Howard University Lyndon Johnson established a muscular,
rationale for vigorous affirmative action as national public
policy. Johnson then announced “a White House conference of
scholars, and experts, and outstanding Negro leaders – men
[sic] of both races – and officials of Government at every
level. This White House
conference's theme and title will be ‘To
Fulfill These Rights.’”
spent the better part of the next three and a half years
through Congress to “fulfill” those rights, as broadly demanded
by the Civil Rights Movement.
Clinton – the
ridiculously dubbed “Black” President – began his 1992 campaign
by staging an ambush of Sister
Souljah to impress white males, dedicated his second term
to elimination of “welfare as we know it,” and ended his tenure
with a purposeless national “conversation
on race” that went nowhere by design.
Dean has taken history in his hands by hitching his ascendant
a straightforward, anti-corporate message that does not pander
to white racism. He presents whites in the South and elsewhere
with the only principled choice they should be offered: to
vote their interests, or vote for their bosses’ interests (if
they are lucky enough to have a job). Although corporate media
called Dean’s statement his “southern strategy,” it is in fact
the only position that holds out any hope for a national Democratic
victory in 2004 – whether enough southern whites emerge from
their racist “false consciousness” or not.
The December 7 speech
is a clear and definitive break from the lethal grip of the Democratic
Leadership Council, the southern-born, corporate-mouthpiece
faction of the party. The DLC’s favored presidential candidate
is Senator Joe Lieberman, its most illustrious personality
is Bill Clinton, and its most prestigious founding
member is none other than – Al Gore.
of Dean should be viewed as head-swiveling proof of the bankruptcy
of the DLC’s white “swing voter” strategy. The DLC-Emeritus
has effectively jumped ship.
Stay the course
does this leave Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich? Exactly
as they are, preaching
the same social democratic, anti-racist, pro-peace message
as before, for as long as their energies can sustain them. Dean’s
political leap would not have been possible in the absence
of Sharpton’s energetic Black candidacy and Kucinich’s principled,
progressive white voice from the Left. At this historic juncture
they dare not go anywhere. Dean has picked up the torch
that Sharpton and Kucinich have been carrying and they must
stay in the race to make sure he doesn’t set it down. By persevering
in pressing the Left edges of the Democratic envelope, the “Two
Civilized Men” created the political space for Dean to
make his historic break. Although we cannot expect either
candidate to rejoice in the frontrunner’s actions, Dean’s leftward
march is also their victory over the DLC, and they must
defend it – against Dean himself and his newfound allies, if
the anti-war front, Dean continues to waffle on the nature
and length of the Iraq
occupation, which makes him an apologist for American Manifest
Destiny. Kucinich and Sharpton are the only candidates who
call for unequivocal withdrawal. Their job is by no means over.
mission remains the same as when he first declared for the
presidency: to present himself as the Black candidate. African
Americans are sophisticated, and understand the value of a
demonstration; many will vote for Sharpton as a way to make
the weight of their electoral presence unmistakably felt. A
substantial proportion of Black primary voters will choose
Sharpton over any white man, including one with a progressive
racial platform – a good result under present circumstances,
and one we expect in South Carolina, February 3. (South Carolina
Black Rep. James Clyburn has endorsed his
congressional colleague, Dick Gephardt.)
two people can shut the window that Howard Dean threw open
for the national
Democratic Party, last Sunday: Dean and Al Sharpton. Dean’s
Black advisors, especially Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.,
must caution the former Vermont Governor that their presence
in his camp does not convey Blackness to the candidate. He
must respect and acclimate himself to Sharpton’s mission.
must remember that he is not running for King of the Blacks,
but is essentially
acting as the lead Black organizer in the progressive wing
of the Democratic Party. Dean’s December 7 statement would
certainly not have been written without Sharpton in the race. That is
a great victory of the Sharpton campaign, one that may shape
the future of the nation.
Sharpton could have vetted Dean’s speech, which reads very
much like the distilled product of A
More Perfect Union, the book written by Rep. Jackson
and Frank Watkins, Sharpton’s former campaign manager. The
same river runs through it, the historical currents that also
informed Rev. Jesse Jackson’s speech to South Carolina State
University at Orangeburg, last week.
big fight in this state should be trade policy and the
Wal-Martization of our economy," said Jackson, the
and Democrat reported. "The challenge is to get
South Carolina to vote its economic hopes and not its racial
fears." Most low-income Americans are white and "they
work every day. They work at Wal-Mart without insurance.
They work at fast-food places. They work at hospitals where
no job is beneath them, where they don't have insurance,
so they can't afford to lay in the beds they make…
challenge for South Carolina is to move from racial battleground
to economic common ground to moral high ground."
sentiments spring from the Black Political Consensus. Howard
Dean is attempting to get the Democratic Party – and himself – in
step. That’s how history is made.
absolute certainty that the corporate media have thoroughly
misreported, mangled and incompetently framed Howard Dean’s
December 7 speech, we have republished it in full, below.
From the Official
Howard Dean Weblog, December 7, 2003
Restoring the American
following remarks as prepared were delivered this afternoon
by Governor Howard Dean in Columbia, South Carolina:
1968, Richard Nixon won the White House. He did it in a shameful
way – by dividing
Americans against one another, stirring up racial prejudices
and bringing out the worst in people.
called it the "Southern
Strategy," and the Republicans have been using it ever
since. Nixon pioneered it, and Ronald Reagan perfected it,
using phrases like "racial quotas" and "welfare
queens" to convince white Americans that minorities were
to blame for all of America's problems.
