Volume 73, Number 37 | January 14 - 20, 2004


Howard Dean is leading the way, at least so far

As seen at last Sunday night’s “Downtown for Dean” meeting sponsored by Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats at the L.G.B.T. Community Center on W. 13th St., Howard Dean has built a strong base of support in Downtown Manhattan. His backers include some of the district’s most progressive politicians, as well as people who have never been involved in politics before.

Why is Dean appealing to these newcomers to politics? The reason is twofold. First, it’s because of his bold positions on the issues. Second, it’s his fearlessness in saying what he believes.

Dean’s position on gay civil unions, which he backed as governor of Vermont, clearly is a major factor in the support he’s built in the gay and lesbian community. But beyond that, he’s staked out positions that distinguish him from the rest of the field of Democrats. Dean has been the most strident, unwavering opponent of the Bush administration’s preemptive war with Iraq. Many voters are simply turned off by the hypocrisy of other candidates who say they voted for the war but really were against it. Now, news reports come that Bush planned to oust Saddam from day one, prior even to 9/11, which could further strengthen Dean.

Also, Dean has outstripped his rivals in fundraising, largely because his campaign is the first to capitalize on the incredible power of the Internet as a fundraising tool. When Dean, after speaking at the Center last year, almost offhandedly reminded supporters to go home and contribute to his campaign by Internet, who would have guessed then at the significance of those words.

Certainly, the race for the Democratic nomination is not over by any means, and Downtown is not uniformly behind Dean. Clark, Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman and even Kucinich all enjoy some local support. But the lessons to be learned so far from the Dean campaign are unmistakable: that speaking honestly, directly and forthrightly to issues as one truly sees them appeals on a visceral level to voters. And also that the Internet is the wave of the future in political mobilization and fundraising.

Kudos to Lopez for Wash. Sq. funds

City Councilmember Margarita Lopez’s recent allocation of $500,000 for the renovation of Washington Sq. Park was a surprising and tremendous boost to the effort to renovate Greenwich Village’s landmark crown jewel. So far, only she and Councilmember Alan Gerson, who contributed $600,000, have anted up funds for the park’s planned renovation, estimated at $6 million to $10 million. We’re grateful to her, and hope other city elected officials will follow suit.


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