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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 22, 2003


Lessig praises Dean

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, July 22, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Lawrence Lessig has a coda to last week's guest-blogging by Dean, that really inspires:

The appearance by Governor Dean here has created lots of excitement, some stir, and a bit of anger.
I invited Dean in particular because so much of the success of his campaign has come from those who spend time on the Internet, and I suggested that the mix who spent time at my blog had a valuable set of insights that might be useful to understanding the issues that rage on these pages.

But as I’ve said before, these issues are not the central issues of a presidential campaign (yet, anyway).
But whether it is here or elsewhere, every serious candidate should spend time in just such an open, egalitarian place. Everyone now recognizes that the leading Democratic candidate is the leading candidate in part because of how his message spreads in places like this. They should all find places where they can do the same — unprotected by handlers, exposed to many with strong and deep knowledge of a subject, and open to fair criticism. Let there be one week on a blog for every five choreographed “town halls”, and we’ll begin to see something interesting.

Neutrality aside, though, Governor Dean has earned a special respect. Of course there are issues on which I would disagree with anyone. But I have been struck in reading these posts, and the passion they inspired. They revive a feeling I had as a kid — that ideas could matter, and that there could be people who would make them matter.

read the whole thing, it's eloquent and (I firmly believe) prophetic. I was hard on Dean at the outset myself, because I fundamentally misunderstood the purpose of Dean's blogging on Lessig's forum. A lot of the anger that Lessig alluded to resulted from the same wellspring, a kind of disappointment that stemmed from the basic mistake of exxpecting Dean to put cart before horse. Dean came to Lessig to blog so he could experience the passion and anger and ideas about what it means to "free culture". It was our task to educate Dean, by his invitation, and I hope that we succeeded in the end.

It is still my ambition to see a Slashdot interview of Dean. It's like a fervent dream. And I think that the Lessig blog event was critical to laying the foundation for Dean to be able to do that someday, with real substance. And that's the true measure of the success of the Lessig endeavour.

note the blog category to which Lessig assigned this post.


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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.