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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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Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Austin is Dean Country

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, June 10, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Gabriel continues to update his post on the Austin rally - see below and stay tuned. But I just want to reflect on what Austin means. The symbolism of Austin is beyond merely being Bush's backyard - Austin is the seat of power, and the epicenter of Bush's political power (even though the town itself is liberal). All of Bush's political roots trace through this nerve center - which Dean completely and utterly dominated on Monday night. This is the event that, in histories about the 2004 election yet to be written, will be identified as a proverbial turning point.

The Austin rally has drawn a lot of attention within the Blogsphere - for example, Carl with a K's analysis of just what the number 3,200 really means:

In 1999-2000 when I began work on Senator John McCain's campaign... getting people to show up for an impromptu political rally outside of New Hampshire was near impossible... unthinkable even.

Things slowly changed as the campaign progressed and AFTER New Hampshire it was not uncommon in South Carolina for the campaign to be greeted by screaming McCainiacs numbering in the 1500-2000 range. That's an important point to understand. McCain's momentum flowed from state to state as he did better. There is no way we could have flown to Nashville (Gore's hometown) and been welcomed by 3,000 supporters even if it had been the day after New Hampshire at the height of his popularity.

It becomes more clear each day that this campaign is different from any other insurgent candidacy of the past. Doctor Dean has a national support network ready at any time to turn out for him and get the job done. That's something the Gary Hart's and John McCain's of this world were never able to harness let alone 6 months before a vote was taken.

Keep in mind that the campaign itself expected a turnout of 300 people (which would have been nothing to sneeze at). Byron at The Burnt Orange Report also weighs in with a detailed first-person account:

Finally, a little after 9 PM, Howard Dean arrived to wild applause, and he immediately lunged at the people at one side of the stage to shake their hands. State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) welcomed Howard Dean to east Austin and his district; just elected last November, he spoke about how his first legislative session was one of the worst ever for Texas: how gay rights were attacked, abortion rights were attacked, and thousands of children were knocked off of health insurance coverage. Rodriguez said that he did everything he could to stop Republicans--including going to Ardmore, Oklahoma, for a week with 50 other House Democrats; at that remark, he received wild applause. Finally, Rodriguez introduced Howard Dean by giving him his endorsement (I believe the first endorsement of a state representative in Texas for Dean).
Finally, Glen Maxey took the microphone and reminded people to give money and sign the ballot petition and pledge card. Dean, however, instead of walking off the stage, almost dove into the crowd in front of the stage and started shaking hands. He did that for about five to ten minutes until someone told him that he needed to stop and talk to the television cameras so that he'd get on the 10 PM news. I got home just around 10 PM and Dean got decent coverage on the major networks.
Dean has lots of support in Austin, and throughout the state of Texas. Democrats in Texas got swept last November, and many of the candidates on the Texas Democratic ticket worked to play up their conservative or pro-Bush credentials in order to win the support of independents, moderates, and conservatives. What happened? The undecideds voted for the real Republican, and lots of Democrats didn't bother to vote. Many of us in this state are looking for a Democrat to support for President that will unabashedly, unashamedly support the principles of our party. We see that candidate in Howard Dean.

That 3200 was just the tip of a vast iceberg in Texas. But what does it all mean? what does it all really mean? as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. See for yourself.


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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.