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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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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Ideas vs Logistics

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, January 25, 2005 permalink View blog reactions
I have been reflecting more on why I think Dean is a better choice for DNC Chair than Smon Rosenberg - and why I fully understand why Trippi could not endorse Dean. It boils down to ideas vs logistics.

During the campaign, Dean was in many ways the ideas visionary, and Trippi the logistics visionary. The reason there is a cult of personality around Dean is because he spoke plainly about what he believed and those beliefs were grounded in common sense, and a real belief in the power of the ordinary citizen to effect change. Given that he was governor of the state where Ethan Allen once marshaled his boys, I think that Dean represented a raw form of the American political tradition, one that we haven't seen in a century or two and thus was all the more powerful in its impact.

What I am getting at is that Dean attracted me long before I'd heard of Trippi (as the first post at Dean Nation plainly shows). Was he ever really Presidential material? I think that the definition of Presidential material has decayed - and to make attaining the Presidency possible for men like Dean again, we need to rectify that. Read on...

So, I am for Dean for DNC Chair because I think he can effect the kind of change upon the political system that will bring that raw, citizen-first political tradition back to the fore. The DNC, remade as Dean has proposed into greater emphasis at the local and state level, is more uniquely suited to this task than the GOP, which is a strictly top-down monoparty structure. While Simon Rosenberg has great ideas, I don't see in him the same revolutionary spirit. I see Simon Rosenberg as a Trippi kind of guy, not a Dean kind of guy- and so I think that with Dean as DNC Chair, and Simon in a supporting role, we can get teh best of both worlds and transform state politics the way that Dean and Tripp transformed presidential politics.

If Simon gets the nod, then there will be reform, but not transformation. The Trippi guys can't achieve that on their own - they don't inspire the cult of personality which motivates the common man to think, "hey, it really is about ME.". It's not surprising at all that Trippi endorses Simon because he never really grokked that Dean himself was the inspiration; to Trippi, it was all about the netroots and the mechanics. Trippi dismisses Dean in the first chapter of his book with his Iowa anecdote; he never really saw how central Dean was to the revolution.

So, it's the transformation towards citizen politics (as opposed to politician politics) that I want to see. Dean would have been a fine President, but he can't get there until *after* that transformation is complete. He may never be President (and I'm already leaning Hillary for 2008, so Dean as DNC Chair also makes any divisive competition between them largely a moot issue) but as DNC Chair he will make it possible for men (or women) like him to someday again be President.


I could not possibly add to your comments. Transformation towards citizen politics is precisely the point.


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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.