Monday, October 06, 2003
Editorial: A tale of two very different candidates http://www.madison.com/captimes/opinion/editorial/58147.php
Two candidates for president have chosen opposite ends of this weekend to bring their very different campaigns to Wisconsin. In so doing they have provided voters with precisely the sort of contrast that makes politics interesting and meaningful.
The first candidate to visit was President George W. Bush, who swept into Milwaukee on Friday for a $2,000-a-plate fund-raiser that his aides hope will collect another $800,000 for a re-election campaign.
The money will be added to the more than $84 million the campaign has already raised from special interest groups and givers who have benefited from tax cuts for the wealthy, free-trade policies that help Wall Street while harming Main Street, and farm policies that favor corporate agribusiness over working farmers.
The president's behind-closed-doors meeting with people who can afford to pay $2,000 apiece to whisper their latest requests in his ear will allow him to avoid contact with the mess he has created in Wisconsin, where the administration's economic policies devastated this state's manufacturing base, undermined the farm economy and reduced access to health care benefits for working families.
So, from the Bush campaign, it's insider politics as usual.
From the campaign of the other contender to visit Wisconsin this weekend comes a dramatically different signal.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who many now see as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, will arrive in Madison this afternoon for a rally at 4 outside the Kohl Center.
The Dean rally is free and open to the public, and the candidate's backers are encouraging those who attend to bring donations of a canned good, nonperishable food or personal care item for the families of UFCW Local 538 members who have been on strike at the Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson County since Feb. 28.
The contrasts between the Bush and the Dean campaigns could not be more stark:
Bush came to Wisconsin to collect money from corporate interests.
Dean comes to Wisconsin to help residents of this state who have been victimized by corporate interests.
Bush put a $2,000 price tag on access.
Dean's "price tag" is a can of food for a striking worker.
Bush came into contact with an elite few Wisconsinites who will tell him what he wants to hear.
Dean will be seen by thousands and, if pattern holds, he will interact with all comers - those who are already enthusiastic supporters, those who are still deciding whom to back and even those who disagree.
There is a long time between now and November 2004, when the voters of Wisconsin will play a critical role in choosing the next president of the United States.
There are no guarantees that they will be choosing between George W. Bush and Howard Dean.
But if it comes down to a Bush-Dean contest, all evidence is that voters will be offered an opportunity to make a genuine choice not just between two different candidates of two different parties.
The choice will be between two different visions of America's future: one of elites gathering behind closed doors to decide what they will do next to working families in places like Wisconsin, the other of citizens gathering out in the open to help those working families.
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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.