By Brittany Urick ’10
In front of a standing-room only audience in the Friend Center April 13, former Democratic National Committee chairman and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean delivered a lecture titled “Obama, The President of a New Generation of Americans” and urged students to continue the political involvement seen during the 2008 presidential election.
Dean highlighted the election of the first multiracial president as a quintessential example of American exceptionalism, breaking with the cynicism that increasingly crept into American politics during George W. Bush’s presidency. People around the world, especially Europeans, were inspired by the outcome, he said.
“Why did they love it? Because we are back,” Dean said. “We did something that nobody else in the world would do. … When the mold is broken it always raises extraordinary hope among human beings.”
While Dean claimed that, “Obama won because he ran the best campaign of anybody I’ve ever seen,” he cited the current young generation as the true engine of change: socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and ultimately invested in the political issues at hand. Obama’s genius was to capitalize on and function as a “giant parabolic mirror” for a generation that is not only bent on making the world a better place, but also open to bipartisanship.
Dean spoke about Obama’s employment of the “50 State Strategy” during the 2008 campaign, which was designed to “de-demonize” the Democratic Party and reach out to conservative groups all across the country in order to find possibilities for cross-party understanding and compromise. He claimed this strategy was representative of new style of politics that is markedly different from that of the “confrontational” generation to which he belongs.
“Our generation wore the country out, and we wore ourselves out,” Dean lamented. “We are retired [at] young ages from politics. … We took a vacation from politics. That you can never do, because it isn’t Barack Obama who’s going to save the country. It’s you.”