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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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Saturday, April 24, 2004


descent into the Vague

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, April 24, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
I've been compulsively checking Change for America's blog since launch, desperate for any hint of something concrete ever since my Open Letter to the group two months ago. The blog has been mostly links roundups and general topics since, but I always felt that there was something brewing back there, something worth waiting for.

Oh, frail notions disabused! Yesterday, Joe Drymala posted to the CFA blog, an entry vapidly titled "Unite for Change."

Here at Change for America, we're building an organization designed to enact progressive change through grassroots organizing and fundraising -- to fight for those issues that made us all believe in in the progressive movement in the first place.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a car commercial? I'm giving up on hoping CFA can bring anything meaningful to the table. I've been giving them the benefit of the doubt, but it's become soberingly clear that CFA has no ideas - and probably never did.

I think they hoped to channel the netroots and hope that we came up with something amazing for them to harness, and thus replicate the Deanalanche. But what's missing here, unlike with the Dean campaign, is an active leader who can take charge, and actively inspire the grassroots. (memo: repeating the words "change", "unite", and "progessive" in an endless random pattern is not inspiring).

What suggestions do I have, you ask? At the very least, a Scoop-driven site would be a better start. Active posts from Trippi educating people about GOTV and caucus tactics based on his experience drawn from the Carter and Dean campaigns. A book review of the month. An internship program every summer for research using Lexis into building a database of who said what and when (for example: what was Paul Bremer saying about the Bush Administration's approach to terrorism in February 2001?). An archive of political ads and public discussions about what makes them tick. And that's just for starters.

There's a vast pool of skills out there that is untapped. There's a small pool of experience out there - much of it concentrated in places like CFA - that can provide an outlet for those skills by giving gthem direction. There's a lot of hard work and slogging that needs to be done, far more than just telling people "go run for office" or to "unite for change". CFA and Trippi have a frare opportunity to leverage their know-how into something concrete, but it never materialized. And now the window of opportunity is likely gone for good. The worst thing is, that they don't even realize what potential they had to waste.


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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.