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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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Friday, December 12, 2003


Racism, the south, and the most important political speech of the new century

posted by annatopia at Friday, December 12, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
The O-blog briefly hilighted this article in today's Black Commenter, but I feel it deserves more attention. The article puts a heavy emphasis on Rev Sharpton's presence in the race, and claims that Dean wouldn't be speaking so strongly against the Republican strategy of race-baiting unless Sharpton was there. (On that one point, I'd beg to differ, as Dean has been addressing this issue since last February.) BC also makes a sound argument that Dean's forcefulness on the issue has been inspired - at least in part - by Sharpton's presence.
Many have speculated that Sharpton is running as a power play against the Jackson family (gee, it's all about power plays according to big media). I disagree with them and agree with Black Commentator. Sharpton is there to give a voice to the black community. Sharpton is running against the Clinton legacy, and hoping that he can wake up the white democratic establishment to the reality that is faced by blacks across the nation. They didn't get much out of the 90s, and they're determined not to be taken for granted. Dean gets this, and since early Spring he's attempted to clue in white democrats to this troubling fact. Dean has been trying to unite us all for quite some time, and I do believe he would have gotten to this point without Sharpton in the race. But I do believe Sharpton has added an urgency to the process, and that's a good thing.
I've stated repeatedly that I feel racism is one of our biggest problems, and that while the Civil Rights movement may theoretically be "over", the struggle still continues. And it's not just a black problem. It's about all of us, regardless of skin color. It's not a problem that's isolated to the south (although that is where the Republicans have been most successful in exploiting the issue). It's an American problem. And the only way we'll solve it is if we begin to honestly address it. It begins with admitting the problem (perhaps this is where Sharpton's presence has been most influential), which Dean did so eloquently in his December 7 speech. Where we go from here depends on us. Will we heed the call and begin the healing? Or will we continue to pretend it doesn't exist while the Republican party continues to use race to drive a wedge right through the heart of America?
Here are a few excerpts from the December 7 address in South Carolina:
To distract people from their real agenda, (Republicans) run elections based on race, dividing us, instead of uniting us. But these politics do worse than that -- they fracture the very soul of who we are as a country.
It was a different Republican president, who 150 years ago warned, "A house divided cannot stand," and it is now a different Republican party that has won elections for the past 30 years by turning us into a divided nation.
In America, there is nothing black or white about having to live from one paycheck to the next. Hunger does not care what color we are...
It's time we had a new politics in America -- a politics that refuses to pander to our lowest prejudices.
Because when white people and black people and brown people vote together, that's when we make true progress in this country.
Jobs, health care, education, democracy, and opportunity. These are the issues that can unite America.
The politics of the 21st century is going to begin with our common interests.
If the President tries to divide us by race, we're going to talk about health care for every American.
If Karl Rove tries to divide us by gender, we're going to talk about better schools for all of our children.
If large corporate interests try to divide us by income, we're going to talk about better jobs and higher wages for every American.
If any politician tries to win an election by turning America into a battle of us versus them, we're going to respond with a politics that says that we're all in this together - that we want to raise our children in a world in which they are not taught to hate one another, because our children are not born to hate one another...
The politics of race and the politics of fear will be answered with the promise of community and a message of hope.
And that's how we're going to win in 2004....
We have great work to do in America. It will take years. But it will last for generations. And it begins today, with every one of us here.
Abraham Lincoln said that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth. But this President has forgotten ordinary people.
That is why it is time for us to join together. Because it is only a movement of citizens of every color, every income level, and every background that can change this country and once again make it live up to the promise of America.
So, today I ask you to not just join this campaign but make it your own. This new era of the United States begins not with me but with you. United together, you can take back your country.


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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.