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Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics Hardcover – March 1, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In fact, there's something remarkably bracing about the authors' approach. The Unified Theory of Progressive Revival may remain the Holy Grail, but while pursuing it, why not start attacking the small systemic dysfunctions that cripple the movement's effectiveness?"--In These Times

"Power to the people with a political takeover plan," Los Angeles Times review by Lee Drutman-
In a given week, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga's progressive blog, Daily Kos, receives more than 3 million visits, making it one of the most widely read political blogs in the world, and earning its proprietor regular calls for advice from Democratic Party leaders. Not bad for somebody who just four years ago was a Silicon Valley dropout with no real political experience. Now Moulitsas, along with fellow blogger Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.com (the DD stands for "Direct Democracy"), has put down some thoughts in a more traditional medium -- a book.

In Crashing the Gate, the two are not shy about what they hope to accomplish: nothing but an all-out "people-powered" takeover of the Democratic Party -- which, they are firmly convinced, is the only way to take America back from the conservatives currently ruining it. "To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson," they write, "the tree of a political party must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of reformers and insiders." So begins a chapter titled "Civil War." ...

Crashing the Gate is brash and infuriating, as it should be. The progressive blogosphere is starting to feel its own strength -- in the continued growth of Web traffic, in its powerful fund-raising capacity, and in the rise of its man, Howard Dean, as Democratic National Committee chairman. As Eli Pariser of Moveon.org's political action wing wrote in December 2004 (after helping to raise a few hundred million dollars online): "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back." Crashing the Gate is a powerful salvo in that battle. And as such, it commands attention.

"The Hope of the Web," New York Review of Books, by Bill McKibben-
When, less than a decade ago, the Internet emerged as a force in most of our lives, one of the questions people often asked was: Would it prove, like TV, to be a medium mainly for distraction and disengagement? Or would its two-way nature allow it to be a potent instrument for rebuilding connections among people and organizations, possibly even renewing a sense of community? The answer is still not clear-- more people use the Web to look at unclothed young women and lose money at poker than for any other purposes. But if you were going to make a case for the Web having an invigorating political effect, you could do worse than point your browser to dailykos.com, which was launched in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.

The site, which draws more than half a million visits each day,[1] has emerged as a meeting place for a great many ordinary people (i.e., not only politicians, journalists, academic experts, issue advocates, or big donors) who want to revive the Democratic Party. Obsessed with developing strategies for defeating Republicans, the site was much involved with the campaign of Howard Dean for the presidential nomination and carrying on his forthright opposition to the Iraq war. Its sophisticated technological structure, assembled by Moulitsas, has allowed its viewers to raise money for favored politicians, rethink and debate issue positions, harass lazy or ideologically biased journalists and commentators, and even help break stories that the mainstream press managed to overlook. In doing so, it has explicitly tried to chart a new future for the Democrats--the subject of the book under review--and implicitly suggested new possibilities for the American political system that might help it break free of the grip of big money. It also raises large questions about the future of journalism. In my view, nothing more interesting has happened in American politics for many years.

From the Publisher

There's a powerful new force in the Democratic Party. People around the country are banding together to take back the people's party. Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas explain how the Republicans rose to power and what the Democrats need to do to take back Washington. This is the playbook for a new century of Democratic leadership.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931498997
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931498999
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,894,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sten A. Westgard on March 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's a great look behind the curtains of Democratic politics. It's not so much about the Republican problems - or at least that material is covered in so many books these days - but it details the peculiar weaknesses of the Democrats. I wish there were a few more details about how to cure these ills, but they are pretty obvious: more shoe leather, more Internet fund raising, etc.

Great for those who are "inside-politics" junkies, as well as those who aspire to be part of the netroots and the next wave of political power.
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Format: Hardcover
But after reading this outstanding evaluation of what ailes the Democratic Party, it is pretty hard to see what was so good about the last 30 years.

The authors do a very good job of laying out exactly what is wrong with the Party. My anger over the leaches pulling the Party down grew as I turned each page.

