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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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Thursday, July 15, 2004


Just a Thought

posted by Brian Ulrich at Thursday, July 15, 2004 permalink View blog reactions

So, it's been awhile.  I've just spent two months in Morocco, and am still a tad out of it with regard to American politics.  I have been thinking, though.  When you travel around Morocco, you run into a lot of poverty, deprivation, and hopelessness.  In Tangier, a mute boy was basically forced to become a hustler because there's not that much there for the handicapped.  At the link, I discuss some serious problems found in Casablanca and Fez, two cities I spent time in.
What occurs to me in all this is how lucky we are as Americans to live in a country that is set up to give everyone an opportunity.  In Morocco, only relatively well-off families can usually afford to send their kids somewhere to learn English, for example, with all the career opportunities that opens up.  We have programs like social security and medicaid that are designed to give basic survival resources to people who need them.
Is it all perfect?  Of course not, which is why we continue to have fights over issues like health care.  However, one thing I noticed about all this is the role of the government as the expression of the American community trying to solve problems.  Over the years, Americans have decided we needed things like welfare and medicare and Stafford loans so as to make our communities stronger.  They are government programs, but modern examples of Abraham Lincoln's government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 
And this perhaps is a key difference between liberalism and conservatism - to a conservative, the key idea is freedom, and what we want is for everyone to basically leave each other alone (economically) in the theory that individuals can best survive on their own.  There are certainly times when that is good - I am a capitalist who doesn't like government regulation unless there is a clear need.  However, Morocco to me helped show that we do need each other, that we need to look out for each other and lift each other up because that's what helps keep America strong and full of hope.  And as we enter into the campaign season and try to articulate what we stand for other than opposition to President Bush, that's definitely something to keep in mind.


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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.