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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, November 05, 2003


Excerpt from Dean's Remarks today

posted by Amanda at Wednesday, November 05, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
For those who aren't meetup hosts so you didn't get this from DFA, I'm posting this whole thing. This is a rush transcript of part of Dean's remarks as he began his Cooper Union speech (the full prepared text is available here and on demand video is available here.)


“We're at a space today that's rich in our nation’s history, a place where citizens have gathered for more than a century to debate the great issues of the day. From this platform and from this very podium, Abraham Lincoln spoke nearly 150 years ago as a presidential candidate, and when Lincoln came here, he did not shy away from talking about the greatest threat that our Republic faced at that time – which is the terrible institution of human slavery. I will not shy away today either.

“The issue of the Confederate flag has become an issue in this presidential race. Let me make this clear. I believe that we have one flag in this country, the flag of the United States of America. I believe that the flag of the Confederate States of America is a painful symbol and reminder of racial injustice and slavery, which Lincoln denounced from here over 150 years ago. And I do not condone the use of the flag of the Confederate States of America. I do believe that this country needs to engage in a serious discussion about race and that everyone must participate in that discussion.

“I started this discussion in a clumsy way. This discussion will be painful, and I regret the pain that I may have caused either to African American or southern white voters in the beginning of this discussion. But we need to have this discussion in an honest, open way.

“In 1968 the Republican party embarked on a strategy to divide white people from black people in the South just as they were divided when Abraham Lincoln stood at this podium 150 years ago. That is intolerable. Ending that is what this campaign is all about.

“I am determined to find a way to bring white Americans and black Americans – as Dr. King said – to the same table of common brotherhood. As I said, we have started in a difficult way, but there is no way to escape the pain of this discussion. To think that racism was banished from the face of this country – even after the success of the civil rights movement – is wrong.

“Today in America, you have a better chance of being called back for a job interview if you’re white with a criminal record than you do if you’re black with a clean record – never having been arrested or convicted. Institutional racism exists in this country, not because institutions are run by bigots or racists, but because of our unconscious bias towards hiring people just like ourselves. I am determined that we will not leave anyone behind in this discussion no matter what their color or where they live. I am determined we will overcome this.

“I understand Senator Edwards’ concern last night that we not have people from the north telling people from the south how to run their states. But we all need to understand that we are in this together and that it will be a difficult and painful discussion, and feelings will be hurt. And what we must do is that people of goodwill must stay at the table.

“If we are ever to vanquish the scourge of racism left over from four hundred years of slavery and Jim Crow – only 40 or 50 years ago [did] the civil rights movement [begin] to see relief from that – we can't think it is over. We must have the dialogue Bill Clinton promised us. We must have that dialogue and we must continue that dialogue. And we must all be at the table.

“Many of the people in the African American community have supported what I said in the past few days, because they understand what this is about. Some have not. So, I say to those [people], I deeply regret the pain I have caused. Many of our white supporters have understood, but to those who do not, I regret the pain that I have caused. I will tell you, there is no easy way to do this. There will be pain as we discuss it. We must face it together… hand in hand… as Dr. King and Abraham Lincoln asked us to do.

“Because this is about taking back our country and when white people and brown people and black people vote together in this country, that’s when we get social justice in 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.