WASHINGTON - Howard Dean, a former presidential candidate and former head of the Democratic National Committee, opened up the new year on a hateful note by playing the race card against "tea party" supporters of limited government.
Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are condemning Dean's lack of decorum and his simplistic interpretation of the historic midterm elections.
"Obviously struck and frustrated by the complete rejection of progressive policies and the reality of a host of new tea party-backed members of Congress coming to Washington, Howard Dean threw a verbal tantrum and made unfounded claims eluding to racism being a big factor. He should be ashamed of himself," said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli.
At a breakfast meeting held by The Christian Science Monitor on January 5, Dean, who was commenting on the conservative shift on Capitol Hill, implied that opposition to the policies of the Obama Administration had much to do with the President's race. Dean said: "I think it's the last gasp of the 55-year-old generation... It's a group of older folks who have seen their lives change dramatically... They don't know what to do. It's just a huge change. They never thought the day would ever come. Every morning they see the President they're reminded that things are totally different than when they were born."
"I'm black, nowhere near 55 and a strong supporter of the less government, less taxes and spending and increased freedom that the tea parties embody," said Borelli. "For Howard Dean to throw rhetorical bombs implying racial animosity is irresponsible and actually quite hateful itself. Breeding discontent is not going to create jobs. Listening to new ideas will."
"Dean may be right that many tea partiers are older and many more are whiter than me, but I don't see the racial panic Dean infers. I am a 25-year-old black college student who has spoken frequently at tea party rallies, and I receive applause and cheers for speaking from my heart about individual responsibility, the values of hard work and American exceptionalism," said Project 21 member Jerome Hudson.
Hudson continued: "Dean's comments are of a consistent and tactical narrative meant to spin the situation. The midterm election proved that the tea party message of less spending, lower taxes and a constrained federal bureaucracy won with American voters. In response, Dean and others on the left appear ready to play the race card to shore up any remaining vestiges of power."
Borelli added: "Dr. Dean's analysis is a complete misdiagnosis of the tea party and the issues that are driving political change in America. With such flawed judgment, it's a good thing Dean is no longer practicing medicine. The tea party is a remedy to the toxic policies of the Obama agenda. The recent progressive legislative and regulatory stranglehold brought high unemployment and three dollars a gallon gasoline. You don't need a medical degree to see the real cause of what's unsettling to Americans and how -- as a body politic -- they are treating what's ailing them."
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research.