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Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics Paperback – September 1, 2006
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"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, 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book's content even turned out better than I expected.