Yearly Kos: “This isn’t about the Democratic Party; it’s about the United States of America.”

Another action-packed day at YKC 06. Here, for starters, are some highlights from Howard Dean’s fine 8 a.m. address to bleary-eyed netroots-types. (Bleary-eyed, having spent Friday night at a party thrown by former Virginia governor Mark Warner, 108 storeys above the Strip at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino; a party featuring Elvis and Blues Brothers impersonators, an open bar, thrill rides, “Kos martinis,” and, yes, the dentally formidable presidential hopeful.)

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee:

This is the handoff between the baby boomers and the millennial generation. … This is a movement that’s not so different than the one in the sixties, to take back America. … In the sixties what we fought for was individual rights, equal rights under the law for every single American. We’re still fighting for those things today, but we have lost our way, starting in 1980, when the “Me Party” took over from the “We Party.”

Interestingly, none of the things the Republican Party predicted came true. They are the party of big government interfering in people’s personal decisions; they are the party of secrecy and dishonesty. And they are the party of the largest national debt in the history of the country and in fact the history of the free world.

So now this is the generation that takes the country back to the ideals laid before us by Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy. But it’s a different generation, and you know more about the world than we did. … You understand that we are all citizens of the world…because of the [Inter]net. What we are now engaged in is a new American generation, a community, that wants to restore American values, the best American values…the American values of ordinary people.

What I think Americans really want is not just to beat up on the right wing. The president is at 30 percent in the polls; I think people get it. Now, a sentence every once in a while reminding people what they’re doing is a very good thing. But I think people want a unified country. They really do want to reach out to everybody, understanding that we’re all in this together. It’s why the scapegoating politics of the right isn’t working. And you’re a big piece of that.

When the right wing took over the country, they did it by fighting every day for four years. And then their next cycle would start the day after the election. That’s what we have to do in the Democratic Party. I do care about the Democratic Party; I think the Democratic Party is heads above the Republican Party. But the truth is, this isn’t about the Democratic Party; it’s about the United States of America. And the Democratic Party is the vehicle to reform America.

But this is a tough fight, and you don’t win just because you’re right. You win because you outwork the other guys, you’re tougher than the other guys and…because you appeal to the higher instincts of people instead of to people’s worst instincts. Those guys win elections by scapegoating people. From Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” to George Bush’s gay and lesbian Americans. … We will not do that, because it’s bad for America, and the one big difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is that they will put the interests of the Republican Party ahead of the interests of the United States of America, and we will not do that.

Click here for video clips from the Yearly Kos convention.

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