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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, July 29, 2003


Base Anger

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, July 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The conservative Weekly Standard sees a real threat from Dean - and recognizes the symbolism of the fundraising model of the campaign, as tapping into the real roots of the Democratic party:

But these itty-bitty donations have a symbolic value, too. The Democratic party is a wishbone of proletarian sloganeering and plutocratic direction that, when snapped, always leaves one side disillusioned. Racial and lifestyle minorities provide the electoral ballast for the party, true. But outside of those categories, the Democrats are the party of America's crème de la crème--not just the "cultural elite," as Dan Quayle put it, but the elite, period. Overwhelming evidence for this came in the form of a June study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. It found that Republicans outraise Democrats by 63 percent to 37 percent among penny-ante donors--those who give under $200. The GOP retains that advantage at all levels up to $100,000, although it steadily narrows as the dollar amount rises. Once you hit $100,000, the Democrats really begin to clean up. They hold a fundraising advantage that widens rapidly as the numbers get more stratospheric. In contributions of over $1 million, they outraise Republicans by 92 percent to 8 percent.

Dean may have risen by attracting a base of fundraisers who are the same people as those the party claims, increasingly implausibly, to speak for. Nonetheless--or, perhaps, therefore--many Democrats are asking whether he is "electable." Among these doubters are the architects of two consecutive losses in national elections. Their skepticism seems premature. Those Democrats who dismiss Dean as unelectable are making an assessment of what non-Democratic voters think, and this is a subject on which Democrats have been driven into a frenzy of illogic by their dislike of George W. Bush. The current self-serving self-delusion--one reads it in "Doonesbury" and hears it from Nancy Pelosi and a variety of marginal commentators and celebrity know-nothings--is that Republicans have succeeded because their message is stupid and simple and dishonest; and Democrats have failed because they're so subtle and principled. Under this logic, Democrats will do best by nominating a malevolent sleazeball and getting him to shout at the top of his lungs. Suffice it to say that this logic is identical to that upon which Republicans built a string of defeats in the Clinton years.

The article goes in into much more detail about the various "unelectability" arguments and provides original counterarguments, from the perspective of the right-moderate rather than the left one. And closes with recognition that Dean's rise is ultimately rooted in widespread opposition to Bush - something that the DLC seems unable to understand.


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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.