What ‘the Dean’ has to offer to raise awareness



Meredith Davisson

Let’s be honest. Few of us actually

listened to the Democratic debates

at Drexel on Oct. 30. They were too

long and drawn out for our puny

attention spans, the candidates all

say the same things, and five more of

them will happen between now and

January. What was more interesting

was what was happening before the

debates on Drexel’s campus.

Pennsylvania Governor and

Villanova School of Law graduate

Ed Rendell and Chris Matthews

were chatting on “Hardball” in the

Drexel quad over screaming Ron

Paul supporters.

Paul constituents are extremely

loyal and sometimes loony, as we at

Villanova have witnessed recently

with the anonymous chalk propaganda

all over campus.

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel

was stewing across the street at the

World Live Café, broadcasting his

own debate since “corporate censorship”

at NBC would not allow him

to share the stage with Barack and


ACT UP, the Aids Coalition to

Unleash Power, was brewing at the

corner of 34th and Chestnut, chanting

and jeering in skeleton masks

while they pushed wheelbarrows full

of limp, white mannequins representing

AIDS victims and demanded

more of Hillary’s health-care plan.

And I was at a roundtable with

DNC Chairman Howard Dean along

with 10 other area college journalists

in the Main Building before the

debates began. At this unique event,

the governor of Vermont answered

our questions for over an hour about

the issues most pertinent to college

students and explained how the

Democratic Party plans to appeal

to the most powerful group of voters

this time next November.

First, Dean introduced the

“Neighbor to Neighbor” plan, a

grassroots effort to communicate

the ideals of the Democratic Party

literally door-to-door. At the end of

this week, thousands of volunteers

will knock on doors, 25 houses at a

time. They will do so three separate

times throughout the year in order to

develop a relationship with voters.

Dean claimed that this kind of

personal communication is more effective

than the “hate radio” of Rush

Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly.

“The idea is to show up, let them

know that we’re not anything like

what those guys say,” Dean said.

When I asked Dean about the issues that are most important to

young adults this election, Dean

cited the cost of college, the environment

and a balanced budget.

“The Republicans cut Pell Grants

so that they could finance the war,”

he said. “They’re going to turn us

into a banana republic if they keep

it up. We need to put back the Pell

Grants, cut the interest rate in half,

expand the numbers of Pell grants,

and increase them by a good percentage.”

About the environment, Dean

was not particularly illustrative.

“The environment is an important

issue for young people because 65 is

a lot closer to me than it is to you.”

And regarding the budget, an

issue he believed to be surprisingly

important to young people he said,

“You all are the ones that are going

to be stuck with the Bush deficits.

That’s going on your credit card.”

One issue he did not explicitly

mention until the roundtable asked

was the war. The Democrats’ idea

for Iraq? A complete pullout, first

removing the National Guard while

training the Iraqi Police force and

Iraqi army and finally removing

the remainder of the troops over 18


“I have no illusions that Iraq is

going to be terrible when we leave,

but it’s going to be terrible if we leave

in one year, two years or 20 years,”

Dean said. “We can’t pull out our

troops tomorrow. It’s not physically

possible, but reasonably it would

take us about a year and a half.”

Dean was adamant about giving

our generation an A on the level of

political participation and involvement.

“I think your generation is grossly

underestimated,” he said. “My generation

got a million people on the

White House lawn during Vietnam,

but you guys write a few million

e-mails to Congress and shut down

their email system.”

According to Dean, voting participation

was up 24 percent between

2002 and 2006 within the block of

voters aged 18-29, but he mentioned

an unusual voting pattern that this

age group seems to follow.

“Most people your age are registering

non partisan and voting

Democrat, which means that we

have to earn that vote every time,”

he said.

When asked why the Democrats

deserve to represent the younger

generation, Dean replied, “Your age

group has built a much more multicultural

generation. The reason

that is important is when you look

at the Democratic Party, your age

group looks at us, and we look like

you. And you are the future of this


Ending appropriately, Dean had


The Election ’08 Coverage

this to say: “Every one of our campaigns

has to be about people your

age, because if it isn’t, we will pay for

that for the next 60 years.”