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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, November 20, 2004


Clintonian shade of Purple

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, November 20, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Thoughtful excerpts from Bill Clinton's speech at the dedication of his Presidential Library:

I believe the job of a president is to understand and explain the time in which he serves, to set forth a vision of where we need to go and a strategy of how to get there, and then to pursue it with all its mind and heart, bending only in the face of error or new circumstances and the crisis which are unforeseen; a problem that affects all of us.

When I became president, the world was a new and very different place, as I said. And I thought about how we ought to confront it.

America has two great dominant strands of political thought -- we're represented up here on this stage -- conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barrier that are no longer needed or should never have been erected in the first place.

It seemed to me that in 1992 we needed to do both to prepare America for the 21st century: to be more conservative in things like erasing the deficit and paying down the debt and preventing crime and punishing criminals and protecting and supporting families, and enforcing things like child support laws and reforming the military to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.

And we needed to be more progressive in creating good jobs, reducing poverty, increasing the quality of public education, opening the doors of college to all, increasing access to health care, investing more in science and technology, and building new alliances with our former adversaries, and working for peace across the world and peace in America across all the lines that divide us.

CLINTON: Now, when I proposed to do both, we said that all of them were consistent with the great American values of opportunity, responsibility and community. We labeled the approach "New Democrat." It then became known as the third way, as it was embraced by progressive parties across the world.

But I liked the slogan we had way back in 1992, "Putting People First." Because, in the end, I always kept score by a simple measure: Were ordinary people better off when I stopped than when I started?

Democrats and Republicans both would be wise to remember that slogan. The Democrats have never really been able to understand how inclusive the concept of "The People" needs to be for Clintonian success to follow. And it's clear that today's GOP, in preparation to eviscerate any semblance of oversight for ethical lapses, has forgotten it entirely.

My deep personal disappointment in him aside, I still can't help but consider him the most authentically American president, genuinely committed to repesenting all of America and not just one arbitrary political shade, in modern history. Clinton was a great President because he never thought of this nation as "our team and their team" and that was deeply reflected in his policies. Clinton was the President of all of us.

and of course, he always had the best sense of humor:

Yes, this library is the symbol of a bridge, a bridge to the 21st century. It's been called one of the great achievements of the new age, and a British magazine said it looked like a glorified house trailer.


And I thought, "Well, that's about me, you know. I'm a little red and a little blue."



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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.