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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, January 16, 2004


(cynical) Libertarian for Dean,2933,108422,00.html

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, January 16, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Radley Balko, libertarian blogger, makes a case for Dean, arguing that doing so would be the best motivator for the GOP to do "the right thing" :

1. Republicans are most principled when someone they despise holds power. ... President Clinton fought for significant increases in the size and scope of the Department of Education. The Republicans wouldn’t allow it. President Clinton asked for significant campaign finance reform. It died in the Congress. President Clinton wanted an overhaul in the health care system, particularly a prescription drug benefit for seniors. He never got it.

In the three years President Clinton has been out of office, the Republican Congress has passed all three of those ideas into law. It’s pretty clear now that the GOP of the 1990s acted not out of principle, but out of spite. ... They simply didn’t want to give President Clinton any political victories. In contrast, the Congress has been so kind to President Bush, he may become the first American president since James Buchanan (search) to go an entire term without using the veto.

2. Divided government gets less done (always a good thing in Washington). The Cato Institute’s William Niskanen points out that in the last 50 years, the only two periods of extended fiscal restraint from the federal government came during the Eisenhower and Clinton administrations, both under divided government. The two eras when government expanded were the Kennedy/Johnson administration, and the current administration, both under united government. Note that party affiliation really doesn’t factor into the equation. A government that can’t pass laws can’t spend money. It can’t raise taxes. It can’t create new federal agencies or benefits.

3. Republicans are more principled when they’re not in power. Remember the Contract With America? (search) It was introduced in 1993. At that time, Republicans were in the minority, and had been, for the most part, for decades. The Contract With America proposed a radical downsizing of the federal government, including eliminating entire Cabinet departments. It was born of a “nothing left to lose” mentality. It was bold, brash and refreshingly principled. Of course, as soon as the Republicans won, largely because of the Contract, they promptly abandoned its most controversial provisions. They feared offending mainstream voters. They now had something to lose — their power.

What Balko misses in his analysis is the fact that the GOP is less about conservative ideals and more about power for its own sake. The GOP is not a party of fiscal conservatism, or any kind of conservatism - the GOP has become the Corporatist party. It's a machine-style politics with three Big Bosses - Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney. This ideological triumvirate maintains smooth machine operation with strict enforcement of party loyalty at all costs.

Balko thinks that electing Dean will motivate the GOP to do the right thing out of spite, but forgets that the infrastructure of the corporatist hold over the party has solidified during the Bush Administration. It's doubtful that the GOP can ever find it's way back from the hinterlands of ideology that it has sold itself to. And we haven't even mentioned the Religious Right...

I welcome the argument, however, because in making it Balko superficially acknowledges what Dwight Meredith has documented in extensive detail. The economy AND the lives of ordinary Americans improve under Democratic rule, relative ot the GOP.


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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.