Wednesday, February 18, 2004
post-Deanism: a rising tide
However, I disagree with everyone who says that Dean's supporters need to somehow organize into a new entity - be it a party or a group or a 527. The answer is not Yet Another Political Entity (YAPE). The correct response is for each of us to disperse, and carry the seeds of these rejeuvenated ideas - participatory democracy, idealism, unity - into the existing political entities that have dominated and will dominate the political landscape of this incredible nation. Thus we will effect change from within - across the political spectrum
The problem with the YAPE approach is that it fails on all three counts. YAPE does not bring the non-enfranchised cynical citizen to the voting booth, it just creates more echo chambers of thought. Do we need another version of Democratic Underground, Free Republic, etc. ? That's where the road leads - away from critical analysis on facts and towards a hyper-focused concensus that is outright hostile to dissent. This drives people away from the process.
In addition, YAPE is inherently anti-principled. Political entities invariably become focused on winning races, not arguments. And their currency is money, not votes. This is exactly why the Democrats have refused to stand up for their liberal beliefs, why the GOP has succeeded in making "liberalism" a dirty word, and why conservatives and libertarians still vote GOP despite the complete lack of any remaining conservative or libertarian impulses. With YAPE, politics transcends policy.
Finally, YAPE fractures the electorate further rather than seeking common ground. Look at Daily Kos, where Markos is beginning a concerted push to win House races for Democrats - I mostly agree with Democrats over Republicans on issues, but I find something very wrong about targeting a moderate for defeat on sole basis of the R next to his name. If he serves is constituency well, and is a moderate like Dean, then isn't this counter to the goal of change?
I have been avidly following Joe Trippi's new blog at Change For America, but he never really specified what change he wants to achieve, nor spelled out how he intends to achieve it. For all the talk about "building" on the Dean movement, there's a remarkable lack of specificity about what exactly that movement specified, with all the major players already seeking to subtly interpret it in their own way. Everyone sees US as a force to be harnessed, as a resource to be mined. But that isn't what we achieved - what we are is a new national dialouge.
Let me remind you of what we are. We are a group of hundreds of thousands of people who want to hold our politicians to a certain standard of responsibility. That sometimes might mean that the right guy for the job is a Republican, or maybe someone with no formal experience, or someone who is "unelectable" according to the conventional political "wisdom" of the hour. We have raised the bar of expectations for our public servants.
What's more, the Change that we want in our country is for our fellow Americans to share our view that what matters more than political party and demographic appeal is a commitment to facts and policy. We want our fellow Americans to be freed of the media - which does not serve their political interests the way that the old concept of the press used to. We want politicans who work for what they believe in and are willing to work across the aisle to achieve real solutions to the problems that face our society and the challenges ahead.
We are the embryonic seed of this change. But we need to be planted in the wombs of the political infrastucture that exists today so that we can bend these massive, inertial institutions to our will. We are the rising tide that will float all boats, not just those labeled R, D, NPR, or NASCAR.
I want Howard Dean to suspend campaigning and remain a candidate so that we can vote for him. Not to victory, but to influence. The history books MUST look back on 2004 and say of Howard Dean: He did not win, but he did succeed.
We must VOTE for Dean in EVERY primary. We must work to get Dean as many delegates as we can. That's the only way we can force history to recognize the true chord that Dean has struck within the electorate, and it will be a note that is heard by Kerry and all who follow him. We must VOTE FOR DEAN and say to the establishment, we are HERE TO STAY.
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Obama 2008 - I want my country back
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.