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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, June 07, 2004


a look under the hood of DFA,,SB108655747737429973,00.html?mod=todays%5Ffree%5Ffeature

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, June 07, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
hat tip to Barb for this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about Dean's continued activity as an "almost candidate". The article says that Dean has studied the lessons of the right in order to formulate tactics for the left:

The feisty former Vermont governor, determined not to be a fringe player, is boning up on the political right for guidance on how to better organize the left -- not just for November's elections but beyond. He is studying the tactics used by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Ralph Reed, who helped make the Christian Coalition a political power. A decade after Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Reed, now a private consultant and adviser to President George W. Bush's campaign, helped usher in an era of Republican power, Mr. Dean hopes to begin to shift the balance back toward his progressive agenda.

"Those people were very organized, they were very methodical about what they did," he says. If history is amused by the ironies, Mr. Dean believes it soon will have to sit up and take notice.

The focus on the Progressive agenda is fine, but not exactly what I had anticipated. Basically Dean is focusing on making the Progressive base more active, especially by drawing in youth (for example through the Music for America side-project). The idea is to match the energy on the right by getting out the liberal vote.

To be honest, I think that the left is already motivated by the excesses of the Bush Administration. Turnout among the base is not as key a concern IMHO as focusing on two goals - the short term, focusing on swing state undecided voters, and the long term, healing the polarized political divide.

In essence, Dean isn't going for the vision of a True American Majority, he is going for a numbers game advantage in the same old Us Vs Them game that politics in America has devolved to. To some extent that is critical, because it's the only way we can boot Bush - but I want to see some hint of a more visionary solution than just out-muscling the extremists.

Still, I can't discount the neccessity of what Dean is doing right now - especially in light of two other threats - Nader appeal and Kerry fatigue:

Certainly, Mr. Dean's free-spirited independence makes him an asset as Mr. Kerry tries to fend off defections to third party candidate Ralph Nader. As a trained doctor, Mr. Dean is working with old labor allies to promote health-care proposals at the heart of Mr. Kerry's domestic agenda.

Like no one else, perhaps, Mr. Dean is crucial if Mr. Kerry is to achieve his goal of greatly expanding the turnout among younger voters, who have swung against the Iraq war and remain worried by the lack of economic opportunity at home.

It won't be easy. "My constituency is divided on John Kerry," Mr. Dean acknowledges in an interview. Among young people, he says, the task is harder now that he no longer is a candidate, and the challenge is to keep alive that sense of community and civic involvement his campaign bred among otherwise disaffected voters.

Perhaps I just have to curb my idealism until after November 2004. Right now, there's only one goal: ABB.

I should also note that Dean's determination to court such tainted figures as Jim Moran might help the short term goal, but will surely damage the long term one. That choice is real cause for disappointment in Howard.


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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.