Former Democratic National Committee chairman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Tuesday that he wanted to see the left elect "real progressive Democrats" this fall at the Take Back the American Dream Conference, sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future in Washington, D.C. "I'm not interested in electing Democrats who behave like Republicans once they're elected. That's how we lost the public option."
Dean, who can still fire up a progressive crowd, spoke about the need to push for the president's re-election this fall. The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate received a standing ovation when he said, "One of the reasons I'm supporting Barack Obama for re-election is I want two more [Supreme Court] justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor."
He warned against supporting Koch brothers-backed companies and fighting against the unlimited spending allowed by the Supreme Court's Federal Election Commission v. Citizens United decision in 2010. "How many of you buy Brawny paper towels? Don't do it. The Koch brothers make it," he said. "America was not meant to be owned by corporations and I'll be damned if I'm going to allow that to happen."
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (D) took the stage after Dean, saying that he was disappointed with the "whining" he sees in the progressive movement and asked progressives to take "personal responsibility" for communicating what they want changed. "Martin Luther King never called Lyndon Johnson and said, I'm feeling down today. You're not inspiring me Lyndon. You're not making me feel it. The movement always drives the leaders. Don't ever be confused about what's going on here."
Gloria Totten, president and executive director of Progressive Majority, said, "The most depressing thing I hear when I'm out knocking on doors is that we're all the same."
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who also spoke Tuesday and is facing a re-election battle in Ohio this fall, reminded progressives that when his state faced a repeal of collective bargaining rights, progressive organizers dropped off 1.3 million signatures opposing the measure in Ohio's secretary of state office, enough to get the state secretary to call in a structural engineer to see if the floor would hold the weight of the petitions. "We need you more than ever this year. My voice might not be the prettiest," Brown said in reference to his famously gravelly voice, "but I'm going to speak out for a stronger America."
[Former Gov. Howard Dean via Netroots Nation 2011 | Mona T. Brooks / Flickr]