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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, November 11, 2004


Fight brewing over Dean for DNC Chair

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, November 11, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
what a surprise...

Democratic moderates are gearing up to mount a campaign to block a former presidential candidate, Howard Dean, from succeeding Terence McAuliffe as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, arguing that his election to the top post would prevent the party from moving to the political center.

Look, I've been arguing for a Purple State approach myself, but the "political center" that the supposed "Democratic moderates" are speaking about is not a true synthesis of ideas from left and right, but rather Republican-lite. Look at the evidence:

Speaking on CNN, an outgoing Democratic senator from Louisiana, John Breaux, warned that Dr. Dean is the wrong man for the job. "We're going to have to move to the center," Mr. Breaux said.

"There's nothing wrong with that," he added. "We can keep the base in by having good, solid Democratic ideas. But you'd better know how to expand them. Otherwise you're going to be a party that loses elections. We've lost three in a row now. And I think moving to the center is where the answer is."
Southern Democrats are also pushing former Rep. Brad Carson of Oklahoma, who lost a Senate bid last week to Republican Tom Coburn. Mr. Carson, who received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, ran as a moderate.

While acknowledging that he would be a longshot, the chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, Jay Parmley, said Mr. Carson is exactly the kind of politician the national party should be turning to. "We need a moderate and a conservative to lead us into the midterm elections," he said.

Carson himself says it's unlikely, but the point here is that the Democrats are explicitly thinking they need to be conservative to win the South. That, despite the fact that more people voted for Kerry in Texas than any other state besides New York and California.

The Democrats basically want to try to continue playing the Red Blue game, and are willing to abandon their certitude to do it. It's clear that Dean's approach, unbashedly liberal and unafraid to make the argument that liberalism is worth being proud of, in blue or red territory, is the only way that the Democrats can really reinvent themselves successfully. Anything else will just be another failed excuse.

UPDATE: ABC News has more on this. A possible Rosenberg/Dean combination? Intriguing.. Rosenberg's NDN network was just as innovative, and visionary, as Dean's campaign, with respect to Hispanic outreach. The list of challenges that the new DNC Chair will face seems almost tailored for Dean's skills and leadership, too.


Put me down as a denizen of the Cretaceous if you will, but I have maintained all along that Howard Dean is a *conservative* Democrat by any logical definition of the word.


agreed, Alan, and therein lies the irony. The DNC wants to court the South. So naturally the refuse to consider the only candidate who even mentioned the South - and label him too liberal. Its surreal, and orwellian in some ways too.

But my beef is that they are going with "shallow conservatism" rather than principled moderation. Dean balances budgets because he thinks its the right thing to do. It doesnt matter whether "balanced budget" is a left idea or a right idea. And thats the essence of Purple.

The DNC needs to be the party of Ideas and Solutions. Not the Party of Convenient Political Positioning.


The Democratic Party sure isn't going to win back control by kissing off California--or New York--or the west coast, the northeast, and the upper midwest. Some people have suggested a "Progressive Conservative" party, but that name doesn't have any historical resonance in the United States. Is it time for us to reconstitute the Democratic Republican Party?


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Carolyn, I deleted your comment because of the unneccessary insult to religious Southerners. Please remember that the guidelines for the Discussion threads are to be absolutely respectful of other votersm especially those who disagreed with you. I won't allow that sort of hyperbole here.


no surprise here, why would they want anyone that's honest and has a backbone.The pettition has 2,795 signatures and I for one would love to see Dean somewhere he has a voice. It was good enough for them when they wanted his voice and his voters to win this campaign.


I live in South Carolina, and I think that the Democratic Party does not need to move to the center or to the right. We need to start standing up and saying that a lot of our ideas are already moderate. Issues such as Affirmative Action, Gay Rights (not Gay Marriage), stem cell research, support of just (not unjust) wars, a stable economy, education for all, health care rights, women's issues,ect. are moderate ideas because they are issues that try to bring people together and make sure that things are evened up for all people. THAT'S TRUE MODERATION! The DLC/DNC needs to get off of this, Let's move to the center trip. We already are in the center!


The DNC Might Be Out of Touch...

Just in case the DNC decides to go the "Republican Lite" route again, how about running as an independant?

There are important differences between the two major parties, to be sure, but the invasion/occupation of Iraq is not one of them. Dean was bounced by the Democrat Party power brokers because he came out against the war, and he was resonating with the American public. Can't have that--look at Colorado Senator Gary Hart, or California Governor Jerry Brown for proof that there's no place for a real populist anymore in the Democratic Party.

Howard Dean should cash in on the "political capital" he earned in 2004 and run as an independent in 2008. He is uniquely positioned as the only candidate with the grassroots popularity to defeat both Hillary and Arnold at the same time.

He could even take a page out of Brown's book and limit donations to $100 each, to inspire real democracy and offset the impact of the 527 groups that support the "major party" candidates.

Jerry Brown almost knocked Bill Clinton out of the 1992 primaries with that strategy. If he would have waited until after the New York primaries to name Jesse Jackson as his running mate, then he would have continued the momentum he gained after Clinton's early lead had temporarily evaporated. Brown had won more than a few states in a row until the primaries hit "hymietown (an unfortunate racial slur of Jackson's)".

There is a real electoral base out there that is ready to elect a real candidate, with real ideas and real principles. Howard Dean is the only player currently on the horizon positioned to take advantage of that.


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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.