Howard Dean in 2003 announcing his entry into the presidential race. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

We caught up with Dean, the founder of the left-leaning, grassroots political action committee Democracy for America, on Dec. 8 during a gathering of the Yale World Fellows in Washington, D.C.

When it comes to innovation in the United States, Dean is optimistic — a predictable outlook for a supporter of the current administration, especially with the Iowa caucuses around the corner for the GOP presidential contenders.

“I think the speed of innovation is getting faster not slower, at least in tech,” said Dean, going on to refer to the growth of solar and wind power in the United States. “It’s still a tiny percentage of our power, but it’s the real deal.”

“I think there’s plenty of innovation still going on. ... The entrepreneurial spirit in America is very much alive especially among young people,” said Dean. “I know a ton of kids who got a couple of jobs, lost them in succession, then started their own Internet companies. And most of them failed. And they make a little money for a while, they learn a lot, and then they turn around and do something else. That’s a very important process. The failure of this country is in the political class, the financial class and the media,” said Dean, “but there’s still enormous dynamism in America, and I absolutely believe that dynamism is going to overcome everything else.”

“We have a long road ahead of us, as a species, but the progress has also been accelerating,” Dean continued. “What excites me is a generation that’s even more fearless than we were. But willing to set aside the kinds of faults that we had.”

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