A Chat With Howard Dean

Howard Dean recently spoke with Democratic Perspective on a wide range of topics ranging from SB1070 to the 2012 elections.

The former six-time governor of Vermont, former presidential candidate, and past Chair of the Democratic National Committee began by paying tribute to former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, calling her Department of Homeland Security “perhaps the best run of all US government agencies.”

On immigration and the Arizona legislature, he said that Republicans appear close to the John Birch Society. “I understand the problems of immigration,” Dean continued, “And the Federal government ought to give border states special assistance to help. But we’re a country of immigrants.” He went on to say that the AZ business community begged Governor Brewer not to sign SB1070. “These kinds of bills are usually whipped up by politicians who can’t get themselves elected any other way,” he stated.

With regard to the Ryan budget proposal recently passed by the US House of Representatives, Dean says that “Ryan gutted Medicare and transferred the risk of medical inflation to seniors. The real problem with Medicare is the rising cost of health care,” he continued. “It’s an example of how Republicans are always sticking it to the regular population to benefit corporations and the wealthy.”

In looking ahead to the 2012 elections, Gov. Dean said that President Obama is likely to be re-elected. “It all depends on the economy,” he said. “Democrats can retake the house because Republicans have over-reached as they did in 1994. But the Democratic majority in the Senate will be tough to defend since there will be 23 seats up for election.”

In talking about the growing block of independent voters, he said that he considers them more conservative than Democrats. They want good financial management. They are concerned by taxes and spending. But they’re also very concerned by crackpots. “Democrats can be elected in Arizona, but they must be willing to stand up to their own party and do what’s best for their constituents,” he said. His advice to candidates is to “say what you believe. Don’t react to polls or blindly follow the party.”

Finally, Gov. Dean addressed the war in Afghanistan following the killing of Osama bin Laden. “I’ve always supported the effort,” he said. “After all, that’s where the 9/11 attacks originated. But I now believe that their government is so corrupt, we should leave. We can’t continue to fight for people who won’t fight for themselves.”

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