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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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Friday, July 04, 2003


reclaiming liberty from the Liberals

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, July 04, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Steven Den Beste has another essay I can agree with - about the absurdity of the EU's proposed regulations to force individual companies, not public agencies, to guarantee the "safety" of chemicals in industry.

The deeper problem is the same thing that afflicts the Right as well as the Left - taking your view too far on ideology rather than looking for a pragmatic synthesis (and willing to accept compromise). The necessary and counterbalancing principles that can safeguard our society from such dangerous folly are principled pragmatism and perfection is the enemy of the good, respectively.

I'm not a true conservative, so I'll leave the redefinition of conservatism to my equally principled and pragmatic friend Tacitus, who occupies the sole position in his niche as far as I am aware in the Blogsphere.

But I do identify myself as a liberal, and so it's reclaiming the word from the idealouges that I turn my attention towards. By liberal, I mean that I want liberty - to practice my faith, to pursue happiness, to make personal decisions and raise my family. I am liberal because to me liberty means removing obstacles to these pursuits and freedoms. And throughout history, the major barrier to the common man achieving them has been the interests of the Uncommon man - the powerful, the elite, the upper class, all those who have sought to concentrate economic, social, and political power in the ranks of the few.

The worst terrorists can do is kill me. I will live free and die free. But the worst that the Powers can do is make me live without freedom - because their goal is to bend my existence towards supporting theirs. Such is the foundation of their power. I prefer to live free or die.

To understand just how essential the struggle against these Powers has been, and how dearly bought our freedoms are, I strongly recommend Howard Zinn's book, A People's History of the United States. The foundations of American freedom were laid in 1776 on today's date, but they were not achieved until much later for blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, poor laborers... The spirit of America is the struggle to put the written words of the Declaration of Independence into actual tangible reality for all those without the money or the influence to have mattered.

But Howard Zinn's history book is not a paean to socialism! It is simply a reminder using historical facts of what being Progressive means, of the goal of freedom and the details of teh struggle of the journey towards that goal.

For many Liberals today, however, that journey is equated with the goal. There is no recognition that the journey and the goal of the Progressives throughout history were to redress a balance, not serve as a complete system of philosophies on their own. The European Union is in many ways the ultimate manifestation of embracing the mechanisms of the Progressive movement while having completely lost sight of their rationale.

I mourn what Europe will become if it continues. And I know that there are many Liberals in America who see themselves as the intellectual heirs to the Progressive movement, but who do not realize the simple truth that by following the Liberal ideology they risk everything that the Progressives fought for. If the economy is destroyed as business moves away, there will be more poor and fewer rich - and the yoke of class tyranny will rise. If we abandon our sovereignity to higher and higher supra-national entities whose decisions are made in remote assemblies, then we again shackle ourselves to government without representation.

It's why I cannot support Dennis Kucinich - his vision of where America should be is fixed with Europe as an ideal. That way lies the destruction of our society. It is why I support Howard Dean, who has demonstrated the ability to find balance between principle and pragmatism. Dean is not a Liberal but he is a better guardian of Progressive ideals than any self-labeled Liberal candidate. The irony of his being labeled "unelectable" because of his supposed extreme liberalness is ironic - and even hilarious, as Republicans donate money to Dean thinking that they are torpedoing the Democratic party.

We must avoid the temptation of the extremes. Europe's Liberal implosion will take decades to play out - and we have to act in 2004 to avoid the mirror image process occurring here under extreme Conservative rule. This is why Dean matters. More than just his abiliity to raise funds from the Internet, even more than just his ability build the greatest grassroots suppport than any other candidate in history - it's his ideas that matter. And the process by which he arrives at them.


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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.