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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 16, 2003


Phase Two: Outreach

posted by annatopia at Wednesday, July 16, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I don't know how to say this delicately so I'm just going to say it. Phase one of the campaign is over, and it's time to refocus and move on to phase two. First, to all our readers and all the pro-Dean communities out there in blogtopia (ysctt!), thank you for being a part of this campaign's success. You have helped accomplish the goal for phase one, which was to make Howard Dean a viable candidate. Now that we've met that goal, where do we go from here?

I've been thinking about this for several weeks. After the Salon interview, my thoughts began to crystallise. I realised that this blog - like many others - was fixing to experience some growing pains. As Howard's profile rises, so does our's. And with that comes new challenges and opportunities. It's time to face them head-on.

So let's talk about phase two. See, we've already stolen the underpants (ten Dean Nation points if you get that reference - heh), so how do we reach phase three, which is electing Dean? I've got a few ideas swirling around in my cranium, and I'd like to solicit some feedback.

First, I see outreach efforts as being a major part of phase two. We need to go beyond blogtopia and out into the real world. What I'm talking about is using our collective brain power and energy and focusing on reaching out to non-white (cause let's be honest here, we are a mighty white campaign) communities both on and offline. I know that many of you folks - like me - are actively involved in your local meetup groups, and that's a start. But we can do better. We -must- do better.

We must reach out to online communities of color, and we must reach out to those offline constituencies who aren't plugged in to the online Dean machine. This is going to take real legwork. It's going to take us getting out from behind the keyboards and out on the streets. It's going to take coordination and effort and encouragement from Burlington. In case you didn't notice, Burlington has already begun phase two. Dean's appearance at the La Raza conference this week is an example, as was his appearance at the NAACP conference in Florida.

This outreach effort consists of more than reaching out to communities of color. It also includes reaching out to those inside the Beltway who are beginning to realise that Dean's been right all along. Like it or not, this is where the power structure rests and regardless of what we accomplish with this campaign, that is not going to change. Granted, we are certainly going to shake it up, but that's where the seat of power is and always will be. It is important for us (and Burlington) to begin this process as soon as possible.

And finally, like I mentioned yesterday, it's time to make friends with the press. I think we've done a really good job of changing their attitudes and assumptions about the Dean campaign. Months ago all we read were dismissive articles that totally missed the point, and now we are beginning to see these same institutions begin to "get it". From Chris Matthews to Slate, from TNR to Pat Buchanan - everyone is finally beginning to give DFA some serious credit for changing the way money is raised and campaigns are conducted. They are also finally giving us credit for sticking to our guns and having a consistent message (which is being validated on a daily basis). This change in punditry has come - like most change - from the bottom up. It started here and continued with the formation of DDF. And while we've done a great job of hammering home our points (perhaps Gary Trudeau should illustrate -us- as a hammer!), we also must give credit where credit is due when they finally begin to come around. And not only must we give credit, we must -encourage- this positive shift.

So, we have reaching out beyond the blogs, building bridges to communities of color, and making friends with the press and the Beltway insiders. I see all those things as major components of phase two. If we can execute these ideas properly and with conviction, we will go into the primaries knowing our candidate isn't going to get "Gored" and we will go into the primaries with solid support in all communities. That's how we're going to take our country back.

So, I'm going to make a pledge to the Dean Nation community. I'm going to try and follow these outreach stories for you, and I'll do my best to link to resources that will help us build those bridges. And to all the press people reading this (we know you're out there), I promise that I won't bag you out unless you're completely off the mark (which should make most of you safe, unless you work for FAUX "news"), and even then I will encourage you to change your mind.

So team, remember our long term goal, but concentrate on working hard on these outreach efforts. If you're doing specific outreach work in your community, please leave a comment so the rest of us can learn from your experiences.


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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.