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Howard Dean on Government Reform

Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President


Not a “fine job” when Congress suffers ethics violations

The Republican definition of a “fine job” is to be reprimanded three successive times in a row for ethics violations and have a fourth one. The Republican definition of a “fine job” appears to be that your leader is under investigation and three of his cronies have just been indicted. That’s how the Republicans do business. We need to get rid of the culture of corruption and abuse of power in Washington. We need to be the party of reform, campaign finance and election reform.
Source: 2005 Take Back America Conference , Jun 2, 2005

Kerry stands up against PAC and lobbyist money

NADER [to Dean]: The issue here is the corporate government. Let’s not be distracted by the two parties that are simply proxies. We don’t want to settle for the lesser of two evils in our country.. What you’re hearing now is a desperate attempt to smear our campaign, which is struggling to get on the ballot against the massive anti-civil-liberties obstruction of the Democratic Party that’s really interfering with our campaign.

DEAN: You told the people of this country that you were going to use volunteer help to get on the ballot in Arizona. You hired out that help, and that’s why they made so many mistakes. The Public Citizen, which you founded, said earlier this year that John Kerry ranks at the top of senators in standing up against political action committee money, which he has never accepted in his career, and lobbyist money.

Source: NPR, “Justice Talking” Dean-Nader Debate , Jul 9, 2004

Need instant runoff voting to avoid threats like Nader

DEAN: We need complete electoral reform. We need, first of all, that Jesse Jackson Jr.’s constitutional amendment giving Americans the right to vote ought to be passed, so that the right wing of the Republican Party could not, as they did in 2000, disenfranchise thousands and thousands of African-American voters. Secondly, we wouldn’t be having this debate today if we had a system of instant runoff voting in this country. Then Ralph Nader would pose no threat to the election of John Kerry. If we had instant runoff voting, we could have the kind of debates that Ralph wants, open debates, because minor parties, third parties wouldn’t cause those problems.

NADER: The only way third parties have had leverage over the major party candidates is to deny them votes, is to say to them that for too long, they have ignored the needs of the American people. They’ve had their chance.

Source: NPR, “Justice Talking” Dean-Nader Debate , Jul 9, 2004

Voting “none of the above” avoids real world choices

NADER: In America, you can only vote “yes” when you go to the polls. You have no opportunity to vote “no confidence” in all the candidates. If you have binding “none of the above” on every ballot line, if you don’t like the candidates and you don’t want to write anyone in, you can vote binding “none of the above.”

DEAN: That is exactly the difference between the two of us. We live in a real world. We have to make real choices. Binding “none of the above” means we don’t have to make real choices.

Source: NPR, “Justice Talking” Dean-Nader Debate , Jul 9, 2004

First Democrat to opt out of campaign finance system

Howard Dean became the first Democratic presidential candidate ever to opt out of the federal public funding system yesterday. With his decision, Dean dealt a significant blow to the Watergate-era legislative changes that established the funding system.

Dean, seeking to fend off criticism for breaking with a program that he expressed support for as recently as last spring, said the move was intended to help repair a broken political funding system. He said he would recoup the forgone federal matching funds with millions of small donations. ‘’Instead of getting $2,000 checks from the heads of all the major corporations in the country, we asked 2 million Americans to give us $100,’’ Dean said.

Dean’s decision to depart from the federal campaign funding, made after 85% of 105,000 polled supporters gave their blessing in an online survey, set the stage for other Democrats to follow suit. Bush has announced his plans to forgo federal matching funds, as he did last election.

Source: Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe , Nov 9, 2003

Opts out of campaign finance system

Dean yesterday became the first Democrat ever to opt out of the taxpayer-funded presidential system, providing his campaign what could be a decisive long-term financial edge. Dean’s sudden move is sending shocks through the Democratic race, which polls show few voters outside of Iowa and New Hampshire have even tuned into. It is forcing several candidates to rethink or rework their strategies with the Iowa caucuses less than three months away, and is turning the contest into Dean vs. the rest of the field. Many Democrats, including key figures in Congress and at the Democratic National Committee, say they worry Dean may be too liberal or too abrasive to defeat President Bush. They are scrambling to stop the former governor before it is too late. Yet with so many candidates from which to choose, it is unlikely that the Democratic establishment, which Dean spends much of his time bashing at campaign events, could coalesce around an alternative.
Source: Jim VandeHei and Dan Balz, Washington Post, Page A1 , Nov 9, 2003

More poll watchers to oversee electronic voting machines

Q: I have been very disturbed about the security concerns surrounding the makers of electronic voting machines. Most alarming have been the allegations surrounding Diebold Election Systems and their attacks on those who have questioned their products and their behavior. Could you please discuss your feelings on this matter, the implications you think it has on our democracy, and what you would propose be done to address it?

A: The chairman of Diebold has sent a letter saying that he will do everything he can to get Bush reelected. This does not engender confidence in the American electoral system. If I become the Democratic nominee we will have teams, particularly in jurisdictions like Florida, who will be conducting poll watching activities to prevent the kind of Republican abuses that took place in the last election. We will do more work on the voting machine issue as the campaign moves along.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 6, 2003

Our campaign IS campaign finance reform

Q: How can you justify bypassing the public financing that we have struggled to attain?

A: Howard Dean: Our campaign is campaign finance reform. Bush is going to raise $200 million from corporate America. We are raising money with an average donation of $75 a piece. I think there are 2 million Americans who would give this campaign $100 if only they could send George Bush back to Texas. And if our campaign supporters vote to do that we plan to give them the chance.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 6, 2003

Reforms must respect state's rights to select electors.

Dean adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

In the wake of the United States presidential election in Florida, the Congress and the administration has expressed interest in federal standards for elections. Recognizing that Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grants states, not Congress, the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and conducting elections generally, most legislative proposals do not mandate federal standards. Rather, current proposals direct federal agencies or commissions to study and make recommendations concerning the election system. Nonetheless, the possibility of legislation in the 107th Congress requiring states to implement federal election standards remains. If enacted without adequate funding by the federal government, such legislation could also result in an unfunded mandate to the states.

NGA’s Position

Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grant states the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and provide that states are responsible for establishing election procedures generally. However, in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, the nation’s Governors recognize the need for election reform. NGA will continue to monitor federal legislation addressing this issue, but has not taken a position in support of or opposition to election reform efforts.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA11 on Aug 1, 2001

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Government Reform.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Howard Dean.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Howard Dean.
Other candidates on Government Reform: Howard Dean on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

Former Contenders:
V.P.Al Gore
Pat Buchanan
V.P.Dick Cheney
Sen.Bob Dole
Ralph Nader
Gov.Sarah Palin

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Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
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Secy.Robert Reich
Donald Trump
Gov.Jesse Ventura
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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014