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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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Monday, February 16, 2004


Tomorrow I Vote Dean

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, February 16, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Tomorrow is the Wisconsin primary. My expectation is that Howard Dean will lose. The linked poll above certainly indicates that. From what I've seen, Dean is running as a left-wing insurgent rather than a maverick reformer. In order to win that way, he needs to dominate in Dane County and convince everyone else he isn't crazy. From where I sit in Madison (Dane County), he is not doing the former, and may not even have a plurality. You can feel good because the mood toward Dean feels better than it's been, but it's not enough. Given a few more months, maybe, but they're simply not there.

Two problems people have talked about before also seem in evidence in this state. On the bus home tonight, someone carrying some cards got on, stood in the middle of the bus, and began lecturing us about the flaws of Kerry and Edwards. No one was much impressed, and I think the tactic overwhelmed the message. The main TV ad I keep seeing has the theme that the media says he doesn't have a chance, but if we vote for him, we can make the Wisconsin primary matter. This is not a winning message next to Kerry's talk about health care and Edwards discussing the economy.

That said, I fully intend to vote for Howard Dean tomorrow, and I see this as a vote meant to accomplish positive goals. For one thing, we all want Dean to have a voice in the party, and demonstrated electoral strength will help that. A decent showing here will also help him go out on a "better than expected" note, which would be beneficial if he wants to run in 2008 in the unfortunate event that Bush wins this November. Finally, I believe in voting for the candidate who best represents my views except in very special circumstances. If Dean were badly behind and the state a Kerry/Clark dogfight, I might consider Clark, but I honestly don't think Edwards can win either. And I don't understand the "rally around the nominee" mentality. Bush will not run campaign ads saying that Kerry for only 40% of the Wisconsin vote instead of 50%.

So to those Wisconsinites reading this who might be depressed, I say walk into the polls tomorrow and vote proudly for the man you have followed this far. Do so with pride, and this campaign will be remembered for its many accomplishments regardless of the results. Do so with conviction, and other politicians will take notice and start figuring out how to appeal to your beliefs. And do so with hope, because even if Dean does lose this election, votes are often about causes and bundles of issues more than candidates. No member of the Progressive party ever became President, yet their issues carried the day in the early 20th century.

The press will focus on the momentary horserace, but from the perspective of history, I think one thing is clear:

You matter.


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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.