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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, March 08, 2004


a pragmatic outlook on DFA v2.0

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, March 08, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Dean Nation alumnus Jerome Armstrong has an analysis of the niche that DFA v2.0 seems to be evolving towards. The bottom line is that Jerome sees DFA v2 as the leader-in-waiting after a presumed Kerry stumble and Bush re-election. I think that point can be debated - there's simply no telling what Dean will do next and it's certain that the goal of the new organization will be very much dominated by Dean's specific vision, of which we can only guess.

But there is at least one part of the analysis that seems fairly on the mark and undisputable: that the netroots will be a reduced force:

Roy Neel is the executive in charge of the transition, and is guiding the formation of the new organization. What that means is that Gore and Dean are closer than ever, that Trippi's influence has completely waned, and that the decentralized netroots effort is no longer a guiding force from within Howard Dean organization.

Burlington's DFA is in its last days, the current HQ lease ends with March, and close to none of the HQ staff remain, even longtime Governor Dean office workers are moving on. Not a single person on the HQ's webteam of "wizards & stars" is staying on with the new organization. Check out the blog, and you'll find a couple of Iowa field crewmembers that landed off the bus in Burlington, and are now volunteering to run BFA. The outgoing transition for DFA staff was non-existent. Being placated by the smooth talking Neel, a few former DFA staffers have lingered on, enjoying the free-flowing presence of Dean in the office, perhaps expecting `the movement' to continue; but the implicit transition message --not unfriendly-- that's been given to them is to transition your way to the door.

What Dean and Gore's Neel appear to be doing is forming a non-campaign organizational staff of about 30-35, and composed of sidelined allies. The move, with a lower prioritized webteam comprised of three, abandons the Trippi-led decentralized netroots structure of DFA in favor of something more establishment-like in structure, leaving the decentralized netroots movement to run on its own, outside their command.

Does this mean that we will be irrelevant? Well, as long as we can raise money, and can vote, then the answer is no. My concern has never been that the netroots exert executive influence, in fact from that perspective I welcome the more traditional establishment-style structure. Where I want the netroots to be involved is in distributed analysis, policy discussion, and longer-range guidance about the actual goals and ideals.

It will be interesting to see what Dean has in store ten days from now. Jerome's post has only whetted my appetite.

UPDATE: interresting rebuttal from sdindc at kos, who was a volunteer on the ground in Iowa.


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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.