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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, October 10, 2005


the center will rise

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, October 10, 2005 permalink View blog reactions
There's a new book by a pair of political scientists entitled Off Center which seeks to analyze American politics to answer why even though most people are demonstrably moderate, the right side of the political spectrum has enjoyed such electoral success. The basic thesis of the book itself will probably be rejected with prejudice by a comitted Republicanist; however, principled conservatives should take notice, as the book is as relevant to them as it is to liberals. More importantly, as Kevin Drum notes in his succinct review, is that the book sets the stage for the following philosophical question:

do Democrats need to fight fire with fire? Or will the center eventually hold if Democrats figure out a more effective way of appealing to moderate voters?

I think that finding an answer to this question should not be a question of tactics, but rather of principle. Clearly, fighting fire with fire can only lead to Democratism at some point down the line; it is absurd to think that there would be restraint suddenly imposed from within.

If we are to renew the political climate in this nation, and build a truye American majority, we need to return to principles as the foundation for the conversation with the American polity.

Ultimately, there question of how to reachout more effectively to the center is not a new one, and it isn't even a secret. Those who argue the Democrats are not a party of ideas are simply wrong; those who argue that marketing those ideas is poor are probably right. But as long as there is some fascination with the tools used by the right to gain dominance - at the expense of conservative principles - those ideas will never have a chance at fair presentation.

NOTE: the book's author's are guest-blogging at Washington Monthly and explain their ideas in more detail.


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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.