A letter to MoveOn members from Howard Dean

MoveOn's "Virtual Primary", June 23 -June 26, 2003

Dear MoveOn member,

Our country is at stake. The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war is wrong for America. The Bush tax cuts are not about cutting taxes; they are about starving and destroying Social Security, Medicare, and our public schools. They call polluting our air "The Clear Skies Act," destroying old growth "The Healthy Forest Act," and taking away our civil liberties "The Patriot Act."

If you are as tired and angry as I am about the manipulation and lies, then please join my campaign by signing the Pledge to Take Back America. Let's show that millions of us are not ashamed to stand up for our values:


Too many in my party have failed to stand up to this administration's assault on our country's ideals. Let's show them that the era of conservative intimidation is over. People in Washington worry about "electability"-but they forget why they were elected in the first place. Silence equals defeat. Victory requires educating, organizing, and convincing.

Defeating George Bush will take nothing short of a massive grassroots movement. That's why we've taken a page from MoveOn's book by providing tools on our Web site to help build the movement in your community. Click below to see what's happening near you and to join in. And please forward this email to your friends -- I want everyone to know that there is a way to get involved, no matter where they live, or how much time they have:


Candidates who continue to say whatever it takes to be elected will lose. What Americans want is a leader who believes in and will fight for sensible and principled positions, including balanced budgets, health care for every American, and a defense policy consistent with American values. The only way we can beat George W. Bush is to stand for a clear alternative.

On my first day in office, I will tear up the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. I will end this President's policy of domestic division. I will repeal those parts of the Patriot Act that betray the Bill of Rights. And I will roll back this President's tax cuts, because we will never achieve social justice in this country unless we balance the budget.

I stood up against this President's attack on Iraq. I did not support his huge tax cuts. I did not support the misnamed "No Child Left Behind Act," which is raising property taxes all over America and bankrupting our public school system. Unlike all but one of my opponents, I have balanced a budget and I have appointed judges-and I am the only candidate who has made health care available to 99% of the children and 90% of the adults in my state.

I believe that we can protect ourselves from terrorism and protect the civil liberties that make our nation strong. I believe that we can grow and prosper while also protecting our environment. I believe that a free and brave nation will always be stronger than a fearful nation, and I refuse to submit to fear any longer.

Abraham Lincoln said that a government of the people, by the people and for the people would not perish from this earth. Only you-- we-- have the power to ensure that the ideals of America are not destroyed by this President's radical agenda. If you share my beliefs, then join me in pledging to take back America in 2004:


To plan or to join campaign events near you -- including a nationwide day of rallies and house parties on June 23 -- please click here:


We can only undo the damage this President has done by coming together as Americans today. MoveOn-and members like you-have proven that the grassroots has more power today than at any time in history. Yet MoveOn took years to grow to the size it is today. We do not have years. Years from now will be too late. We must come together now to defeat George W. Bush -- so please pass this email along to all of your friends who believe, as you do, that we must act now to take back America.


Governor Howard Dean
June 17, 2003

Candidate Interview

These seven questions were among the most popular of over 1,800 posted and rated by MoveOn members on a MoveOn ActionForum. You can also read all of the interview responses on a single page.

1. PEACE (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration has established the pre-emptive war doctrine as a cornerstone of its foreign policy. There is no end in sight to the ways in which this doctrine can be misused -- simply observe the lack of evidence to support the case for war in Iraq. In other words, barring a change in policy, any country can become the target of our military might. Furthermore, pre-emptive war only legitimizes military aggression by other nations as well. Will you repeal Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine? -
--Ricardo Cisternas, Engineer (June 12, 2003; Carlsbad, CA)

I’ve said all along that the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is wrong for America, and sets a dangerous precedent. The Democrats in Washington should have known this before they voted for this President’s war in Iraq. In fact, they did know it. In September of 2002, Al Gore warned that voting for the Iraq resolution would create “the precedent for preemptive action anywhere, anytime this or any future president so decides.” There were many reasons to oppose the war in Iraq, but that reason alone was paramount. Yet too many Democrats in Congress still voted for the war. It is incredible to me that so many who supported the war, knowing that it would set this precedent, now say that they are opposed to the doctrine of preemption. If they are opposed to the doctrine of preemption, then why did they vote for this preemptive war? I opposed the President’s war on Iraq, I continue to stand against his policy of preemption, and on my first day in office I will tear up the Bush doctrine and rebuild a foreign policy consistent with American values.

