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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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Thursday, September 04, 2003


Dean for America

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, September 04, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
There's a great article in Common Dreams today that I think makes the case for Dean in a unique way. Well, unique to the punditsphere, but certainly something that all of us who have been drawn to this candidacy will immediately recognize:

He’s smart. He’s clear. Neither qualities can be taken for granted when discussing the American presidency. His logic is crisp. He uses deductive reasoning. He speaks like a humane scientist. His positions seem to evolve from assimilating and interpreting facts. He does not seem to mold or withhold facts in order to promote a position in which he has an ego or monetary investment. He seems to take the mission statement of the Constitution to heart and applies an impassioned contemporary reason to it. He can be engaged. You get the feeling that if one frames a sensible argument he would integrate that into his decisions. His authority seems available to collaboration.

He's not a demagogue or religious fanatic. He sees human rights as a criterion for decision-making. He believes in separation of church and state. He seems to approach and treat the citizenry as if they are adults. He also seems to have galvanized a retiring sector of the population – a group that perhaps cynically or exhaustedly said, “what’s the point?” and consequently sat back. They’re now leaning forward to hear and support the observations and assertions of a thinking leader.

Remember why all those cynical voters got to be so jaded in the first place - because of the full-scale war being waged on disagreement by the right. It started during Clinton's presidency, as a reaction and a counter-culture. But now with conservatives in control of the government, it has run even more rampant. What we have is a culture of hatred in our politics, one that forces people to "choose sides" and label the other side as evil incarnate.

Dean, meanwhile, is for America. Not for Democrats or Republicans, but for Americans. It's a theme that he has pounded again and again on the trail, but has barely even registered on the national media scene. The media wants to see Dean on the attack, wants to film the red meat being devoured by the insatiable and "angry" base.

But the deeper theme here is about unity. It's what we really need in this country. We need to become one country again, united in identity even if we may disagree about minor policy.

It all comes back to President Lincoln and his first inaugural address:

Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Dean's campaign reminds us of those better angels. And of the importance of those bonds of affection. And Dean's message breaks the artificial divisions that have been imposed upon the American body politic. And frees us to look at America as a unified whole rather than a red-vs-blue battleground.

Dean for America.


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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.