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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 27, 2004


ideals vs process I

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, February 27, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
As many of you know, the subtitle of my other blog is "principled pragmatism." It's my personal philosophy towards politics, that seeks to find a balance between having good ideas and actually putting them into practice. One important corollary to this is that "perfection is the enemy of the good" - and taken together, these axioms are the foundation of the change that needs to take place in this nation's poliitical sphere.

Ideas matter. Our American political system has a long tradition of ideas stemming back from Locke through Jefferson to Mill, and from this central axis of thought on the nature and purpose of government, we have many healthy branches of other ideologies that have served to enrich the debate. Howard Dean was an appealing candidate to me because he not only expressed the liberal ideal, but he tied it back to our foundational thinkers (evoking the Reolutionary documents like Paine's Common Sense and the Declaration itself). But what gave his ideas true weight was his record of success in Vermont in actually implementing those ideas.

In other words, Dean was the epitome of principled pragmatism. Not pragmatism for its own sake, but one guided by his principles, which themselves are drawn from the rich tradition of American government. I hope that DFA v2.0 will continue along that track, because what we really need DFA v2.0 for is to keep these ideas in the debate, prevent them from being delegitimized by the unprincipled, opportunistic, and anti-democratic ideology that animates the machinery of the political right. DFA v2.0 needs to reclaim the full spectrum of American politics, liberal and conservative, and reunite them into a true dialog that is above all focused on finding policy solutions that can draw on the best of both worlds.

Liberals and conservatives are one. Neither is represented by the GOP. DFA v2.0 must create a synthesis of ideas from across the spectrum, dedicate itself to finding reasonable, informed, and idealistic (but not ideological) policy solutions from that synthesis. And DFA v2.0 must rally to its banner all those politicians - Republican, Democrat, or otherwise - who agree with the core principle of loyalty to our nation and our people first, loyalty to political party a distant second.


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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.