choosing a democratic candidate

This is from a comment on a diary entry over on DailyKos. I think it's really, really good, so I'm just going to quote the whole thing:

I've been working for Governor Howard Dean because I asked myself one, very troubling question:

How did this President manage to sweep aside sixty years of democratic progress and practically banish our party from real power in Washington - when he didn't even win the popular vote?

The Answer? Because our leaders failed to stand up FOR us by not standing up AGAINST the Republicans.

Instead of defending our principles, our leaders have time and again voted with the right wing and against our interests.

The fact is, for all the issues that really matter to Democrats, Howard Dean has been the candidate to speak out most forcefully, consistently and courageously - for our side.

Just ask the people of Vermont.

While Congress has for years made endless speeches about healthcare and fiscal responsibility, Doctor Howard Dean, as governor, delivered...

He brought health care coverage to 99% of the children and 96% of adults in Vermont - the best record in the nation. His Success by Six program lowered child abuse by 45%. More than a third of Medicare recipients receive state help in paying for prescription drugs and his home health care program, enables more seniors to live with dignity in their own homes instead of being institutionalized.

In spite of inheriting a record deficit, Dean did all of this, and much more, while balancing the budget 11 years in a row and building up a surplus that has allowed Vermont to prosper while other states have suffered. He created 20% more jobs, raised the minimum wage twice and cut income taxes - twice.

...And the people of Vermont re-elected him five times.

Our choice is about far more than campaign promises and noble sounding speeches. It's about selecting the person who lives by his convictions and actually makes them work for the people. Like Howard Dean did for the people of Vermont.

Our party leaders in Washington have been afraid to oppose George Bush on the Iraq war and the Patriot Act and the Medicare bill and on dozens of other critical issues, because they -- were afraid to be called Democrats.

But because Howard Dean -- much like Harry Truman -- was willing to fight for the truth; he has again made it an act of patriotism to question the Bush administration.

And in doing so he is invigorating the Democratic Party. We have become more engaged and more active in our democracy than we have been in over forty years - hundreds of thousands of people have come back into the party -- because of Howard Dean's vision.

And that's what it will take to beat George Bush.

IF the last few years have taught us anything, it is that the Democratic party must not back down on our principles, because when we do, the Republicans always win. If we nominate a candidate with a record of voting for just about everything that George Bush has asked for, then we give the voters no reason to vote for us - and we will lose in November.

And so I ask you this one favor on behalf of our country. Before you make your final choice, check out your candidate's voting record on:

The Iraq war resolution
The Patriot Act
The Medicare hijacking
The so-called No Child Left Behind Act
Each of George Bush's Tax Breaks for the wealthy

Then ask yourself truthfully if your candidate's record really reflects your values and the values of the Democratic party. Because if it doesn't, then he offers no reason for the American people to stand with us - and without that, we cannot win.

Ask those questions and I think that you'll find what I did - that the only choice for Democrats is Howard Dean - the man who has always stood up for us.

When Americans come to know Howard Dean as a courageous, compassionate doctor with a record of fiscal responsibility and personal dedication unlike anything else in American politics - they will know what Democrats really stand for and we will win.

Thank you.