I am even more dtermined than ever and plan to redouble my efforts to reform this party.

The only drawback to the book is the almost complete lack of any discussion of solutions. These were peppered throughout the book as a contrast to the very real bad things going on in the party. Perhaps the authors would consider allowing several movers and shakers who are accomplishing things out there in the hinterland to add a chapter or two in the second edition to give us some sort of blueprint of how things get done.
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Format: Hardcover
My copy of Crashing the Gate arrived on a Saturday afternoon. I picked it up late that night and found it hard to put down - and ended up staying up till 5AM.

Other reviews have pretty well laid out the topics covered. I'd add that the historical information on the Conservative movement and the rise of left wing netroots via the Dean Campaign was interesting, a lot of it I knew, but a lot of it I didn't.

The strongest portion of the book (which I went back and read a second time) was the section on Media consultants and their roll in the failure of Democratic politics. Not because it tells us who to blame, but how we might do better. The thing that hit home for me is that the Republicans have a huge advantage over us in advertising because they have figured out that a political ad that pulls on emotional strings is much more effective than trying to layout a policy position or quote statistics. I think Jerome and Markos nailed that.
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Format: Hardcover
I will admit that I am a partisan and have been a member of the DailyKos website since its inception. However, I have not always agreed with Kos and was somewhat skeptical about the fact that he was writing a book. It looked to me like maybe he and Jerome were trying to cash in on the popularity of their blogs. Nonetheless, I supported their efforts and bought a copy of the book. I took it with me on the subway to read for the last week or so, figuring that if it were a huge waste of time, no big loss.

So I was hugely and pleasantly suprised to see not only that it covers a lot of new ground, but also that it was a fast, entertaining, and enlightening read. I was particularly intrigued by their discussion of the Republicans' lead over the Democrats in data mining and in other structural issues relating to campaigning. I also liked their concise coverage of the history of the netroots over the last couple of years. Although I have had personal involvement in this, I have not had the opportunity or the inclination to sit back and think about the trajectory of this mini-revolution.

Bottom line: I would strongly recommend this book to anybody who is interested in either political blogging or the history and future of the Democratic party. If you are not interested in either politics or blogging, do not bother.
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Format: Hardcover
Even though the book is targeted toward Democratic party folks, all 3rd parties and activists who come from every point on the political spectrum can feed off this book equally. Crashing the Gate champions outsiders, grassroots efforts, common sense, and a model of a true Democratic Republic that the Bush Republicans have trashed in favor of a Unitarian Executive that uses Congress and our Elections Process as footstools. Crashing the Gate will make you cry, make you think, and then get you motivated to remove the D.C. insiders that are cashing in on politics at the expense of our freedoms!
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Format: Hardcover
In the preface to their new book, "Crashing the Gates," Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga acknowledge that last fall they took a long look at everything they had put together for their book to date, realized they were lost, chucked it all and started over.

After reading the book I can understand what fostered this sentiment. They had taken on the extraordinary difficult task of wrestling all the flailing tentacles of the right wing machine, as well as the horrible legacy of the past four years of George Bush's imperial reign, and tried to hone it down to a simple, direct message that was focused through the lens of their formidable online experience to forge a blueprint for the future of netroots activism. That they would suddenly find themselves sitting in a pile of unwieldy information is no surprise. That they would have the courage to throw it all out, regroup and refine their narrative to a 183 page dagger that cuts to the heart of the system most certainly is.

The book is a gem, a must-read for anyone contemplating the future of online activism, a subject that is certainly consuming pages and pages of blog space these days. Their outline of the extremely deep and well-developed GOP message apparatus is fascinating, and their examination of it as it worked to shape public perceptions around many events that should have played well for the Democrats is both enlightening and daunting.

But perhaps of even greater concern is their depiction of the DC Democratic consultant/interest group nexus that could really not do a better job of keeping their party in the minority if they tried.
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