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Why I Choose Dean
May 9, 2003
By Michael Giardina

Editor's Note: Democratic Underground welcomes articles promoting individual Democratic candidates for political office. Publication of these articles does not imply endorsement of any candidate by the editors of Democratic Underground.

On May 7, 2003, I made my first-ever monetary financial contribution to a candidate running for the office of President of the United States. To me, this a big deal. But first, some background.

I'm a 26-year-old, white, upper-middle class male currently working on a Ph.D. in Communications and Cultural Studies at a school in the Big 10. I was raised among the ardent cultural conservatism of Orange County, CA, did my undergraduate work in a fairly-liberal region of New York, and am now in the Midwest.

I supported Clinton for President, and voted for him in 1996. Like many, I found him to be the consummate politician, a brilliant and engaging speaker, and undoubtedly the best president I've seen in my lifetime. As much as I respected him, though, he didn't inspire me, not in a "walk through a wall for him" kind of way.

In 2000, though a strident Democrat and disagreeing on about half the issues with John McCain, I was enthused with McCain's candidacy (or, maybe, just the candidate himself); I was similarly disgusted that the Bush machine essentially whacked him South Carolina, too. McCain got me excited about politics. Me. A graduate student who has published numerous articles in academic journals about the social, cultural, and political context of 1990s America vis-a-vis popular culture, but who had never volunteered to work for a campaign, given money, or attended a rally in favor or against anything at the grassroots level.

Of course, the Bush residency is the worst two-plus years I've experienced - politically - as an adult, and I like many have been personally offended by the supposed leader of the now-divided-sure-as-hell-not-united America and the political climate he has fostered. A few weeks ago, however, that all changed.

I had been following the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination around on the Internet (individual webpages, blogs, newspapers, etc.) since the middle of last year (through all the speculation as to who it would be, etc.). I wasn't all that thrilled with Kerry, though I respected him for his Senatorial contributions, was dead-set against even the mere thought of Lieberman being anywhere near the ballot, and would have been "okay " with John Edwards as the nominee, because I think he has loads of potential that has yet to be harnessed.

But then I started hearing the whispers - idle chatter, really - around the water-cooler, so to speak, about another candidate whom I had never heard of - ever. A friend gave me a link to a speech this unknown-to-me candidate had given, and that ... was ... it.

He hit every note, every issue, had me jumping out of my desk chair, had me ready to walk through a wall in order to get him elected. After that, I went to his website, found out where he stood on the issues, and surfed around the Internet to see what other people were saying about him. I liked what a I saw.

Today I donated to Howard Dean and the Dean for America campaign. I've gone to a MeetUp for Dean meeting in my town. And I'm writing this note to Democratic Underground because there is a groundswell of support out there for Governor Dr. Dean.

The people at the MeetUp were just like me - and not; there were veteran Democratic activists; young minorities who were pumped up about Dean's position on "talking about race" in the election; and other non-politically active types. It was, in a word, awe-inspiring.

Watch out for Dean and his supporters: there is a buzz on the street about him, people who are not political junkies are excited about politics because of him, and people like me who wouldn't have given Al Gore's campaign five cents just contributed to Howard Dean (and didn't feel for one second that I was "throwing away" my money by contributing to his campaign).

And I plan on doing it again, because while Bill Clinton may have been "The Natural," Howard Dean is "The Fighter." And right now, we need a fighter, because Election 2004 is going to be a 15-round heavyweight fight. And we can't afford to lose this one.

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