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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 15, 2003


Dangerous Analogies

posted by Matt Singer at Tuesday, July 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
(This is a cross-post from

Chris Suellentrop has a piece about Dean and the net over at Slate. We applaud his recognition of our fine organization, but we take issue with his opening analogy:
It's too early to say for certain, but Howard Dean may turn out to be the Napster of presidential politics: the force that enables the Internet to upend an entire industry, threatens to transform the way it collects money, and opens the eyes of the average person to yet another way to use the Net. But if Dean is a political Napster, it will probably mean more for politics in general than it means for Howard Dean. After all, two years after Napster went dark, people are still logging on to the Internet to swap music files. Ultimately, Napster empowered music users more than it empowered itself. Something analogous will probably be true with Internet politics. That's good news for political junkies, but it could be bad news for Howard Dean.
The great power of Napster existed not just for Napster but for the spread of music. Likewise, the power of any internet campaign is to promote the spread of the candidate. Even if Dean's own internet campaign loses its pull on the 'net (unlikely, given the popularity of its blog among supporters), it will likely be because the supporters found better methods.

Music fans switched from Napster to Gnutella because Gnutella was more resilient. Today, they are using Kazaa or heaven knows what because it is still workable.

Someone commented that the internet often goes through four or five news cycles while the rest of the world goes through one. Well, campaigns have to be four or five times more dynamic on the 'net.

In the end, though, Dean's supporters aren't together by his campaign's use of the 'net (which, while impressive, is only a small portion of the Dean Matrix that comprises all of the online Dean-world), but by their desire to build the candidate known as Howard Dean.

And, just as music continued to succeed, even as Napster had problems, even if Dean's own 'net campaign crashes, he'll still be the strongest candidate on the internet, cause Gnutella is here.


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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.