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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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Saturday, January 10, 2004


the Flailing Media Establishment

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, January 10, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Governor Dean's comments years ago on Canadian public television:

Dean: On a Saturday, is it easy for me to go cast a ballot and spend 15 minutes doing it, or do I have to sit in a caucus for 8 hours?

Guest: This is a good thing, though.

Dean: I don't think so. I don't have the time to do it. It doesn't get people involved. It drives people out of the process, and leaves the people who are left in the process -- the professional people who get paid to be there.

Guest: Let the people in the neighborhoods convince you, say...

Dean: They can't convince me. I've got my kid's soccer game. I've got my second job. I've got all these other reasons that I can't do these things.

Guest: If that's the case, the 15 minutes you're going to devote to politics in your year is a pretty perfunctory involvement in politics.

Dean: Not necessarily. I read the papers, maybe I watch television. I form my opinions, I get to go exercise my opinion. But I can't stand there and listen to everyone else's opinion for eight hours about how to fix the world.

How these comments were edited on NBC Television:

NBC Voice Over: Dean even suggested the caucuses were a waste of time for ordinary people

Dean: “I can’t stand there and listen to everyone else's opinion for eight hours about how to fix the world.”

The media establishment is, as the O-blog puts it, "flailing". This isn't about objective coverage, journalistic integrity, or educating the public. It's about Gotcha!. Nothing else.

The meaning of Dean's comments are crystal clear - that the caucus is too political, that there needs to be more ordinary Americans (the kinds with soccer games and second jobs) involved for it to have meaning. Eight hours of droning politicians is exactly what turns people off of the electoral process.

And Dean's answer today is to bring in those ordinary people - by encouraging people to hand-write thousands of letters to those ordinary folks. By bringing in new faces and young energy and passion about changing the world. By making politics relevant again.

The reaction from Dean's opponents is fear, of the People Power that does sweep over their political calculations like a perfect storm, of the way that ideas can lead to a revolution in ideas. They fear the higher expectations that we will hold them accountable to - and so they are trying to slander us to discredit it.

And the media fears what an educated and passionate People Power will mean to their laziness and over-reliance on entertainment rather than the duty they owe us as the Fifth Estate. They fear the higher expectations that we will hold them accountable to - and so they are trying to slander Dean to discredit him.

It's the alliance between Dean and us that strikes fear into the alliance of the political and media establishments. And that fear is well-deserved. As Senator Harkin said in is endorsement:

Paul Wellstone and I always believed that Democrats can't win competing over a shrinking pool of voters. We must expand our party in every direction and from all walks of life.

Howard Dean is doing just that. He inspires ordinary folks to join in the political process. He understands that when people are energized.... when the electorate expands.... when people turn out on Election Day... Democrats win.

There is a powerful authenticity to Howard Dean. With that authentic demeanor, his toughness, his progressive beliefs, and his plain-speaking, he is the Harry Truman of our time. I believe most Iowans and most Americans would rather have an occasional mistake by someone who speaks openly and forthrightly, than the
practiced, nuanced, measured emptiness of today's political chatter.

But wait, you say. I can't go to Iowa, I can't help Dean from here... yes you can. You can swing the bat! And that's the way we will win, by showing that hundreds of thousands of voices raised as one can defeat even the deepest pockets of a small elite. FEED THE BAT and defend Dean - and defend yourselves!


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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.