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“The American Dream is still very much alive”

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(Boston Revised 4/25/12)  New England Law | Boston: Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean emphasized our common goals and aspirations in his Law Day Banquet address to the New England Law | Boston community on April 13, 2012. Dean was a six-term governor of Vermont, a 2004 presidential candidate, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

This year’s Law Day Banquet and Anna E. Hirsch Lecture took place at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers.  The event was attended by more than 875 students, faculty, alumni, and guests, including U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, former U.S. Attorney and New England Law trustee Wayne A. Budd, Attorney General Martha Coakley, former Attorney General Tom Reilly, Supreme Judicial Court Justices Robert J. Cordy and Barbara A. Lenk, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf, other current and retired state and federal judges, and district attorneys for several counties.

From “Scream” to Dream

Governor Dean began his remarks with a mini-rendition of perhaps his best known public address, the post-Iowa primary pep talk that was lampooned by the media as the “Dean scream.” Smiling broadly, he told Law Day attendees about his upcoming plans. “We’re going on to South Carolina and Oklahoma!” he announced to appreciative cheers.

He then settled into a critique of the nation’s current political condition and his motivations for remaining in political battle. “I’m going to be a culture warrior until the day I die,” he proudly exclaimed. The founder of Democracy for America, age 63, described his generation as “people who wanted to change the system—and in many ways we did.” He assured students in the audience: “This is an extraordinary country, and in many ways the American Dream is still very much alive.”

As evidence, he pointed to last fall’s online protests that convinced Bank of America to back off from a proposed fee increase. He spoke admiringly of the new ways that the Internet—a tool whose use he pioneered during his presidential bid—continues to empower citizens.

“We all vote on values”

As the Democrats’ leader, one of Governor Dean’s major initiatives was to make his party’s case to all voters, even to blocs that traditionally favored the GOP. When “values voters” were credited for President Bush’s reelection in 2004, Governor Dean immersed himself in the issue and concluded that the differences between the parties might not be so great after all.

“We all vote on values—Democrats and Republicans both,” he said at Law Day. After researching those on the opposite ends of the political spectrum he saw that their motivations were common to Americans as a whole. “They want to hear about where they fit in and how they can make the world a better place,” he explained.

One of Vermont’s longest-serving governors

A graduate of Yale University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Howard Dean practiced family medicine in Vermont before beginning his political career in 1982. He served as state representative, lieutenant governor, and then governor for 12 years, the second longest serving in state history. As governor he was known for his fiscal responsibility and his efforts in health-care reform, and he served as chairman of the National Governors Association, the Democratic Governors Association, and the New England Governors' Conference. 

He currently works as an independent consultant and as a CNBC contributor. 

Law Day:  An annual celebration

Law Day was established in 1958 by proclamation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Celebrated annually by the nation’s legal community and the general public, it promotes awareness of our country’s laws and justice system and the role they play in maintaining our nation’s freedoms.


Recent Law Day Banquets at New England Law have featured Supreme Court Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg; U.S. Senator Scott Brown; U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas; former chief UN weapons inspector, Dr. Hans Blix; and former federal Court of Appeals judge and solicitor general Kenneth Starr.

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