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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 29, 2003


Democrats: Profiles in spinelessness

posted by Editor at Thursday, May 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Arianna Huffington in an article on writes that the Democratic Party could rally behind the motto "Vote for us -- we kinda, sorta disagree." She writes, "The party leaders are so timid, spineless and lacking in confidence that to compare them to jellyfish would be an insult to invertebrates." Most noteworthy, I thought, in her column was when she observed:

It is precisely this kind of craven vacillation that has made possible the triumph of the fanatics in the White House. Democrats are wringing their hands over the "tactical genius" of Karl Rove, and the "brilliant political stagecraft" of his TV experts who always present the president in the best light. Such is the Democrats' fragility that the mere smoke and mirrors of posing the president in profile at Mount Rushmore, or asking the people standing behind him during a recent speech on the economy to take off their ties so they would look more like average Joes, leave them quaking in their boots.

But the Democratic National Committee's Terry McAuliffe needs to stop worrying about the GOP using footage of Bush's Top Gun landing on the Abraham Lincoln in campaign ads and start worrying about finding a presidential candidate who isn't afraid to take audacious and decisive stands on the party's core issues. If they can't compete on style, they should at least give it a shot on substance.

I think this is the argument that many of us have been making in our support for Gov. Dean all along. As the doctor himself said in response to President Bush's reckless tax cut, "What America needs now is a Democratic Party with the backbone to stand up for fiscal responsibility and against this President's recklessness with the facts, and our future." We know that Gov. Dean is the candidate most prepared to do this.

But Huffington doesn't claim that Democrats need the courage to just say anything, she calls on the party to put forward a strong, Democratic agenda:

After all, the problem isn't that Democrats are on the wrong side of the issues. It's that they are afraid to make an issue of being on the right side -- not to mention smack dab in the middle of the American mainstream.

For example, only one out of four Americans believe the latest round of tax cuts will significantly reduce their taxes, and just 29 percent think the cuts are the best way to help stimulate the economy. Yet Democrats seem congenitally incapable of challenging a president whose entire domestic agenda consists of more and more tax cuts for the wealthy.

The numbers also favor the Democrats on the foreign policy front. According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 57 percent of Americans are opposed to investing the time and money needed to rebuild Iraq. But the Democrats sit idly by, their thumbs otherwise engaged, while the administration's Iraqi tar baby grows stickier by the day.

And on and on it goes: On the environment, Social Security, greater access to affordable healthcare, gun control and abortion, the majority of the American people are with the Democrats.

Again, it seems as if she is unknowingly a Dean supporter! Dean supporters firmly believe "The only way that we're going to beat George Bush is to say what we mean, to stand up for who we are, to lift up a Democratic agenda against the Republican agenda because if you do that, the Democratic agenda wins every time. " (Dean, California Democratic Convention)

Huffington says, "It's time for the Democrats to give up their broken play-it-safe politics and risk offending a few vocal members of a radical minority." We say, "It's time for Howard Dean."


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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.