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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Clinton Speaks it True

Participate. Vote. Think and act progressively. Don't let the right-wing radicals deny you your American values.

Clinton and Other Democratic Leaders Urge Young Liberals to Get Involved
By Brian Faler
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, July 14, 2005; Page A04
Go to washingtonpost.com to read the full article.

Some of the biggest names in Democratic politics convened yesterday to focus on what they believe is the long-term remedy to their party's woes: cultivating a new generation of activists.

Former president Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) were the headliners among a host of operatives, writers and artists who gathered at the Washington Convention Center for a day-long series of speeches and panel discussions designed to energize about 600 visiting students.

"You don't have to wait until your party is in power to have an impact on life at home and around the world," Clinton told a hushed crowd, urging them to embrace grass-roots organizing. "This ain't supposed to be easy, and you have to work at it. I promise you our adversaries work at it."

The suspicion that the right is working harder at it, in fact, is what led the liberal Center for American Progress to organize the event. David Halperin, a former speechwriter in the Clinton White House and the conference's coordinator, estimated that conservative groups spend more than $35 million a year on such efforts. By contrast, he said, the left has invested comparatively little effort or money in cultivating the next generation of activists and would-be leaders.

"We've been on the defensive for 25 years," Halperin said. "There's been a lot of focus on the day-to-day -- just getting through the day -- without having a rollback on civil rights or environmental protections. The idea that you could do that and, at the same time, invest in the future seems a little daunting. . . . We've learned some things from what conservatives have done better, particularly in developing and communicating ideas, in promoting news leaders and in trying to bring people together who are interested in different issues but who have the same general political orientation."



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