“This is your time,” said Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Don’t blow it.”
Students, alongside members of the public, were encouraged to become politically engaged in this year’s election last Friday, when Dean spoke at a rally for Sen. Barack Obama. The rally was hosted by the Temple College Democrats.
Like Obama, Dean called for change while challenging voters to do whatever they could to help with the campaign such as volunteering or making a donation.
“You get a ‘D’ for voting,” Dean said. “We need more than that.”
He is currently traveling to get voters registered and build support in Pennsylvania, a swing state that is being heavily courted by both parties.
Dean said the country needs to change its presence within the international community. It is time for America to restore its “moral authority” throughout the world. “We’ve got to be the country of hope and high ideas,” Dean said.
Giving the opening introduction for Dean was Mayor Michael Nutter, who originally supported Sen. Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary. Now he, along with many others, has made the switch over to supporting Obama.
“As Americans, we’re used to taking on challenges. If we can put a man on the moon, we can put Barack Obama in the White House,” Nutter said.
Dean drew comparisons between this election and the one in 1960, when Sen. John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Vice President Richard Nixon in the popular vote by 118,000.
It was not the candidates that were the focus of Dean’s dialogue, but rather the culture surrounding that era, calling then and now both a time of “generational change.”
Dean referenced Kennedy’s inaugural address saying, “Let the word go forth . . . that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage.”
Dean claimed responsibility for what he says was the failure of his generation for taking time off of politics after winning many of the political battles they fought so hard for. “But politics is not something you can take time off of,” Dean said.
While he encouraged students, Dean was certainly not short of criticism for the Republican Party and its candidate for president.
“I admired John McCain for a long time. The John McCain in 2000 wouldn’t vote for the John McCain now,” Dean said.
Nutter lauded the efforts of Dean as DNC chairman and his 50 State Strategy, a plan for Democrats to reach across party borders to states they have traditionally written off.
“It’s kind of like Star Trek. We’ve gone to places we’ve never gone before,” Nutter said.
He cited Dean as the reason Democrats were able to work in states that they would not have considered four years ago.
The students themselves had various expectations on what they wanted to hear, but it seemed most wanted to learn more about the Obama campaign.
Junior criminal justice major Mary O’Rourke said the biggest issues to her were Roe v. Wade, the war and the country’s energy crisis.
“I think we should have another kind of energy developed and eliminate dependence on foreign oil,” O’Rourke said.
Matt Clinger, a junior anthropology major, said he was excited to hear more about the issues in the Obama campaign, while he described the Republican ticket as “rigid.”
“I feel like a lot of [Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin’s] policies are outdated in their fashion, and I feel like Obama and Biden are for change,” Clinger said.
The rally, held at the Student Center, brought in a crowd of more than 200, with some lining up nearly an hour early to get a front-row view of the podium.
Elizabeth Hanson, president of TCD, said she felt people were generally unhappy with the direction the country was heading.
Hanson, a junior political science major, echoed the sentiments of Dean and Nutter, stressing the importance of voting for Temple students.
“This is our community,” Hanson said. “This is where we live. We should be voting here.”
Kriston Bethel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.