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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, April 13, 2003


Taking Back Our Country -- Planting the Seed of Change -- Growing to Victory

posted by Joe at Sunday, April 13, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I was sitting here at HQ, where even in Burlington its a warm and sunny day, thinking about where our campaign is, where we need to go, and wanted to share some thoughts with you.

In January we had a staff of 6 or 7 people, most Americans had never heard of Howard Dean, we had about $150,000 in the little bank across the street (locked in a vault so we couldn't spend it), and had a small but energized group of netroots supporters reflected by activity on this blog and others, and some 432 Dean Meetup Members nationwide.

But we had something else....Govenor Howard Dean, MD -- his authentic voice, and his message that its time to take a stand and take our country back.

This election is about much more than who will win the Democratic Party nomination, or who will take the oath of office as President of the United States in January 2005. We stand at one of those unique moments in our nation's history, when what Americans decide in November of 2004 will determine what kind of country America is for decades to come.

Will we be unilateralist America? Driven by idealogues who play on the fears of the American people, with little or no regard for the fear and diplomatic damage their policies create in the world community? Or will we be a more multi-lateral America with a foreign policy that reflects the values of hope, liberty, and freedom of the American people? A foreign policy that replaces ideology with thought -- speaks the truth to the American people, and takes a principled yet pragmatic approach to working with others in the community of nations. A foreign policy that will use force if we must -- but only if we must.

At home, will we continue down the poll driven path that continues to produce two parties that are becoming so close to each other on so many issues, that it is increasingly difficult to tell the real differences between them? Govenor Dean often speaks about this when he talks about the issue of health care. The Democratic version of the Patients Bill of Rights lets you sue your HMO. The Republican version of the Patient's Bill of Rights does not let you sue your HMO. In the end neither addresses the fact that regardless of which version passes there will still be 42 million Americans with no health care and therefore no health care rights. Many of the Democrats running for the nomination have had years to do something about this problem and have failed to do much of meaning about it. Is it any wonder that it took til they were running for President (and probably some really cool poll numbers) to get them to promise once again to do what they have not done?

Which gets me to Governor Howard Dean, MD. You may not agree with him on every issue, and he will make his share of mistakes during this long campaign (everyone does), but Howard Dean says what needs to be said, challenges what needs to be challenged, stands up forcefully to those that attempt to divide us, and has a vision powered by the simple fact that as Americans we are all in this together. His message reflects the hope and promise of the America we know we are, and the even stronger nation we can be.

Faced with blurred and compromised, shades of gray candidacies, too many Americans are giving up on having a real impact and making a difference -- and each year fewer and fewer show up at the polling place in their neighborhood. How can you make a difference if there isn't much difference in the choices offered? Well Howard Dean is going to offer the American people a choice, and he is going to get people to vote, by giving people a reason to vote.

So how do we do it?

We may never have as much money as the other candidates for President, but money alone will not determine our fate. Make no mistake -- we need to garner contributions from all who support our cause, and have the means to contribute -- and as the net has proven -- every penny counts. As someone put it in the blogosphere "They have deep pockets, we have many pockets."

More than just money, we must build an unparalled grassroots and netroots campaign, the size and power of which, has never been seen before in our nation. In 90 short days we have grown from 432 Dean Meetup members to 15,000 as you read this. We are well aware of venue and other issues -- but there are only 9 meetup days remaining between today and the Iowa Caucuses. As a campaign we are determined to make everyone of those meetings count. Because of our limited resources Dean Meetups have become critical to our ability to build a 50 state organization -- that without the net and without you -- would not have been possible for us to build this early in the process. So please continue to spread the word and get others to join Dean Meetups nationwide. (That link was a first for me!)

We want to use every tool we can to reach people and spread the word so about a week ago we started the Dean Wireless Network. This will allow us to get action alerts and important information to the mobile community -- and create another means for us to mobilize for Dean. Please join the Dean Wireless Network and urge others to join.

I know our blog was an ugly thing of non-beauty -- but we are learning -- and experimenting with every tool we have available to us. So please use the comments section of this post -- to make suggestions as to how we can do better -- or tools you know of that we should put to work to build a stronger netroots/grassroots organization for Howard Dean.

Howard Dean will win the nomination, and go all the way the White House, but only if our campaign to take America back for our people, becomes a campaign of even more people. We must as a campaign reach out even further to find others to join our cause -- give of their energy as you have, contribute time and yes money be it $5 or $500 to our effort. We need to build a netroots and grassroots campaign that spreads the word to every nook and crannie of the worldwide web, and to every city and town, and precinct in our nation.

As Governor Dean has said "the pundits like to talk about the invisible primary, but there is another primary that is only invisible to those who are blind to seeing it." Our goal is to build a netroots and grassroots campaign that is so strong in numbers -- so powerful in collective action that no one will turn a blind eye to it again. And if we do that together -- we will not only win this election -- we will prove that we really do have the power to take our country back.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.