Howard Dean: ‘Elections Are Not the Time to Educate People’

October 18, 2010 - 11:16 AM

health care law

President Obama signs the Democrats’ health care bill into law in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says Democrats campaigning for the Nov. 2 mid-term elections should wait until they win before “educating” constituents about the benefits they will derive from the health care law signed into law by President Barack Obama in March.

Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, asked Dean on Saturday why Democrats are not touting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while campaigning.

“I don't think we should be making the case right now,” Dean said. “Elections are not the time to educate people. You win the election, then you educate people afterwards,” Dean said.

“But the president's doing what he should be doing. This is a bare-knuckle fight. It's between the far right, which has taken over the Republican Party, and the rest of us.”

Dean also said the popularity of the health care law will increase once people understand how it will help them.

“Well, I think actually you're seeing more and more people that are,” Dean said. “The more people that begin to understand the bill, which is incredibly complex, the better I think the bill does.”

Dean served six terms as the 79th governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009.

A partial transcript from the NPR interview follows:

Simon: Why haven't Democratic candidates been out on the hustings boasting about having passed President Obama's comprehensive health care reform?

Mr. Dean: Well, I think actually you're seeing more and more people that are. The more people that begin to understand the bill, which is incredibly complex, the better I think the bill does.

On the other hand, the bill was very controversial. Bill Frist the other day said this is not a government takeover and nobody should say that it is. It's just not a government takeover. And I think the exaggerations and the hyperbole on the Republican side - you know, the voters are much smarter than politicians think they are. So there're some real things in this bill that are going to benefit us in the long run.

Simon: But what about this election cycle? Is it hard to make the case for it now?

Mr. Dean: I don't think we should be making the case right now. Elections are not the time to educate people. You win the election, then you educate people afterwards. But the president's doing what he should be doing. This is a bare-knuckle fight. It's between the far right, which has taken over the Republican Party, and the rest of us.

Simon: Governor, if an electoral campaign isn't the time to try and educate the public, when is that time?

Mr. Dean: It's while the bill's passing. And we didn't do so well, I don't think, in that one. But, you know, that's not part of this debate. That's part of another debate later on. Right now we've got to focus on the election.