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Progressive Values Stories: Jim Dean on Responsibility and Participation

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This is supposed to be a participatory democracy and if we're not in there participating then the people that will manipulate and exploit the system will step in there.  George Takei

In this second part of my interview with Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America, Jim talks about the Progressive Values of responsibility and participation. Progressives are now standing up to participate in and take responsibility over the political process.   Democracy for America helps in supporting these Progressive Values of Responsibility and Participation. 


Jim Dean

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Progressive Values Stories: Jim Dean on Responsibility and Participation

I’m Jim Dean.  I’m the chair of Democracy for America. I think that for myself and for our community, the concept of progressive means the concept of citizens being in charge of the government, of reform in government.  And when we can talk about the values of fiscal responsibility, of getting out of Iraq, of health care for every single American. 

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Those are important, but the real driver of this in our view is citizens taking control.  And also responsibility over the political process to make this happen.  And we believe that that is the way that these challenges can be resolved.

It is again citizens being in charge of the government.  I think that the reason that we are being challenged right now on these issues is because the culture of incumbency is what runs our government, and we need a culture of activism to run our government.

It’s not whether somebody’s been an incumbent or not, it’s the mindset that they have going along and getting along, expressing all of the constituency interaction as being part of their interaction with lobbyists instead of with the voters.

And one of the things that so great about the Democratic Primary is that a lot of the special interests and even the Beltway pundits are not in charge of it.  The voters are in charge of it.  And that really expresses my feeling about progressive more than anything else.

Right here in California, a number of folks in our community have taken it upon themselves to not just work on campaigns, to not just register voters, but to take a position of responsibility in their local parties.

That is very difficult to do when you have a job, when you have people you are trying to take care of, when it’s the important thing that makes the world go round in democracies.

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So we’re taking not only decisions of responsibility in the party and doing all of those things and being in charge of all of these things that heretofore was always done by long-term party insiders. 

You’re taking the party back to the voters and doing that across the country.  But they’re also running for office, which is very important.  They are getting involved in leadership positions and advocacy.

In previous generations, the activists threw stones from the outside.  And if the issue worked, or even it didn’t work, it would disappear for awhile.  And now what we’re seeing is less of that.

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