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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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Thursday, May 15, 2003


Dean Defense Forces: The Divisive Leadership Council

posted by Matt Singer at Thursday, May 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
(Key updates at bottom)

It is critical that you all sign up for the Dean Defense Forces by following the title of this post. Typically, I won't be posting DDF material to this blog, but this situation is simply too important. The DLC has come out swinging at Dean and we need to respond. Here's the situation, some proposed actions, and some possible talking points:

David von Drehle writing in the Washington Post offers up the following:

More than 50 centrist Democrats, including Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, met here yesterday to plot strategy for the "New Democrat" movement. To help get the ball rolling they read a memo by Al From and Bruce Reed, the chairman and president of the Democratic Leadership Council.

The memo dismissed Dean as an elitist liberal from the "McGovern-Mondale wing" of the party -- "the wing that lost 49 states in two elections, and transformed Democrats from a strong national party into a much weaker regional one."


"We are increasingly confident that President Bush can be beaten next year, but Dean is not the man to do it," Reed and From wrote. "Most Democrats
aren't elitists who think they know better than everyone else."

So how do we respond?

Well, first, provide the Politics folks at the Washington Post with some feedback at . What's wrong with the story? Well,
they only ignored the fact that the most successful DLCer in history (Clinton, not From or Reed) thinks that Dean has the right stuff (From the

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is described as very liberal by many following the presidential race, Clinton said, "but look at what he did as
governor of Vermont."

Clinton described Dean's accomplishments with health care in his home state and his proposal to promote a national health care plan with a modest price
tag as "New Democrat" positions. He was referring to the moniker the Democratic Leadership Council puts on Democrats who can blend moderate ideas
that appeal to swing voters with traditional Democratic themes.

In this case, the entire lede was deeply flawed, as it claimed that the New Democrats dislike Dean. Clinton is THE New Democrat and he speaks highly of

Second, write letters to the editor at Include your home address and day and night phone numbers.

Talking Points (Pick and Choose):

  1. Clinton, THE New Democrat, has recognized that Dean is a New Democrat. From and Reed have slipped from "New Democrat" status to "Conservative
    Democrat" status, scared of new ideas. In addition, Dean has been endorsed by DLCers, like Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and leading centrists, like Sen. Jim Jeffords.
  2. The attacks against Dean are nothing more than hollow rhetoric from career political insiders who have run out of new ideas and who forgot how
    Clinton got elected.
  3. Many of Dean's supporters are the Newest Democrats, converts to the party who previously felt ignored, uninspired, and unmotivated.
  4. Dean has signed up 370 MeetUp members in both Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA; 260 in Raleigh-Durham; 200 in Phoenix; and thousands more across the South,
    Southwest, and West. These are regular people. The DLC myth that Dean is an elite is wrong. Dean is connecting with Americans across the country.
  5. Dean's pragmatic health care plan, balanced budget proposals, and support of federalism all prove that he is a third-way Democrat, not an "elitist
    liberal" from the "McGovern-Mondale wing" of the party.
  6. Dean has made it a hallmark of his campaign to fight divisiveness. While von Drehle's headline claims that the "D" in DLC doesn't stand for Dean, it is not entirely clear that it doesn't stand for Divisiveness. If From and Reed can't grow up, maybe they should go home.

Next, write a letter to the DLC letting them know what you think of their jumping into the primary.

Finally, write Jim Jeffords and ask him to defend Howard Dean's third-way policies. The New Democrats like to point to Jeffords as a good example of a moderate and Jeffords endorsed Dean. Thank Jeffords for his endorsement and urge him to give the DLC a polite reminder that Dean is not the "elite liberal" they'd like to claim. You can do this here.

Finally, join the Dean Defense Forces so that you can get regular updates by e-mail any time the Good Doctor needs our help:

Click to subscribe to deandefenseforces

Update - Contact Numbers for the DLC (Courtesy Adam in MA):

DLC: 202-546-0007
PPI: 202-547-0001

The PPI is the Progressive Policy Institute, the policy wing of the DLC.
Still More
The campaign has a joint letter its going to use to respond to From and Reed's memo. Go sign it. And the official blog has some responses up. Go read them and repeat the mantra in letters to the DLC and any media outlet that reports the DLC's stance: "It's the DLC -- not Howard Dean -- that is Out of Touch with America."


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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.