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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, February 20, 2004


Dean's Rough Ride

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, February 20, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The title of this fantastic piece in the Nation is deliberately evocative of Teddy Roosevelt, I am sure. But the rest of the piece is just as insightful, in distilling down the basic reasons why Dean spoke so powerfully to the rest of us:

I already feel nostalgia for his distinctive one-liners:

"Too many of our leaders have made a devil's bargain with corporate and wealthy interests, saying 'I'll keep you in power if you keep me in power.'"

"As long as half the world's population subsists on less than two dollars a day, the US will not be secure.... A world populated by 'hostile have-nots' is not one in which US leadership can be sustained without coercion."

"Over the last thirty years, we have allowed multinational corporations and other special interests to use our nation's government to undermine our nation's promise."

"There is something about human beings that corporations can't deal with and that's our soul, our spirituality, who we are. We need to find a way in this country to understand--and to help each other understand--that there is a tremendous price to be paid for the supposed efficiency of big corporations. The price is losing the sense of who we are as human beings."

"In our nation, the people are sovereign, not the government. It is the people, not the media or the financial system or mega-corporations or the two political parties, who have the power to create change."

Do you not remember those remarks? Dean's best lines--evocative suggestions rather than explicit policy pronouncements--were not widely reported. In his brisk, scattered manner, he was talking about power, inviting people to contemplate the deteriorated condition of our democracy, expressing his solidarity with their skepticism and alienation. Audiences responded, but this sort of talk was too soft and allusive to constitute "news." Dean's style was indeed "hot"--"angry," the reporters said--but they simply couldn't deal with his reflective side; it didn't fit the caricature.

Nor did they take much interest in concrete ideas, unless a rival accused him of heresy. Dean called for a labeling law for mutual funds--full disclosure on the fees they charge investors. He wanted a Fannie Mae for small business. And a national commission on how to restore democracy--no politicians allowed. He wanted to confront the concentration of oversized corporations and break up media conglomerates. In addition to full financial disclosure by corporations, Dean called for full social accounting: "Why shouldn't companies be accountable to investors and the public on other important matters like environmental standards and labor relations? Knowledge is power."
These ideas and others perhaps sounded too fanciful, since neither party in Congress would have much enthusiasm for them. The dead hand of the past always feels threatened by a new guy with a different idea of what's possible.

It's a brilliant piece - check out the rest!


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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.