In Multipolarity

Democratic National Committee chair hopeful Howard Dean on winning back the working class

Interview with Howard Dean, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s weekday evening interview program ‘As It Happens‘, Nov 17, 2016

Introduction by New Cold
The mainstream of the Democratic Party is positioning itself to conciliate with the extreme-right presidency of Donald Trump. Along these lines, the conservative Howard Dean is a leading candidate in a contest to head the Democratic National Committee. He is interviewed on November 17 by CBC Radio. Partial text is below, the weblink to the audio broadcast is above.

The left wing of the party, to use a phrase, is pushing within party confines for a radical, social justice program. Here is a report on a speech by Bernie Sanders to supporters rallying in Washington DC on November 17. Here is a commentary by Canadian author and environmentalist Naomi Klein published in The Guardian on November 9.

Introduction by CBC:
The 2016 election was catastrophic for the Democratic Party. They lost the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The future head of the Democratic National Committee will be tasked with rebuilding the party.

Howard Dean in 2014 (Phil McCarten, Reuters)

Howard Dean in 2014 (Phil McCarten, Reuters)

Howard Dean is the former Governor of Vermont and a former Democratic Party presidential candidate. From 2005 until 2009, he was the chair of the DNC and after his party’s loss last week, he wants his old job back. He spoke to As It Happens guest host Helen Mann about what’s next for the Democratic Party.

Helen Mann: You have been quoted as saying there may be some Trump campaign pledges which your party could support and see become legislation. Which parts might be useful for the country, and for your party, to back him on?

Howard Dean: Well, if I was quoted as literally as saying that, that’s not so. What I said was, there are some things … we don’t know what his campaign promises are because he said three different things, sometimes on the same day. But there have been two things that I think we could work with Trump on, and we should, if we can.

One is the reduction of the corporate tax to 18-20 per cent, as long as it is paid for by removing corporate loopholes such as the oil depletion allowance. If he’s willing to do that kind of tax reform, I think it’s worth doing. The second is, and this is more important, is a public-private-partnership bill to do infrastructure. That’s a proposal of one of his advisors. I have no idea if he’s going to do it or not, but if he does, I think we should support him.

‘People really wanted a change and she was not a change candidate.’ – Howard Dean on Hillary Clinton 

We should support Trump’s stuff when we need to. He may have been an obnoxious candidate, but he is the President of the United States, or he will be shortly. I do not want to do what the Republicans did, which is oppose everything whether it was good or bad. I think our party is more interested in the country than our party, and that’s the way it should be.

HM: We haven’t seen a lot of cooperation in recent years between the parties. I’m wondering too if this is a strategic decision, to perhaps appeal to some of those Democrats in traditionally blue states who turned away from your party this time?

HD: This is not a strategic decision at all. I think we ought to do what’s right for this country. I was fairly appalled by the Republican leadership whose main objective was to get Obama out of office. I think any party that does that is not serving their constituencies well.

HM: Why do you think so many people in those traditional blue states turned away from the Democrats this time?

HD: They turned around from Democrats and Republicans. Let me remind you they knocked out 16 classical Republican candidates on the way to Donald Trump. The problem is these are people who have been left behind by globalization, they’re very resentful of it, and I can’t say I blame them. I think capitalism has failed those people and we have to find a way to make capitalism work for them.

HM: You’re a strong backer of NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement.] That was one of the major complaints we heard from some of those in rust belt states who voted for Mr. Trump. It affects this country as well. Do you think there’s any room for renegotiating that?

HD: Yeah, I think there’s room. Justin Trudeau himself has said there’s room for renegotiating. The much tougher part will be renegotiating with Mexico. I personally believe free trade has created jobs, not destroyed them. But unfortunately, both parties have embraced the idea that global trade is bad. Global trade has lifted over a billion people out of poverty in the last 15-20 years, it has cost Americans jobs in some places, there’s no question. But the net gain of American jobs is enormous. The real culprit in the loss of manufacturing jobs is robotization and automation. Also, the Internet economy, which is tough to get into if you’re 55 and you’ve lost your job.

‘These are people who have been left behind by globalization, and they’re very resentful of it.’  – Howard Dean 

HM: Why do you think Hillary Clinton failed to appeal to those traditional voters?

HD: People really wanted a change and she’s not a change candidate. I was a huge supporter of Hillary Clinton, I think she would have made a fantastic president, but this was not the year for an establishment candidate. This is a woman who spent 30 years in public service, who was incredibly good at it. But people voted for change. I don’t think the majority of Trump voters were misogynists and racists. I think a lot of them knew exactly what they were doing, they were taking a big risk on Donald Trump, and they figured the risk was worse if they voted to stay the same, so they voted for Trump anyway.

HM: I’d like to know, what do you think about the hacking of the DNC and the revelations about the party apparatus colluding with the Clinton campaign against her challengers during the primaries. Do you think that was a damaging thing?

HD: I think it was a bad thing to do. When I was running the DNC that never would have been allowed… I think that was a major failure of the DNC, I don’t think it had much of an affect on the race, but i do think it was a problem.

HM: You want to lead the DNC again, you’ve been there before, why do you want the job, why do you think maybe it’s not time for fresh blood?

HD: It is time for fresh blood, but the problem is, the only fresh blood out there is somebody who wants to serve in Congress at the same time, and that’s not doable [Keith Ellison.] I want to make sure we have a competent strong DNC chair… Our record was very good when I was there. We came in with no tech platform, no House, no Senate, no President. We left with the strongest tech platform in the country and we owned the House, the Senate and the Presidency. I know how to do this. I would love to have somebody 25-30 years younger than I am to do this, but it has to be their only focus.

Listen to the full interview with Howard Dean at the weblink above.


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