Good article on democratic hopeful Dean. He seems to mix fiscal conservatism/pragmatism with social liberalism to an extent that I find wholly admirable.
All of your progressive ideas, Dean told his party caucus, won't amount to anything if Vermonters don't trust you with their money -- and they don't.
"He made us very disciplined about spending, even if we didn't really like it," said former state Senate president Dick McCormack, who sat in that caucus room in 1992. "I was a liberal Democrat, and I fought him a lot, but he made the Democrats very hard to beat."
"I'm a fiscal conservative, and I believe in social justice," Dean said in a recent interview. "I'm most proud of our fiscal stability -- I left the state in better shape than I found it."
"He was very much an incrementalist," said Davis, the Middlebury professor. "He tried some grand steps on health care, but he came to see a succession of small steps as the key to governing."
Over the next decade, he successfully expanded a health insurance program to guarantee health coverage for every child in the state and insisted that the state health plan pay for mammograms. The state now has a prescription drug benefit for those with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level.
"Capitalism is a great system, and to make it work you must have social justice," Dean said. "But it's all in the balancing. Government is the mediator."
In December 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that gay couples are entitled to the same legal benefits and protections as heterosexual couples. Dean, who had maintained a studious silence on the subject, immediately asked the state legislature to take up the matter. He signed the bill into law in April 2000.
"I certainly can't claim credit for leading that revolution -- gay marriage hadn't been on the radar screen before that vote," Dean recalled. "But I did say, we'll obey the law and this bill is the right thing to do."