By Howard Dean - 11/30/05 12:00 AM EST
2005 has been a good year for Democrats. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has trained and hired local organizers on the ground in 49 states. These organizers are critical to our victories in 2006 and beyond.
We’ve shattered the 2001 post-presidential-year fundraising record, despite not being able to collect soft money. Through our grassroots Democracy Bonds program, we’ve doubled the number of monthly givers to the DNC.
Our leaders in the House and Senate stuck together on issues such as fiscal responsibility and Social Security, and they continue to pressure the administration for the truth about manipulating prewar intelligence, sending a strong message that Democrats will fight for what is right.
And for the first time in recent memory, the DNC, the Democratic House and Senate leadership and Democratic mayors and governors are sitting at the same table to create policies and strategies for restoring honest government and fiscal responsibility to America.
The early results in California, Virginia and New Jersey are good. Local races in St. Louis, Parkersburg and Minnesota, where we picked up seats that had been Republican for up to 58 years, are even better.
This is a solid beginning, but there is more we must do. Cutting the fundraising advantage the other party enjoys from 3-1 to 2-1 is good but not good enough. Sticking together on the budget and supporting Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) great courage are good starts, but we need to continue to work together on judicial nominations, environmental legislation, trade and jobs to send effectively the message that we are again ready to lead the American people with purpose and in a fundamentally new direction.
In 2006, Democrats will take back the House and the Senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have done an excellent job recruiting strong candidates, and we are already investing in the local infrastructure to ensure they win. But the key to winning is running a national campaign based on our different vision and the themes that Democrats around the country have put forward.
Americans of all political persuasions are tired of and worried about the culture of corruption that Republicans have brought to Washington and to so many statehouses around America. We will offer real ethics reform and election reform so that the Government Accountability Office can report in three years that we can have confidence in our voting machines.
We will offer a program for American jobs that stay in America and for energy independence that will create jobs and wean us off of foreign oil.
The only president to balance a budget in the past 37 years was a Democrat. We will do that again.
We will offer a real tax-reform program that helps the middle class pay for it by eliminating the shocking waste and giveaways the Republican Congress and president have added to the budget and subtracted from revenues in the past five years.
We will join the 36 other countries that manage to include all their citizens in their health-insurance systems while simultaneously balancing their budgets.
We will provide a strong public education system by avoiding bureaucratic federal mandates and taxpayer-funded puff pieces. We will rely on local control while requiring real standards that work nationally.
We will offer Americans real security. We all agree that 2006 must be a transition year in Iraq. While we may have different ideas about tactics and timing, it’s clear we must change course. The vision of strategic redeployment set forward by Brian Katulis and former Reagan Defense Department official Lawrence Korb offers a likely roadmap to success that we can coalesce around.
We will offer the American people a government that is honest in preparing for any deployment of American troops and honor their sacrifice when they come home.
Most important, we will talk about Democratic values, which are America’s values.
The vast majority of Americans believe it is immoral to lets kids go hungry. We agree. The other party cuts school lunches (they just can’t seem to leave that one alone.)
Americans believe it is immoral that not everyone has some kind of health insurance. We agree.
The vast majority of Americans believe that government overreaching into personal and family decisions is wrong. We agree.
Americans believe that it is immoral to leave huge debts to our children and grandchildren. We agree.
Americans believe that using issues to divide us as a country to win elections is bad for America. We will restore America’s sense of community.
Together, America can do better. And in 2006, the Democrats will lead America to do just that.
Dean is chairman of the Democratic National Committee.