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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, July 15, 2003


Dean and Independent voters

posted by annatopia at Tuesday, July 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The Committee for Unified Independent Party submitted a questionaire to all the candidates, and Dean's responses have been turned in and published (warning, the above link is a pdf). I've always said that this campaign is capable of appealing to voters of all persuasions, and I think the Governor's answers on this survey reinforce that. Here are some snippets, although I suggest you read the survey in it's entirety:

The trend in the direction of political independence has continued unabated during the last ten years. A recent CNN/USA Today poll shows the electorate in a three-way split, with independents comprising a plurality at 35%. To what do you attribute this growing dis-alignment from the major parties? I believe that both parties are guilty of not giving people a reason to vote. It’s certainly a problem within the Democratic Party. We’ve become so afraid to stand up for what we believe that the public has almost no idea what our principles are. The Republican Party has moved further and further to the right, and the Democratic Party has followed them, to the point where Democrats look like Republicans, and Republicans talk like “moderates” but govern like right-wing extremists. I think that voters want candidates to be clear about who they are and what they believe, and that’s exactly what my campaign is all about. Voters may not always agree with me on every position, but they will always know where I stand.

A consistent concern of independent voters is the extent to which the electoral, governmental and policymaking processes have been infected with partisanship. The Florida recount process revealed extreme partisanship on both sides – among election officials and within the court system. But Florida was not an anomaly. Among other examples of partisanship, ballot access laws favor incumbents over insurgents, and major party candidates over independents; judges have strong ties to party machines; and many legislative bodies reinforce partisan allegiance over
public service.
a) In your view, what is the role of partisanship in American politics?

I don’t think that anyone should govern based on ideology -- the Bush Administration’s ideological narrowness has set this country down a terrible path. Now, I do believe in having a strong governing philosophy, but that need not equal ideology or partisanship. Our political system should always involve a debate over ideas and philosophy -- that debate is what makes our democracy thrive.
b) Do you believe that partisanship contributes to the negative aspects of our political culture?
Partisanship becomes a detriment when adhering to a certain ideology is more important than making the best decisions for the American people. That said, it is important that the parties stand for something and give voters a choice between competing ideas.
c) How would you characterize the state of our political culture?
The state of our political culture is dismal right now. We have one party that runs every branch of government and believes that it can get away with just about anything, and another party that’s too afraid of the President’s approval ratings to stand up and fight.

update Todd Heywood and Scott Gamel sent me a note to remind me that Independents For Dean is online and working towards building bridges to that huge chunk of the electorate. Keep up the great work, guys, and sorry I missed linking that originally.


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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.