2. FREEDOM (see what other candidates said)
The enactment of Patriot Act I is a dangerous erosion of civil liberties in the United States. The proposed Patriot Act II is even more frightening. The purpose of both pieces of legislations seems to be the stifling of dissent rather than improving security in the U.S. If elected would you revisit the Patriot Act with the view of revising or repealing it? If we cannot speak without fear, we aren't living in a democracy.
--Bonnie Mulligan, Supervisor (June 11, 2003; Lanham, MD)

Too many in my party voted for the Patriot Act. They believed that it was more important to show bipartisan support for President Bush during a moment of crisis than to stand up for the basic values of our constitution. They trusted this President, knowing full well that John Ashcroft was the Attorney General. Only one senator had the courage to vote against the Patriot Act--- Senator Russ Feingold, and he deserves credit for doing so. We need more Democrats like Senator Feingold—Democrats who are willing to stand up for what is right, and stand against this President’s reckless disregard for our civil liberties. We don’t need John Ashcroft—or any other Attorney General—rifling through our library records. As Americans, we need to stand up—all of us—and ensure that our laws reflect our values. As President, I will repeal those parts of the Patriot Act that undermine our constitutional rights, and will stand against any further attempts to expand the government’s reach at the expense of our civil liberties.

3. RELEVANCE (see what other candidates said)
I think many people using MoveOn.org are concerned with the disastrous effects of the current administration. However, my sense is that most of mainstream America either does not see the faults or is too scared, for reasons related to Homeland and economic security, to question Bush's authority. How will you, the candidate, frame your message and reach out to mainstream America to show how the upcoming presidential election is relevant to their situation and demonstrate how the actions, policies, corporate influence and diplomatic laissez-faire of Team Bush is unhealthy for our country and our future?
--Karen Zgoda, (June 12, 2003; Brighton, MA)

I’m going to tell the American people the truth. James Madison, when speaking to the founding fathers, said, “What we fear the most is that economic power would try to seize democratic power.” Madison’s fear has been made real with the Administration of George W. Bush. Lincoln’s government of, by and for the people has been replaced by a government of the corporations, for the special interests, and by the campaign contributors. Our country was founded on the idea of democratic capitalism, in which the undeniable power of capitalism should be subservient to democracy, and not the master. We have to level with the American people about what is at stake in 2004: nothing less than the restoration or destruction of our American tradition. I believe we will win. The founding values of our nation are on our side. This is not a campaign about Democrats, or about Republicans, or about Greens or Independents—this is a campaign for America. That is the truth that must be told to the American people. So many in my party are afraid of speaking the truth; they are so afraid of losing, they have forgotten what it takes to win. We will win by standing up for America.

4. TRUTH (see what other candidates said)
I would like to know when a Democratic candidate will summon the courage to publicly question the honesty and truthfulness of President Bush. The barrage of spin alluding to intelligence failures and misleading advice of Bush's confidants belies the fact that he alone is ultimately responsible for his words and decisions. Will any candidate demand the truth and an end to this conspiracy of deceit?
--John Kowalko, Machinist (June 12, 2003; Newark, DE)

This President has completely inverted the political vocabulary of our nation. He calls undermining our civil liberties “The Patriot Act;” destroying old growth “The Healthy Forest Act;” and polluting our air “The Clear Skies Act.” I am not going to let this President continue to deceive the American people. I have consistently demanded that this President give reasonable evidence that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States. He did not do so before the war with Iraq. I have continued to ask, in regards to weapons of mass destruction, what did the President know and when did he know it? His answer to such questions? Attacking those who question him as “revisionist historians,” when he’s the one who is revising history even as we live it.

