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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, November 07, 2003


for the Dems: Rx for Change

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, November 07, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Max Sawicky has an important post up that reacts to the Confederate Flag flap - and makes a powerful critique[1] of the Democratic Party:

What's at stake is whether we are going to have class politics in the U.S. Cultural conservatism, which in the South can include some type of sentimentality for the Lost Cause, or resentment of what is perceived as excess in the name of civil rights, should not be treated as an enemy ideology. I am not talking about adherence to segregation in public accommodations, denial of the right to vote, or other obvious breaches of democracy that nobody in good faith could endorse.

Coalitions are about reaching understandings through dialogue and/or compromise with people of different views. The Democratic Party needs to be a coalition of working people. It needs to ease up on cultural and social liberalism. I mean fetishes about gun control and tobacco. It needs to stop pretending that Southern whites are more racist than other people. It needs to welcome the "seamless web" Catholics who oppose both abortion and the death penalty. It needs to stop overselling rehabilitation and underselling punishment. It needs to find ways of establishing reasonable environmental regulation other than on the backs of workers. What it endorses as a party is ideally the outcome of a rational debate and compromise on these issues. For some, one or another such compromise could be a 'deal-breaker.' So be it. That's the process we need. The constant and lodestar should be an unwavering commitment to the living standards of working people, and opposition to the corporativist, war-mongering ways of the Republican Party.

Without class politics, the Democratic Party becomes cats-paw of the big donors, a party of well-to-do white liberals lording it over second-class minorities organized by race and ethnicity. The economic policy of such a party boils is neo-liberalism (balanced budgets, free trade, smaller government, and Federal Reserve supremacy in monetary policy), with tokenism and crumbs for the minorities.

(emphasis mine)

At the end of his post, he endorses Dennis Kucinich, but I think that he's fallen prey to the same disease that he so clearly warns us against. Kucinich's supporters are exactly the ones who the other Dem candidates were pandering to in trying to paint Dean as a right-wing racist - it is Kucinich supporters who have all the deal-breakers and litmus tests, and Kucinich's niche appeal is tailored for them.

Dean, however, is the candidate who is knitting together a coalition of principle, not issues and ideologies. And Dean is the personification of Max's sage advice.

[1] This is real advice, not the disingenous "abandon your principles and surrender" kind.


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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.