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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 04, 2004


How united are we?

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, November 04, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The answer to that question is a matter of perspective. The electoral map of red and blue looks divided indeed, and we have seen now in two Presidential elections that accepting that division as an axiom, and basing your electoral strategy on GOTV to eke out a thin margin of victory accordingly, has no margin of error. It only serves to emphasize the divisions, rather than bridge them.

Some on the right are interrested in reaching out, but as David Neiwert notes, actions belie words. Though Megan McArdle implores her conservative comrades to "give peace a chance", there is no repudiation of fellow conservative Adam Yoshida's cry to "curb-stomp the bastards" at yet. However, counter-arguments to Bill Bennett's declaration of a cultural war mandate do abound, which is a good sign.

Do Red States and Blue states exist? We should be striving to make the answer, "no." But there are different ways to erase the distinction. One is to simply declare an Orwellian kind of revisionism, as Michelle Malkin does by invoking the county-level results. The clearly-titled message here is, there aren't any blue states of consequence, so why worry about what they want?

Alternatively, a diarist at Daily Kos paints a different picture, based on a more graduated percentage scale. Here, the message is, that red ain't so red, and blue ain't so blue. Most states are some shade of purple, with far smoother variation. If a county-level map were made from the same data, it would showeven finer gradations.

The purple state scenario is the assumption that has to define electoral strategy. Crafting a Purple message is not capitulation to the conservative message, nor is it a clumsy attempt to dress up liberal ideas in religious trappings to "market" them more effectively. It means waging a real battle for ideas, with a long-term outlook that may well concede control for 2006 with an eye to 2008 and even further beyond.

Of course, there are plenty of extremists on our own side of the fence who see things as black and white, or red and blue, as the most committed partisan on the right. They probably look at this funny map from MWU with a wistful sigh rather than a tickled snort. They too are simply too invested in the dichotomy assumption, and guarantee themselves electoral irrelevance as a result. We need to reject defeatist attitudes that deny the common bonds of Purple that bind all Americans, regardless of whether such attitudes hail from right or left.


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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.