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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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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The Next Right: a big tent?

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, May 27, 2008 permalink View blog reactions
I am a liberal, but I am quite enthusiastic about the idea of The Next Right, because liberalism and conservatism are both essential strains within the American body politic. I remember when RedState was launched many years ago and I was equally enthusiastic, though at the time there was far less consensus that there was something wrong on the Right. Since then RedState has come to epitomize all that is wrong with the Right and I think that The Next Right, in particular because of the people who are behind it, might be the right thing at the right time.

I interpret conservatism, broadly speaking, as the struggle to liberate men from the tyranny of the state. liberalism might then be interpreted as an extension of conservatism, the struggle to liberate men from the tyranny of economics. Where both sides go wrong is in forgetting that the pther is also necessary - we must be free of the State's interference from our lives, but we also cannot countenance on a moral level the attitude that when it comes to human lives, we can permit some to rise and some to fall solely as the function of a vast and soulless capitalistic enterprise. ALL must rise, and be provided food, water, a roof, and education, so that ALL may contribute to the society at large.

A unified political theory can be articulated that draws elements from both traditions. However, it requires room for dissenting views - in other words, a "big tent" which can accomodate the full spectrum of thought and opinion so necessary to keep the two traditions seeded with ideas and energy. Where they meet is where red and blue merge into purple and where the future will be shaped, just as the tree of liberty stands at the boundary between soil and sunlight, the product of both.

Success to you, NextRight. Don't get caught up only in the mechanics of building a political organization. Roll up your intellectual sleeves as well, and formulate the foundation so you can also build a political movement as well. You may well find liberals walking alongside you.

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I would have to disagree with your interpretation of conservatism. For me, conservatism is closer to the Bill Clinton quote you have at the top of the blog. The best I can describe both conservatism and liberalism come from the first sentences from the articles in Wikipedia:

Conservatism - favor tradition and gradual change.

Liberalism - consider individual liberty to be the most important political goal.

Note that neither is actually an opposite of each other, and one can be a "conservative liberal" if traditions of the nation you're speaking of does indeed, value individual liberty above all else. Its also why I personally disassociate those terms from "left" and "right".

Which also makes me laugh when someone accuses some polititial as being liberal for not wanting to leave people alone and wanting dictate their behavior. To me, that sounds like saying "He values individual liberty above any other goal because he doesn't want to leave people alone and wants to dictate their behavior".

But I highly agree with you when you say both schools of thought are necessary in U.S. politics.

I'll add The Next Right to the feed list and see how they act in the long run. A quick scan of the articles doesn't reveal any immediate insanity, and they would fit in nicely as a more pro-McCain site to balance out all of the eventually pro-Obama (if weakly so) conservative sites I ended settling on a while back (they were not even considering the Democratic nominees when I had added them in the first place. Funny how that happened...). I do hope that they don't go down the path RedState had gone.


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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.