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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, January 07, 2004


The Real Enemy

posted by Dana at Wednesday, January 07, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Bill Bradley touched on it in his “Why I Joined” e-mail.

It is the belief that good can triumph over bad, that principle can defeat expediency, that there's honor in working for a better world, that it's not naive to appeal to the better sides of our nature, and that it's all right to believe in the people, in your neighbor, in humankind.

The real enemy is cynicism.

When journalists have told Gov. Dean recently, “you’re running against Nixon,” and he talked about race, they were both cutting a glancing blow against this real enemy.

The Governor’s life story should be familiar to anyone of “a certain age.” He gave up on politics after Nixon, deciding he could only change lives one at a time. He found the way in medicine, and in taking that path, he healed himself.

Governor Dean came back to public life very slowly. A simple project, the bike path. A little volunteer work, stuffing envelopes. A part-time legislative position, a part-time post as Lieutenant Governor. And a full-time life, with a wife, a family, and career that were fulfilling to him.

Millions more have done the same thing to beat the cynicism tearing at our souls. Joe Trippi went to Silicon Valley. I went into technology journalism. Millions more found faith in God.

Faith is a positive good, but history shows it can be used to evil ends. Osama Bin Laden, the Spanish Inquisition, they both demanded blind faith in leaders who insisted they were inspired by God.

Skepticism is the only proper American stance. They’re not all crooks. Howard Dean is no crook. Bill Bradley is no crook. But we all have a right, a duty, to watch them closely. Some of them may be crooks, some may turn into crooks. When they do we turn them out. The great leaders welcome that heat. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

It is when we fall into cynicism that we can be manipulated. We have had a generation of cynicism, and this Administration is the height of cynicism. Not just in what they’re doing, but in how they intend to manipulate us so they can keep doing it.

That’s what all this “gotcha” stuff about Howard Dean is really all about. He’s no better than they are. There’s no difference. Stay cynical, so we can keep manipulating you.

But we have a duty, as Americans, not to fall for that. We have a duty, as Americans, to believe in ourselves. Only then do we really have the power the Constitution gave us, those three words, larger than all the rest, prouder. We The People.

It is cynicism that lets us be led blindly. It is cynicism we are fighting against. We need to heal ourselves of a generation of cynicism, right here, right now. That’s the message we need to take to our neighbors, a healthy skepticism instead of cynicism or blind faith. An American attitude. Because when we exhibit that attitude, in both our private and public lives, we truly are the hope of the world. When we fail to we become its terror.


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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.