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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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Wednesday, June 25, 2003


Setting the agenda, Dean won't cede an inch to the GOP

posted by annatopia at Wednesday, June 25, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Getting back to the subject of language which I addressed in my earlier post, I'd like to direct everyone to this article from the American Prospect. For the past two years, we've been told that we're unpatriotic because we've questioned the wisdom behind the Iraq intervention or the wisdom behind tax cuts for the wealthy. We've been (in some cases) spat upon, berated, shouted down, and branded as traitors or communists by the GOP Fedayeen. For too long, many of us have walked in fear, afraid to stand up and make our case against the rabid nationalism that permeates the GOP leadership. The GOP has shamelessly co-opted patriotism, our flag, and religion to further their radical agenda. Folks, it's time to remove the star-spangled blinders.

Howard Dean has been slowly but surely working his way towards reclaiming patriotism and morality for the Democratic Party. Take - for example - his speech and actions at the Wisconsin Democratic convention. (I actually wrote up a huge post for my personal blog that covered this, and of course my box crashed before I saved it - grrr! But it's more relevant than ever so here goes) By all accounts, Dean gave a rousing speech that ended with him him waving a giant American flag. This took place on the weekend we celebrate Flag Day in the state where the holiday originated. Coincidence? I'm sure Dean's flag-waving was fueled by passion, and the symbolism of his action and the location meshed perfectly.

Over at the official blog, many people have posted personal accounts of the singing of the Star Spangled Banner before the Declaration Celebration began on Monday. This is summed up in the Prospect article:

During the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," before Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) spoke, the young singer's solo was joined by an at-first quiet harmony about halfway through the song. Voice then added onto voice until much of the crowd was singing with her, softly but intently. At "the land of the free," a small wave of applause and cheers rippled across the crowd. After "home of the brave," loud applause and enthusiastic shouts burst out, as if those clapping and yelling could now feel in the words of that most familiar of songs new meaning. It wasn't just their national anthem; it was their personal anthem, too, telling them, as Dean often urges, to "stand up and fight."

Then came the GAR speech. Dean is clearly not going to cede patriotism to the GOP. Take these excerpts, where Dean draws a line in the sand and firmly states that the GOP isn't the only patriotic party in America.

"The Americans I have met love their country. They believe deeply in its promise, our values and our principles. But they know something is wrong and they want to take action." Message: Republicans aren't the only people who love America.

"The tax cuts that are the radicals’ weapon are not about tax cuts for working people. They are not even about tax cuts for millionaires. Instead, the tax cuts are designed to destroy Social Security, Medicare, our public schools and our public services through starvation and privatization." Message: the GOP pretends to care about middle America (ooo shades of the so-called "compassionate conservatism"), but it's actions contradict this. The Democrats will continue to protect the social programs which help middle and lower class Americans.

"An America where it is not enough for me to want health care for my family – but the obligation, and responsibility of every one of us as American citizens to insure that each one of us has health care for our families." Message: It takes a villiage. The GOP thinks it takes a corporation.

Notice that he uses the words "duty" and "responsibility" multiple times. For too long, the GOP has played the "responsibility" card, yet their actions demonstrate that they don't understand the meaning of those words.

"The idea of America using its power solely for its own ends is not consistent with the idealistic moral force the world has known for over two centuries. We must rejoin the world community. America is far stronger as the moral and military leader of the world than we will ever be by relying solely on military power." Message: the GOP isn't providing moral leadership. The Democrats will. Dean plays the morality card quite well here. He reclaims the mantle of morality for all of us who are concerned with more than what happens in our own back yard. Dean sends a message that he'll provide moral leadership by inspiring other countries to strive for greatness, and he sends a message that he'll lead by example rather than intimidation and aggression.

Many people are scared to face down the GOP because they employ tactics of intimidation, and because the GOP has successfully laid a claim to patriotism. Howard Dean (and his supporters) is not scared to confront the GOP and reclaim the high moral ground. We know we're good, concerned, patriotic Americans. We also know that moral clarity is not reserved for the radicals in the White House. What, after all, could be more moral than wanting a brighter, more secure future for our children to inherit? What could be more patriotic than wanting to see America as a beacon of hope, rather than a threat? If you're looking for a candidate who's willing to stand up for ALL Americans - rather than the chosen few - Howard Dean is your man. If you're looking for a candidate who isn't scared to call the GOP exactly what it is, then Howard Dean is your man. And most of all, if you are looking for a candidate who won't let the GOP define the issues, then Howard Dean is your man.

We need a Democratic candidate who's willing to reclaim the rhetorical ground we've lost during the last two election cycles. Nobody will do a better job of staking that claim than 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.