Ex-presidential candidate urges students to organize
Former presidential candidate Howard Dean visited campus Tuesday to drum up Democratic support in New Mexico.
Students gathered in the SUB Theater to hear Dean speak about national issues including health care and political participation.
“Being in a democracy requires obligations, not just freedoms,” Dean said. “I don’t like talking about freedom, because people always want to talk about their rights and they never want to talk about their responsibilities. Freedom isn’t free. What freedom demands of us is working at it. Democracy is a human invention, and like every other human invention, if you don’t nurture it, it dies.”
B. Lee Drake, national chair of the College Democrats of America, said he hopes Dean’s appearance will inspire students to realize their potential.
“I’m hoping they will walk away with a realization that these are real people and get the sense that it is possible,” the UNM graduate student said. “This allows us to broadcast to students what they are capable of. I’m hoping it will send a strong message to students that we all have the capability to do great things.”
Consistent political involvement makes the government the best it can be, Dean said, so students should get involved.
UNM student Miranda Aragon said she was excited to see Dean in person.
“I think it’s important that you listen to good speakers and political figures that you see in the media and hear them first-hand and see what they have to say,” she said. “We need to understand what is going on in politics. I think it’s important to be able to ask them questions and understand where they are coming from.”
Dean’s visit could rekindle UNM student activism, said Melissa Trent, vice president of UNM College Democrats.
“It’s a great chance to see someone that has worked on such a huge national level,” she said. “Students will get to learn from an inside source what the Democratic Party is about and how important it is to be engaged in politics no matter what party you are in.”
Student Angie Poss said governmental success is dependent on communal participation.
“I don’t think enough people are involved in politics. You need to know what’s going on in your country,” she said. “Events like this benefit us by allowing us to know how we can get involved and help our community to make the changes we think are necessary to make the New Mexico government better.”
The economy is on its way to recovery, Dean said, but it will not improve without some forceful nudging from Americans.
“This economy is going to get better and is already getting better, but we can’t have a generation of people who have to spend eight years in higher education because they can’t get jobs anywhere,” he said. “The only way that gets better is to say to the people that are taking our money, ‘I want you to invest this money in America and not push it back and forth in Wall Street.’”
Drake said that if students don’t get involved, the government will push them around.
“If we aren’t active, they aren’t afraid of us, and if they aren’t afraid of us, they can make us their scapegoats,” he said. “It is absolutely critical to be involved, because otherwise we’ll take a larger hit. Our political system is arranged so that all of us have the power to affect the government and advocate for ourselves.”
Social change begins from the bottom up, Dean said, and everyone should participate.
“We do have the power. The question is whether we are willing to use it or not. In order to use it depends on our willingness to stick to it,” he said. “We can do it — state by state and community by community.”