The Republican Party
would never win elections if they came out and said their core
agenda was about selling America piece by piece to their campaign
contributors and making sure that wealth and power is concentrated
in the hands of a few.
To distract people
from their real agenda, they run elections based on race, dividing
us, instead of uniting us.
these politics do worse than that – they fracture the very
soul of who we are as a country.
was a different Republican president, who 150 years ago warned, "A house
divided cannot stand," and it is now a different Republican
party that has won elections for the past 30 years by turning
us into a divided nation.
In America, there
is nothing black or white about having to live from one paycheck
to the next.
Hunger does not care
what color we are.
In America, a conversation
between parents about taking on more debt might be in English
or it might be in Spanish, worrying about making ends meet
knows no racial identity.
Black children and
white children all get the flu and need the doctor. In both
the inner city and in small rural towns, our schools need good
I was in medical school in the Bronx, one of my first ER
was a 13-year-old African American girl who had an unwanted
pregnancy. When I moved to Vermont to practice medicine, one
of my first ER patients was a 13-year-old
white girl who had an unwanted pregnancy.
They were bound by
their common human experience.
There are no black
concerns or white concerns or Hispanic concerns in America.
There are only human concerns.
time a politician uses the word "quota," it's because
he'd rather not talk about the real reasons that we've lost
almost 3 million
time a politician complains about affirmative action in our
because he'd rather not talk about the real problems with education
in America – like the fact that here in South Carolina, only
15% of African Americans have a post-high school degree.
When education is
suffering in lower-income areas, it means that we will all
pay for more prisons and face more crime in the future.
When families lack
health insurance and are forced to go to the emergency room
when they need a doctor, medical care becomes more expensive
for each of us.
When wealth is concentrated
at the very top, when the middle class is shrinking and the
gap between rich and poor grows as wide as it has been since
the Gilded Age of the 19th Century, our economy cannot sustain
When wages become
stagnant for the majority of Americans, as they have been for
the past two decades, we will never feel as though we are getting
When we have the highest
level of personal debt in American history, we are selling
off our future, in order to barely keep our heads above water
Today, Americans are
working harder, for less money, with more debt, and less time
to spend with our families and communities.
In the year 2003,
in the United States, over 12 million children live in poverty.
Nearly 8 million of them are white. And no matter what race
they are, too many of them will live in poverty all their lives.
And yesterday, there
were 3,000 more children without health care - children of
all races. By the end of today, there will 3,000 more. And
by the end of tomorrow, there will be 3,000 more on top of
America can do better
time we had a new politics in America – a politics that refuses
to pander to our lowest prejudices.
when white people and black people and brown people vote
together, that's when we make true progress in this country.
Jobs, health care,
education, democracy, and opportunity. These are the issues
that can unite America.
The politics of the
21st century is going to begin with our common interests.
If the President tries
to divide us by race, we're going to talk about health care
for every American.
If Karl Rove tries
to divide us by gender, we're going to talk about better schools
for all of our children.
If large corporate
interests try to divide us by income, we're going to talk about
better jobs and higher wages for every American.
If any politician
tries to win an election by turning America into a battle of
us versus them, we're going to respond with a politics that
says that we're all in this together - that we want to raise
our children in a world in which they are not taught to hate
one another, because our children are not born to hate one
going to talk about justice again in this country, and what
an America based
on justice should look like – an America with justice in our
tax code, justice in our health care system, and justice in
our hearts as well as our laws.
We're going to talk
about making higher education available to every young person
in every neighborhood and community in America, because over
95% of people with a 4-year degree in this country escape poverty.
We're going to talk
about rebuilding rural communities and making sure that rural
America can share in the promise and prosperity of the rest
going to talk about investing in more small businesses instead
huge corporations, because small businesses create 7 out of
every 10 jobs in this country and they don't move their jobs
overseas – and they can help revitalize troubled communities.
We're going to make it easier for everyone to get a small business
loan wherever they live and whatever the color of their skin.
We're going to talk
about rebuilding our schools and our roads and our public spaces,
empowering people to take pride in their neighborhood and their
We're going to talk
about building prosperity that's based on more than spending
beyond our means, a prosperity that doesn't force us to choose
between working long hours and raising our children, a prosperity
that doesn't require a mountain of debt to sustain it, a prosperity
that lifts up every one of us and not just those at the very
politics of race and the politics of fear will be answered
with the promise of community and a message of hope.
And that's how we're
going to win in 2004.
the Democratic National Convention in 1976, Congresswoman
Barbara Jordan asked, "Are
we to be one people bound together by common spirit sharing
in a common endeavor or will we become a divided nation?"
are determined to find a way to reach out to Americans of
every race, every gender and sexual orientation, and bring
them – as Dr. King said – to the same table of brotherhood.
We have great work
to do in America. It will take years. But it will last for
generations. And it begins today, with every one of us here.
Abraham Lincoln said
that government of the people, by the people and for the people
shall not perish from this earth. But this President has forgotten
That is why it is
time for us to join together. Because it is only a movement
of citizens of every color, every income level, and every background
that can change this country and once again make it live up
to the promise of America.
So, today I ask you
to not just join this campaign but make it your own. This new
era of the United States begins not with me but with you. United
together, you can take back your country.