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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, January 08, 2004


Define The Game

posted by Dana at Thursday, January 08, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
I've got a friend who is something like John Kerry.

He's obsessed about his competitor. He wants to know exactly what they're up to. I think he wants to copy them.

But you don't win that way, I told him. You win by expressing your own vision, consistently. As my friend Rob Frankel says, "a big time brand defines himself as the only logical choice."

The final push toward the first primary is like the PC market at the height of Comdex. Everyone is screaming so loud you can't hear anyone. So it's the guy who is most outrageous, who is most memorable, who stands out, that gets talked about.

In the business where I work, gerbils are fired out of cannon. In the politics business, we have "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show."

The difference between the ads is that didn't really hurt any gerbils. My point is, anyone remember Outpost.Com?

What's being lost in the charge-and-countercharge, the constant "gotcha," is what Bush Sr. called "the vision thing."

The great news about Howard Dean is, we have it. Here it is. And here. And here. And here.

"We shall be as one. We must delight in each other, make other’s conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always living before our eyes our Commission and Community in our work.”

This is what a Big Time Brand does. A Big Time Brand defines itself as the only logical choice. It doesn't react. It acts.

The solution to the drip-drip-drip in the polls is in our hands. It's before our eyes. It's in our history. And it's in the words, not just of Howard Dean, but of John Winthrop, born on a January 12, 416 years ago.

Dean quoted Winthrop in his announcement speech. I teared up when I read it again just now. So did you, maybe. And you probably cried because you realized how far George Bush and his cronies have wandered from this conservative churchman's dream.

And that's the vision. We're going to outflank Bush on the right. We're going to eat his cheese. We're going to blow him away, by identifying with our founders, going back to the very beginning, before this Republic was even founded.

Can Dick Gephardt do that? Will John Kerry? General Clark? No, they're all fine gentlemen, but they're programmatic, micro-managers. They're not Big Time Brands, the kinds of Inspiring Leaders who can grab history by the throat and shove it in a new direction with the strength of their vision.

Howard Dean is such a leader. That's why we're following him.

All we need to do now is tell the people.


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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.