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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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Sunday, November 07, 2004



posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, November 07, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
I've been reflecting on what direction this blog needs to go to remain an independent and useful voice in bringing true dialog back to American politics. I started this blog solo, but recruited an amazing number of people like Heath and Dana and Anna and everyone else who posted here with such passion and excitement for two years. But I think it's time to rethink what this blog stands for and what its purpose is.

It can't be about Howard Dean, the man, anymore. Nor can it be about Barack Obama the same way. It needs to be about something larger than a single politician, or even a single ideology. Reading Dean's quote at left about reaching out, and Obama's quote about One America, it inspires me - to think outside the boxes that Dean and Obama themselves still inhabit to a large degree.

 I have been talking about "purple states" recently. If you look at where most of the liberal left-leaning blogs are going, they are debating how to turn states blue, and see the Purple-ness of those states as a sign of eventual success. This is still old thinking, an implicit validation of the binary nature of politics.

Politics is not binary at the individual level. And if we are heirs to the Dean movement, we must recognize that the individual is king. And that the individual operates according to universal prinicples, interpreted differently, based on experience, upbringing, and raw opinion.

The challenge then is to bring more divserity to Dean Nation, to seek out voices from farther beyond the narrow center-left spectrum we used to have. And to try and re-define the issues according to what values and principles we share.

Why shouldn't liberals be for nuclear power? Why shouldn't conservatives be for a woman's rights? Wy shouldn't a libertarian be for socialized health care? In fact, many Americans in Purple America are all these things, a seeming paradox if you look at teh world thrugh red-blue filters, but no paradox at all if you understand that people respect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Here's what this vision means in practical terms for Dean Nation. I'd like to thank many of our best front-page stalwarts such as Heath and Anna and Gabriel and Trammel for their hard work here - and ask them to continue their leadership as role models in the comment threads, helping to police our community and lending their voices to the discussion. Replacing them on teh front page will be new voices, fresh ones, that will articulate positions that will challenge the old right-left dogma and instead seek to build bridges across the artificial divides.

In short, we need dialog, and we cannot achieve it whilst talking to ourselves.

I know I risk offending many in our Dean Nation community by introducing such radical change. But I want this site to never become what the old o-blog became and where DailyKos and other liberal blogs seem to be headed: an echo chamber, bereft of innovation and increasingly full of stereotype about 51% of the population that have been artificially placed on the other side of an imaginary line. We can bridge that gap. I hope you'll join me in this new experiment. We have a lot to learn.


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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.