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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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Monday, January 26, 2004


The Only Thing We Have To Fear

posted by Dana at Monday, January 26, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
For over a week the Dean campaign has done everything right.

The rallies have been huge. The candidate has been wonderful. He won the debate by going consistently to the opponent's right, in a state that lets independents and Republicans vote in the primary. The press has begun ganging up on the other guy for a change. The polls have been moving. The field organization is first-rate. We have all the late momentum.

But I am also prepared for the possibility we may lose tomorrow, to John Kerry.

Two sets of numbers concern me. First, over half those surveyed think John Kerry can beat Bush. Second, a Newsweek poll actually shows Kerry beating Bush.

Many Democrats would sell their souls to beat Bush. And, in New Hampshire, many may be about to.

Because I have a better chance of beating George W. Bush than John Kerry has. We have seen this movie before. Kerry was Michael Dukakis' Lieutenant-Governor. As a Senator, Kerry has usually been in the minority.

Kerry has spent his entire public life on the defensive, and it shows. He's cagey. He voted for the war, not because he thought it was right, but because he figured he could spin it, as he has. He voted for No Child Left Behind. When Bush has bullied, Kerry has retreated, like a good lieutenant before a superior foe. Then he has told voters that, no, that wasn't a retreat, it was a "strategic withdrawal," a "reconnaissance in force."

Governor Dean, on the other hand, has been a political general. Yes, it was a small state. Yes, most were modest battles. But he won them, even the tough ones. And he made life better.

So Dean's not the trouble. The "I Have A Scream" speech isn't the trouble. The trouble is this whole concept of "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." (Polls show liberals are with us, moderates with the more-liberal Kerry.)

I believe in the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. We can't hope to win, as Democrats, until we're proud to stand as Democrats again. We can't win, as Democrats, until we act like Democrats again, until we stand fast again, until we refuse to retreat again, until we are ready to attack and win again.

John Kerry won't do that. His public career shows no examples of the personal courage he displayed in Vietnam, or in the anti-war movement.

But when you've been beat like a dog long enough, as Democrats have, your courage can fail you.

Franklin Roosevelt was right. What we really have to fear, tomorrow, from our fellow Democrats, is fear itself.


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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.