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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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Sunday, July 11, 2004


Remember the $100 Revolution?

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, July 11, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Joe Trippi has a good essay explaining how the dream has been realized - and of course, its roots are with the Dean movement. Some recap of history and where we are today:

The Kerry campaign has taken in more than $150 million this year, for a total of $182 million announced last week. $44 million of that was contributed online in just the last three months.
Mary Beth Cahill, John Kerry’s campaign manager, credits it to “the strength of the small donor.”

Remarkably, the average donation to the Kerry campaign online in May was $108, down dramatically from the first three months of the year where his average gift was a whopping $956.
What few remember now was that it was that decision—the first time a presidential campaign ever put its strategy to an online vote—that not only triggered Dean’s action, but led to John Kerry’s decision to opt-out of public financing as well. I am convinced that when the story of the 2004 election is written, that moment will be seen as the turning point of the entire campaign. By freeing himself from the restrictions of public funding, John Kerry put his trust in the people to sustain his campaign. What’s truly revolutionary is not merely that Kerry’s faith in his supporters was rewarded by their financial support, but that any candidate would let his campaign’s fundamental strategy be dictated, even indirectly, by a online plebescite.

To be accurate, it was Dean who allowed his campaign to be dictated to by the grassroots, and Kerry is reaping the benefits of that decision without having had to make it himself. Trippi tactfully doesn't mention the fact that at the time, Kerry critiqued Dean for eschewing the federal funds, calling the online vote a "fig leaf" - and then followed suit, claiming he didn't want to unilaterally disarm. The truth though is that Dean provided Kerry political cover from the other candidates, without which Kerry might not have taken the leap. In that scenario, Bush would have had an unstoppable monetary advantage by now. It's solely through financial parity that Bush's avalanche of negative campaigning hasn't dragged Kerry down.

Keep in mind though that the money Kerry raises today is because of Kerry, not Dean. The average voter sending Kerry his 100 bucks is doing so because they believe in Kerry to win against Bush, just as they voted for Kerry overwhelmingly in the primaries. As we laud the grassroots for their monetary might, we must also respect them for their collective vote. Dean's role was key, but it's Kerry's game now.


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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.