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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, July 02, 2003


Moving on from MoveOn

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, July 02, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
An article in Tom says that's future may be rough, claiming that Dean and Kucinich's showing in the online primary are a flaw of the organization's susceptibility to the radical left:

What has Washington's liberal-establishment types worried is that the Dean and Kucinich MoveOn supporters seem not to function on the basis of orthodox political criteria. If, as expected, MoveOn holds a run-off to formally endorse a presidential candidate, the winner could rake in some $10 million in new money, which would be doubled by federal matching funds. That's a war chest to contend with by anyone's reckoning -- and to see it deployed on behalf of a candidate whom the Beltway libs are convinced hasn't a prayer of beating Bush has them fretting (negative coat-tails from a Democratic nominee would further erode the already- slim chance the Democrats have of forestalling new House and Senate losses to the GOP next November).

Moreover, there's much concern by Beltway types that if the Democrats nominate a candidate unacceptable to the MoveOn tribe they could bolt the party and support a third alternative to Dubya. A lot of poor and working-class and black and Latino Americans who are key parts of the Democratic base don't live on the Internet, and so there's a middle-to-upper-middle-class tilt to the MoveOn rank and file, as Gephardt discovered to his discomfiture. That's why some worry, like the liberal writer Bruce Shapiro, that MoveOn "will further promote the kinds of fake reformist 'insurgent' campaigns which leave nothing behind -- John Anderson rather than Jesse Jackson."

The half-dozen people who run MoveOn have enormous power as the site's administrators. Although they've said quite frequently -- as their man Exley did on C-Span last weekend -- that their hope is to unite around the eventual Democratic nominee to defeat Bush, what happens if MoveOn's members start demanding accountability and democracy in the running of the organization? A grassroots MoveOn revolt and party bolt against an eventual nominee named, say, Lieberman or Edwards is not out of the question.

I think that the "concern" of the Beltway types is highly opportunistic. The political establishment would love to see Dean's campaign stumble, because it has consistently defied the expectation that a candidate's success can only be vetted by the punditocracy rather than the grassroots. The attempt to lump Dean and Kucinich together under the same tired "electability" label is dishonest.

Compare Dean and Kucinich on the issues. We can see from this handy table drawn up by a Kucinich supporter that Dean's positions are nowhere near as radical as Kucinich's. If anything, Dean has been drawing rhetorical ammunition that rightfully should be targeted at Kucinich, because those doing the firing (*cough* DLC *cough*) see an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.


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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.