "The No School Board Left Standing Bill" -- the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system?  [cheers].

As Paul Wellstone said -- and as Sheila Kuehl said when she endorsed me -- I'm Howard Dean, and I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.  [cheers].

I want a Democratic Party, I want a Democratic Party that'll balance the budget.  Bill Clinton balanced the budget, starting in 1993 with not a single Republican vote, kicking off the greatest ten years of prosperity in this country's history.  No, no Republican president has balanced the budget in this country in 34 years.  If you want to trust somebody with your taxpayer's dollars, you better elect a Democrat because the Republicans can't manage money.  [cheers].

I want an economy in this country where we create jobs that don't move offshore.  [cheers].  I want an America that has health insurance for everybody.  [cheers].  I want, I want a government that stops passing unfunded mandates and starts funding the ones we've got, like special education.  [cheers].  And I want a government which will give us a foreign policy so when we walk down the streets of the capitals of our friends we don't have to worry about watching our back wherever we go as Americans.  [cheers, chants "We want Dean"].  Thank you.

We've had two fine people, United States Senators -- Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards -- who've done a lot for our country, and they've served us honorably.  And if they win the nomination, either one of them, I'm going to support them and do everything I can to help them win the White House.  [cheers].

But I don't think we can win the White House if we vote for the President's unilateral attack on Iraq in Washington [cheers] and then, and then come to California and say we're against the war.  And I don't think we can win the White House if we support the President's "No School Board Left Standing Bill" and then come to California and tell everybody that we're going to do all kinds of things for education.  And I don't think we can win the White House if we skip the most important abortion vote in the last year and then come to California and talk about pro-choice.  [cheers].

I'm not surprised that only 15 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 vote because we haven't given them a reason to vote, and we're going to give them a reason to vote now.  [cheers].

I was governor for so long that I got to serve through not one but two Bush recessions.  And in Vermont, I was very proud to balance the budget.  We balanced the budget.  We set money aside in a rainy day fund; we paid down almost a quarter of our debt.  The reason that is important is because it is hard to fund social justice without a balanced budget, which is why this President doesn't have one.

In our state, our budget is still balanced and we're not cutting higher education, we're not cutting K through 12, and we're not cutting health care for kids.  That's what we need in this country.  I am a governor, and I've done it.  [cheers, chants "We want Dean."].

In our state, everybody under the age of 18 has health insurance.  [cheers].  We made Medicaid into a middle-class entitlement.  If you make $52,000 a year or less in Vermont, everybody under 18 in your family is entitled to Medicaid.  We charge, we charge if you're at the upper end of that,  we charge $50 a month; that insures everybody in your family under the age of 18.  Now, if we, if we can do that in a small rural state which is 26th in income in the entire country, surely the most wealthy and powerful society on the face of the earth can grant all its citizens health care.  I am a governor, and I am a doctor, and I've done it.  [cheers, chants "Dean"].

In Vermont, we've conserved hundreds of thousands of acres that'll never be developed.  And I might add, Mr. President, they're never going to be drilled on either.  [cheers].  And if I get to be president, I'll protect California as well as Florida.  [cheers].

Let me tell you something else.  One of Bill Clinton's greatest legacies to this country was the promise he kept to make his cabinet look like America.  I thought, I thought one of the lowest moments of this President's presidency was about five weeks ago when he used the word "quota" five times on national television on the evening news.  [boos].  The University of Michigan does not now and never has had a quota system and the President knows it.  [cheers].  And we need affirmative action in this country, and we ought to stand up and say so and be proud of it as a party.  [cheers, chants "Dean"].

California, California is a precursor to the rest of this country; you have five big minorities and lots of small minorities.  In alphabetical order: African Americans, Anglos, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans.  Soon all of America is going to look like California.  [cheers].  And when it does, I want to make sure that every American is included in the very best institutions that we have in this country, because as a nation we either admit that we are all together or we will be divided as the Republicans have divided us since 1968 under the Richard Nixon Southern strategy.

I don't want to be divided anymore by race; I don't want to be divided anymore by gender; I don't want to be divided anymore by sexual orientation.  [cheers, chants "Dean"].

Senator Kerry was reported to have said that he could win without the South.  I don't want to win without the South.  I'm going to go to the South, and I'm going to say to white guys who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back of their car, "We want your vote too, 'cause your kids don't have health insurance either."  [cheers].

I want to end on a personal note.  Three years ago next month I signed a bill into law called the civil unions bill [cheers], which gives gay and lesbian Vermonters the same rights I have: visitations of your significant other in the hospital, inheritance rights, insurance rights.  Vermont truly is a place where every American is equal in the eyes of the law.  [cheers].

I want the President of the United States to explain to all Americans why he doesn't believe all Americans should be equal under the law.  [cheers].  I signed, I signed that bill six months before an election when it was at 35 percent in the polls.  I never had a conversation with myself about whether I ought to sign the bill or not because I knew that if I was willing to sell out the hopes and dreams of a significant portion of our people, that I had wasted my life in public service, because-- [cheers].

I've never lost an election, but my career has never been about winning elections.  My career -- and this campaign -- is about changing the Democratic Party; it's about changing America.  [cheers].  And this campaign is about taking back the White House so we can have health insurance, so we can have a balanced budget, and so we can have an inclusive society where everybody believes in each other and believes in America.

I want the opportunity to work with extraordinary people in California.  I'll work with California instead of against you.  I'll work with Nancy Pelosi.  I'll work with Diane Feinstein.  I'll work with Gray Davis.  I'll work [Speaker of the Assembly] Herb Wesson.  I'll work with [President Pro Tem of the Senate] John Burton.  And I'll sure work with another Democratic from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, Barbara Boxer.  [chants "We want Dean"].

The only way--  We are not going to beat George Bush by voting with the President 85 percent of the time.  [cheers].  The only way that we're going to beat George Bush is to say what we mean, to stand up for who we are, to lift up a Democratic agenda against the Republican agenda because if you do that, the Democratic agenda wins every time.  [cheers].

I want my country back!  [cheers].  We want our country back!  [cheers].  I'm tired of being divided!  [cheers].  I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore.  [cheers].  I want America to look like America, where we are all included, hand in hand, walking down. We have dream.  We can only reach the dream if we are all together -- black and white, gay and straight, man and woman.  America!  The Democratic Party!  We are going to win in 2004!

Thank you very, very much.  Thank you very, very much.  Stand up for America!  Stand up for America!  Stand up for America!