|Sharon Solomon and Howard Dean|
This photo is our past, our present, and our future. It was taken on April 16, 2011, at the North Idaho Democracy Luncheon at the Coeur d'Alene Resort and Casino in Worley, Idaho. I was there. It was exciting, inspirational, and educational. And I had the proud opportunity to hear, and even meet, Gov/Dr. Howard Dean.
In the photo above is Howard Dean, Governor, Doctor, Democratic National Committee Chair, past Democratic candidate for President, and one of the founders of Democracy For America. Dr. Dean represents both out present and our past. He represents our past because he has a history of engagement in Democratic, Progressive, and Populist politics. He also was one of the first politicians to make large scale use of the internet in the 2004 primary run for presidential candidacy. As president of the DNC, he implemented the 50-state strategy which was very beneficial to the Democrats in many states, including Idaho. Dr. Dean also represents our present because he is still a prominent political figure in Democratic circles and because his organization, Democracy For America, has become a primary part of Democratic training and education. He is also a dynamic speaker who doesn't shroud his speech in euphemisms, ambiguity, and hyperbole; instead, he goes straight to the heart of the matter and states the truth.
The other person in the photo is Sharon Solomon. She is our future. She is one of the "younger than thirty" generation who holds the fate of our country and possible even our world in her hands. Currently, Sharon is a student in north Idaho. She jumped at the opportunity to not just attend the luncheon/speaking engagement with Howard Dean, but she also attended the DFA training sessions as well. Sharon is part of the Millennial Generation and she is our future. And Sharon wasn't the only student there listening to Howard Dean. Students came from the University of Idaho, Lewis and Clark State College, North Idaho College, and as far away as the College of Southern Idaho.
Dr. Dean pointed out that polling during the 50-state strategy showed that Sharon's generation is the first multi-cultural generation. Also, it's a generation that is neither liberal nor conservative. Even President Obama, stated Dr. Dean, wants to work with both Republicans and Democrats because "he wants to get things done." He added that we should always listen to young people or we leave them behind. Actually, I think that if we don't listen, they leave us behind.
The anthropologist, Michael Wesch, made very clear in his video A Portal to Media Literacy, that students learn differently today. Technology makes a big difference, from cell phones to laptops, and to all the different ways this technology can be used. Furthermore, social networks like Facebook and even youtube are important aspects of these students' lives. Young people are not just our future, but it's a very different future than that of the baby boomers.
Republicans were not spared by Dr. Dean. He pointed out the obvious, but in a way that made me want to ponder these blatant facts. He said that Republicans don't care about facts and that Democrats allow Republicans to say anything they want. It's about time for Democrats to emphasize that we work for the working class, the middle class, the lower class, and all those who are not in the top 2% of the tax bracket. Dr. Dean pointed out that "we manage money fairly." Indeed, he said, we are fair and we want everyone to have opportunities. He added that as much as Republicans focus on social issues, "ideology doesn't put food on the table."
I am still amazed that Howard Dean came to Idaho. Usually we're the state that nobody wants to visit because we're so unimportant politically and we're also so Republican. That's changing. The number of Democratic votes is rising. Slowly. But as Dr. Dean said, we cannot just look to the next election, we have to look to the fifth election. Democrats from all around the state and even from out of state attended the luncheon. They came from the east and southeast, Lemhi to Twin Falls; from the southwest heading north, Ada to Benewah; and from the north to the south, from Boundary to Kootenai. They even came from Washington and Montana. Idaho, like a number of western states, are all too beautiful with too many good folks, to remain Republican. We share values about health care, education, social security, veterans, and privacy.
And we care as much about the future of our country as the generation who carries that future in their hands.