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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, August 04, 2003


The view from Texas

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, August 04, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
When it comes to Texas Democratic politics, the Deans (excuse the pun) of the blogsphere are Charles Kuffner and Byron LaMasters. They've been essential reading as Texas politics and the Killer D's (and the Honorable R) dominated the news cycles. Both have of course weighed in on the Texas Gambit.

Charles points out that Bush IS going to win Texas. Pretending otherwise is rather.. Naderesque. But he goes on to argue that despite this absolutely unassailable truth, there are three good reasons why Dean's Texas Gambit is a great idea:

1. There's still the small matter of the Democratic nomination for President. Texas may not have any electoral votes for Howard Dean, but it does have delegates, and he will need all of them he can get.

2. By bearding the lion at his ranch like this, Dean generated all kinds of free publicity for his campaign. People all around the country will read about it. How many political ads - in particular, how many political ads that don't have some pissed-off advocacy group demanding an apology and a retraction - become known to an audience that will never see them? As an added bonus, now Dean gets to add the "unafraid to take on the President on his own turf" meme to his story line. That will serve him well some day.

3. From the perspective of the state Democratic Party, the best thing that could happen to them in 2004 is for the Presidential candidate to spend money contesting Texas. If people feel they have a chance to vote for a winner, they'll overlook the fact that their vote won't actually make any Electoral College difference. Getting these voters out to the polls in 2004 could make the difference between losing more Congressional and State House seats to the Republicans and holding steady or even picking up a seat here and there.

In many ways, Point 3 is the most important - because it helps to grow the grassroots, and helps make the case that Dean has the leadership and the vision to lead the party. Which of course feeds right back into Point 1.

Byron has a decidely more pessimistic take on the situation:

Here's my concern. Dean is spending $200,000 that can't be spent on beating Bush. Anyone that claims that Dean, or any Democrat will beat Bush in Texas in 2004 does not know Texas politics. Unless Bush is found in bed with a dead girl or live boy, it ain't gonna happen. Sure, Texas can make a difference in the primary, but it won't make a difference in the general. Furthermore, at this point, I'm confident that Dean won't need much help in winning the Texas primary. He's the only campaign with an extensive organization in Texas at this point and most of the people that work in the party admit it. So, I'm not opposed to the ads in Texas... I'm looking forward to watching them when I get back down to Austin, but I honestly think that the money would be better spent next year in a place like Florida or Pennsylvania. I like the symbolism of an ad in Texas, but we're Democrats. We can't afford what I see as something of a symbolic gimmick. I know a lot of people call consider this a bold and courageous move (just read a few comments over at the Dean Blog). Well, I hope that's how the media spins it, but I'm not too sure. Anyway, that's my $0.02. I'd love to know what Andrew thinks about it, or anyone else.

though personally I wonder if his opinion will change after reading Charles' points, which have already acknowledged that Bush will take Texas.


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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.