When former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and his classmate wanted to halt the Vietnam War, they waived picket signs and marched. When college students of today want to make change, they head to their computer.
Dean spoke to a packed Casella Theater at Castleton College March 31 about how the Internet has created a more global generation and changed how people can interact and mobilize to right wrongs.
Dean was Vermont’s longest serving governor at 12 years from 1991 to 2003. He also ran for president in 2004 before conceding the ticket to John Kerry.
Dean addressed the crowd about how fast moving and motivated this generation is compared to his, with the help of social media and Internet.
“When we wanted to get something done like stop the Vietnam War, we picketed and marched for month upon month, year upon year,” he said.
Dean explained how an online group halted the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was backed by big business interests, with the power of the Internet. Throughout the speech he stressed how fast our generation can react because of the communication outlets.
He said he believes soon enough college students will band together online to fight student debt.
“The power this generation has far exceeds anything like the power my generation had,” Dean said.
Another example the former governor brushed upon was the halt of charges on Bank of America customers’ debit cards. Consumers joined together on websites like Change.org and threatened to leave the bank if the $5 monthly fee wasn’t removed.
Bank of America retracted the fees as a result.
“The internet makes this generation extraordinary. You have the ability to affect public policy,” he said.
Dean believes it’s now so easy to connect with different cultures and societies throughout the world to become more accepting. This is making a global generation and making room for civic engagement.
Prior to his talk, Dean was introduced by friend and former colleague, President Dave Wolk.
Wolk made it clear Dean is a very bright man with deep family roots.
“This man in one of the most intellectually gifted people I have ever encountered,” Wolk said.
He continued to enlighten the crowd with the former governor’s accomplishments including preserving farmland, creating health insurance to everyone under 18 and including more women in higher office positions.
History professor Carrie Waara said she very much agrees with Dean’s opinion about world relations.
“My favorite part of Dean’s talk was when he described your generation as the first generation to be truly open and inclusive and personally engaged with people who are not just like you, racially, ethnically, nationality-wise, sexuality-wise,” Waara said.
With many positive ideas our generation is dealing with comes Dean’s biggest fears for this generation. He was adamant about advising students of the importance of voting and preserving democracy.
“Democracy is like every other human creation, if you don’t maintain it, it will die,” Dean said.
As he finished, many stood and applauded his speech.
Sophomore Ariel Mroz-Brewer felt motivated after the speech.
“We are always reminded of the terrible things happening in this world, we have to remember we can fix the world’s issues,” she said.