If we are going to defeat this President, his lies, and the more than $250 million he plans to raise for the 2004 election, we must all come together, today, to build the largest grassroots organization in the history of presidential politics. Self-government requires citizen participation. That is why I am seeking the MoveOn endorsement, and why I ask for your support in the MoveOn primary.

5. SOCIAL PAIN (see what other candidates said)
The present Administration and Congress have enacted huge tax cuts and extreme military spending which may well limit the ability of government to address social needs (health care, education, affordable housing, poverty reduction, etc) for some time to come, as well as entrap future generations in debt. Meanwhile, social ills become more acute. How will you balance fiscal responsibility with the growing needs for health care reform, reinvestment in education and affordable housing, etc?
--Cindy Maxey, organizer, health care justice organization (June 11, 2003; Cleveland, OH)

The truth is that this President’s agenda is not about cutting taxes; it’s about destroying Social Security, Medicare and our public schools through financial starvation. The President and the ideologues that surround him cannot get the country to agree to the privatization of Social Security and other services through open debate. Instead, in order to achieve their radical agenda, their tax cuts are designed to cause such financial hardship to our government that the only way to achieve financial balance in the future will be by privatizing Social Security, the public schools, and our public services—a privatization plan from which they and their contributors will be the chief beneficiaries. Only by repealing all of the president’s tax cuts and returning to fiscal responsibility today will we have any hope of having any social justice in the future.

6. ENERGY (see what other candidates said)
Without dependence on fossil fuels, the air and water would be cleaner and we could free ourselves from our poisonous and deadly entanglements with Middle-Eastern oil dictators. What is your view? Can you show the imagination, innovation and determination needed to serve our country through serving the environment?
--Hilary Jirka, Merchandiser (June 12, 2003; Chicago, IL)

Part of the reason this President’s foreign policy is such a disaster is because he has no energy policy. We need to wean ourselves from Middle East oil, because Middle East oil is the financial lifeline for the same terrorists that killed thousands of Americans in New York and Washington. Yet this President has no policy to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil. Instead, he argues that we should tear up our most treasured wild places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, rather than conserving energy by raising mileage standards for SUVs. As President, you have the ability to set the agenda. This President’s agenda has been to drill in our national parks. My agenda will be to make our country the world leader in developing renewable energy technologies. We need to move away from an economy based on fossil fuels and toward an economy based on renewable energy. It’s not just about improving mileage standards—although we should do that. It’s about setting a goal of ending our dependence on fossil fuels and focusing the full resources of the federal government on meeting that goal.

7. ENVIRONMENT (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration is engaged in an all out war against the environment. Nothing is safe in this assault - not our national parks, wilderness areas, endangered species, the water we drink or the air we breathe. The administration's energy and land use policies are based on the recommendations of private corporate supporters rather than on government-funded studies, their own appointees in the EPA or on public opinion (in keeping with the general disregard for civil rights, more and more often, public comment is not being taken into consideration - sometimes not even being allowed in environmental disputes). The short-sighted policies of this administration could have devastating effects on our country and our planet. Can the Democratic candidate assure us that he will support progressive environmental policies here at home, and assume a leadership position in the global effort to protect the environment?
--A.L. Zuckerman, Associate Producer (June 12, 2003; New York, NY)

This President has rejected the Kyoto treaty; he’s pushed to drill in ANWR and to log in the Tongass National Forest; he’s short-circuited the wilderness designation process and gutted our clean air and water acts. He has consistently sold out the interests of the American people for the short term gain of his campaign contributors. President Bush has shown zero leadership on the environment at a time when leadership on the environment is critical. Global warming is real, and not the fantasy this President believes it to be. Our window of opportunity to stop global warming is closing. I believe we have a moral obligation to combat climate change. We must protect global biodiversity. We must do it now, and if the United States is to play a leading role in the world environmental movement, we must defeat this President in 2004.

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