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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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Thursday, August 14, 2003


Why rural issues matter

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, August 14, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Kevin "Calpundit" asks why the candidates are even bothering with Iowa:

I understand why New Hampshire is so important, but what's the deal with Iowa? It's a caucus, not a primary, and everyone knows perfectly well that it's just one long pander-fest to agricultural interests. So why is it that more candidates don't simply declare that they aren't going to play in Iowa and then spend their time elsewhere?

That question is answered in part by an Atlanta Journal-Constitution guest column which points out how Dean's rural strategy is about building a grass-roots movement:

Rather than pandering to traditional Democratic power groups such as trial attorneys, unions or urban bosses, he is focusing on rural America and the thousands of towns and smaller cities that serve it as centers of daily life. Small-town life predominates Vermont, and Dean is promising to help restore rural communities.

He has tied positions on virtually every issue -- from the economy to the environment -- to the development and growth of rural areas, where he contends that President Bush's policies had little positive impact.

For many people in less densely populated areas, the Web has become a primary tool, from shopping to entertainment. So it may be that Dean's "small-town" thinking was the genesis of his campaign's celebrated strategy to have Web-using supporters forward campaign literature to others.

This allows Dean's camp to expand its reach on the Internet without violating tough rules on e-mail spam. Indeed, Dean's campaign has built a virtual community of online supporters. Many of them rally to the call for "emergency" small-dollar contributions that so far have eclipsed the amounts he has received from fat-cat contributors.

I suspect that by now the other candidates' motives for wooing Iowa are more reactionary to Dean than anything else. BTW, as a related update to the earlier post where y'all busted my chops for disrespecting the wind, comes this additional info about Dean's ethanol position (thanks to Mandy Tempel):

This is an excerpt from a volunteer who attempted to transcribe a speech that Dean gave in MN back in April: He was constantly interrupted by cheers, which is why you can read the repeating…

DEAN: 'And we need – we need an oil conservation policy that makes some sense. It’s not just drilling in the national parks that’s going to save our country. If you want to improve our environment, with green …reduction of greenhouse gases, and improve our ability to defend ourselves against terrorism, you start with a very simple thing. Put 10% ethanol in everybody’s gas tank. Why is that -- [member of the crowd: “No!]. No? Well, listen carefully – listen carefully. Hear me out. I understand that there are a number of people who believe that ethanol, as it’s made today, requires so many BTU’s to do the conversion, it’s not worth it. But, the Brazilians have been using other materials for ethanol, including sugar cane. They run their cars on 90% ethanol. And what that means is, you don’t have to use NTBE, which poisons our water, and it also means that for each 10% ethanol used in your gas tank, we reduce the total oil demand for the entire world by 2%. So this is a technology that we ought to find a way to use. I understand there’s a big subsidy to Archer-Daniels Midland, and I’m not interested in that. But I am interested in clean fuels that stop polluting the atmosphere, and reducing our oil imports from the Middle East, and getting off our dependence from oil, and getting –- moving towards a renewable, biomass-based energy, and this is part of the solution. (cheering)'

My fears are somewhat assuaged by this. I am extremely heartened to see Dean acknowledge the energy deficit issue directly. And note that elsewhere Dean has explicitly stated that he would limit the ethanol subsidies to a volume of production based on family-sized farms (hat tip: Dana). The bottom line is that I trust him not to screw it up or have a hidden agenda - he is focusing on solutions for solutions' sake. And we already know that he isn't exactly in Daniel Archer MIdlands' pocket :)


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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.