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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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Wednesday, January 07, 2004


What Makes Howard Dean Strong?

posted by Dana at Wednesday, January 07, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Family is one of those words politicians talk about all the time, but no one does much about.

I'm not just talking about policy here.

In an AP story today, Dr. Howard Dean talked about his family, how his wife "won't be a prop" in his campaign, how his children are "out of bounds."

This is something that separates him, not just from his rivals for the nomination, not just from President Bush, but from every candidate we've seen on this level (save one Bill Bradley) for generations now.

I know what makes Howard Dean strong. It's the same thing that makes me strong. I hope it's what makes you strong, too.

It's family. Dr. Dean's family is a refuge from the hurly-burly of the world. He was fortunate to have that kind of refuge growing up, on Long Island. It's something we all deserve.

But it's something we're not accustomed to giving our leaders. Our leaders must use their wives and kids as props, they must talk about how they "give them strength," even if they then spend their nights (or days) catting around or (worse) lonely.

Part of our national prejudice against women politicians, I think, stems from the fact that men need the strength of strong family ties, and male voters who recognize this recoil instinctively from women, thinking they either don't have it or (worse) should be at home providing it.

But the word for that kind of family tie is dependence. When two people lean on one another, instead of standing straight hand-in-hand, it's called co-dependence.

So instead of talking about family, Howard Dean lives it. He goes home, he shuts the door, and the world of politics stays outside. But that home is not devoted solely toward giving him a refuge. There are three other people in it, strong people, good people, each of whom needs that home to be their refuge, too. Every member of the Dean family has a life and career of their own, outside the home, and each uses the strength of their family to give them courage when they go into the world.

Values, like religion, are spoken of too much in America, and lived too little. Whatever and whoever you consider your family, go to them tonight after Meetup, hug them, and count your blessings.


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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.