Governor Howard Dean of Vermont – for President?
On about September 6, 2001, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont announced that he would not run for another term as governor of that state. When he leaves office he will have served ten years in that capacity.
I lived in Vermont for about seven years’ worth of Dean’s administration. There were many areas on which I seriously disagreed with him or his policies, but he did maintain a level of fiscal sanity and for that I certainly respected him. Not all his predecessors (Madeleine Kunin, say) were so wise.
Now that he has announced he will not serve past this term as governor, people are asking ‘What will he do next?’ and there is speculation, including unfortunately I think some from Dean himself, about a run for U.S. President. What?!
Okay, Dean is a good guy, he did a decent job as governor of Vermont. But Vermont is a state of about a half-million people. It has no large cities, it has a limited scale of industries and a miniscule budget. This is not sufficient in any way to train someone for the US Presidency. No way.
There are those who said, or still say, that President G.W. Bush doesn’t have enough experience to be President – but he was a very rare (i.e. successful) two-term governor of Texas, second most populous state with somewhere around 20 million citizens. In topography, industry, culture, and other ways, Texas presents a very wide range of experience to whoever is its governor. Comparing Texas and Vermont drives home the difference in scale:
- For every citizen Vermont has, Texas has at least thirty.
- Texas has nine counties with populations exceeding that of all of Vermont – sometimes 3 or 4 times greater.
- Vermont’s largest city has a population of something like 40,000 people. That is the largest city in the whole state!
- Within only six of its metropolitan areas, Texas has twenty times the population of Vermont.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Vermont being a small state – but it doesn’t provide enough training for a President.
Sometimes it seems to me that Vermont has a swelled head about itself. The local Burlington Vermont TV news mentioned that Dean’s decision not to run again had been picked up and was making news across the country. Personally, I haven’t seen the story anyplace and I frankly doubt that 99% of Americans even know who Howard Dean is, let alone care if he runs for another term as VT governor. I also doubt that they would consider him a qualified candidate for President.
Dean is a doctor and might consider returning to practice or finding some public service where he can use his medical background effectively. I would like to think that he knows better than to entertain such thoughts as running for the Presidency. He’s a good guy, honest and basically moral (unless you have a problem with gay ‘civil unions’) but a President needs much more than that. Clearly there are people with far better qualifications in both major parties, to run for President. Calvin Coolidge was a Vermonter who became President - in an era when there was a heck of a lot less to know and do in order to run this country. And yet, what is Old Cal known for? Being silent? Anything else? Maybe even back then, Vermont wasn't training enough for someone to actually be an effective President... Today it certainly is not.