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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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Sunday, January 25, 2004


Time’s Arrow Points To You

posted by Dana at Sunday, January 25, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
I saw something yesterday, on the streets of my home town, that chilled me to my bones.

It was an old VW bug, painted pink, with a pig’s snout and ears welded to the hood. On the side was painted “Pink Floyd,” with the logo from their “Dark Side of the Moon” on it, the triangular crystal refracting a rainbow. No big deal, until I looked at the driver. His hair was white, and his white beard hung down to his chest. He wasn’t the owner’s father. He was the car’s builder.

Here in the middle of life, or a campaign, we can easily forget Time’s Arrow, or where it points for all of us. But figure the driver for 60. He was 30 when he made that car.

Then look around at this election. John Kerry defines himself as a Vietnam Veteran, Wesley Clark was a captain in that conflict. Even Governor Dean was seared by it, cheered to declared 1-Y for the draft after Kerry threw his medals away, and his good brother Charlie dead in Laos.

All that was all 30 years ago, and more. Kerry’s defining himself by Vietnam is like a Progressive in 1904 wearing his Civil War medal. Salute, but it’s irrelevant. “[Vietnam] is young people dying for the wrong reasons, because leaders don't do the things that they should to protect them. Yes I do [see a parallel with Iraq].”

He’s living in the past. Maybe we all are.

James MacGregor Burns writes in his book “Transforming Leadership” that two points mark a Transformative Leader, the kind of leader we all see in Governor Dean.

First, a movement arises around him that he did not create. (Check.)

Second, leaders emerge from within that movement.

Win or lose in New Hampshire, it is time for Phase Two to commence.

I think Anna Topia would make a great Congresswoman from Texas. I do. She’s old enough to run, by her own admission. Maybe, in 2004, she’d be swamped, perhaps even in the primary. But she would learn, and grow. She could try again, and win.

Aziz could be a Senator, and Jason a Mayor. Matt B. could be whatever he wants to be. Christopher, Amanda, name your position and go for it. Maybe you, dear reader, should be considering a run for City Council, or School Board. When Jimmy Carter ran for re-election in 1980, young Dr. Howard Dean licked envelopes.

Don’t look my way, though. I’m 49. I like naps, I’ve got high blood pressure, and I’ve always been more of a a Tom Paine-in-the-neck than a Jefferson. But I’ll be here on the sidelines, cheering you all on.

Let the last words here be Burns’.

"Can we, in coming decades, mobilize throughout the world a new, militant, but peaceful army -- tens of thousands of leaders who would in turn recruit fresh leaders at the grass roots, in villages and neighborhoods, from among the poor themselves, to fight and win a worldwide war against desperation?"

It’s your time now.


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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.