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Netroots Politics 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-people dept.
Michael Gracie writes "I picked up "Crashing The Gate - Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics" from the DailyKos website, albeit apprehensively. The Kos community has a "reputation," and some would suspect that any printed material associated with the site would parallel what is said there. Nevertheless, I was curious to hear what Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga would say, knowing they wouldn't have to deal with the instant (and often aggressive) feedback the "Kossacks" dispense. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised." Read the rest of Michael's review.
Crashing The Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics
author Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga
pages 196
publisher Chelsea Green
rating 8
reviewer Michael Gracie
ISBN 1931498997
summary A must read for constituents on both sides of the fence


As background, the authors are no strangers to the Internet or its political enablement. Armstrong is a household name in the arena, having started one of the first political weblogs, MyDD.com, and assisting with the Howard Dean campaign's blogging efforts. Zuniga is just as well known, if not more so. He founded DailyKos, which is likely the most popular political group weblog site in existence. In other words, these guys should know their stuff, and for the most part they seem to.

As pure reading material goes, the book ("Progressive Partner Special Limited Edition") is precisely 196 pages of 100% post-consumer waste recycled, old-growth forest-free paper, including 14 pages of reference notes and indices. The type is large, well spaced, and generally easy on the eyes. I knocked this puppy off over three afternoons, including note taking.

While I didn't fact check every line of the book, what I received was a pretty thorough, analysis-driven opinion of what has gone wrong with Democratic Party politics. It starts with a definition of "the enemy," the "cons" of the Republican political thought process. Corporate insiders, right-wing think tank graduates, religious leaders, and old-school mindsets are overstuffed in a barrel. What pops out is the realization that the Republican Party is less a tank mowing over everything in its path than a loosely bound, fragile coalition that has succeeded not by Borg-like assimilation, but through sheer patience and will.

Onward to the "failing" side, in which Armstrong and Moulitsas slice and dice their political party in what can only be described as a semi-hostile, scathing rebuke of the disorganization, the infighting, and the selfishness which has kept it divided. The authors are, however, quick to point at two examples of success (in Colorado and Montana during 2004). In those cases, campaigns took decidedly different approaches, but one thing seemed certain - anything BUT the status quo could work.

Diving deeper into the situation, "Crashing The Gate" now hits the hot button that is going to piss a lot of Progressives off - the wholesale pilfering of campaign dollars by political/media consultants, who enrich themselves fabulously while using worn out techniques that lead to failure after failure. The D.C. power base, showing no inclination to stop the madness, is not forgotten either. If any one point becomes perfectly clear to readers, it will be that big money has and is wasted in extraordinary magnitudes.

At this point, J & M point to McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, as the tipping in the power struggle over Progressive direction. McCain-Feingold redirected high-dollar contributions from direct-to-politicians pockets into 527 organizations that cannot "explicitly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for federal office." What it really did, according the authors, is force Democrats to look to "the people." Numbers no longer followed dollar signs - they had to follow individual support roll counts. Then Howard Dean captured the Internet's imagination.

The authors give Howard Dean a lot of credit for initiating the "grassroots movement," something I found unsurprising considering they were in the middle of it. By engaging a myriad of internet tools managed by foot soldiers, Dean quickly proved McCain-Feingold naysayers wrong. The Democratic stronghold eventually trounced Dean - they took it upon themselves to define him as "unelectable," and turn Dean's overzealousness into perceived nuttiness. It was a concerted attack, and not without casualties. First and foremost, John Kerry lost the Presidential election, and that is where I inferred that the tables really turned. While "wounds were being licked" offline, Internet activists maintained engagement as thought the battle wasn't over. As described, after Terry McAuliffe (Chairman of the DNC) departed, the bloggers made their presence hard to ignore, uncovering dirt on hand-selected McAuliffe successors, one after the other. Howard Dean maintained his loyalty to those folks, and the end result...he is now Chair of the Party.

The last chapter, entitled "Inside The Gate," follows up on some successes for the Democratic Party in places like Montana and Virginia, and infers that "grassroots" campaigning, not "netroots" organization, was the primary motivating factor. In many campaigns, however, "netroots" did play a role, and even when losses were incurred, the efforts succeeded in draining opposing candidates of funds and energy while giving good reason for progressives to relish in their newfound power. Fair warning - the net was not to be ignored.

No review of a political reference would be complete without some conclusion for those so inclined. Rather than air my personal views, I will provide some perspective-based alternatives:

A) If you are anything close to Progressive (which I suspect many readers will be), you may at first feel a bit betrayed by your leaders, and certainly enraged by the pilfering of contributions that came from your pocketbook. Your suspicion that what is being suggested is emulation of the long-term strategies of the enemy is not unfounded. Crashing The Gates sometimes infers just that, albeit with a bit of a "net twist." Be patient until the end - you may wind up wanting to blog for your favorite local candidates - but it won't be an easy road. I'd say I concur with the authors that there is no short-path to election success, no matter the effort - the authors are making no promises, and that is refreshing from any set of written words deemed political. And be forewarned - what led to victory in a particular place and particular situation, might not work the next time. I interpreted that by reading between the lines.

B) If you lean right you will feel warm (and smug) over your Party's triumphs, and a little confused as to why someone would so openly lay out a potential roadmap for defeating you. You may be inclined to read the book again, just to make sure you have a game plan to thwart any such attempts. Alternatively, you might brush off any thoughts of a grassroots movement ever having a chance of taking your team to the mat. You have a "big machine" on your side, one constructed over decades - how could any grassroots effort put a dent in it? This reader, having a meager understanding of how "new media" communications spreads, says the latter take might not be a wise one. Conservatives have their pundits, but they should ask themselves whether they could engage armies of them.

C) If you sit in the middle, a most likely social liberal and fiscal conservative, I'd say you may still feel a bit lost. You have choices: go the route of the ultra-organized "idea generators," but risk more betrayal on the fiscal end while you turn blue over the social fanaticism; or, you can bet on those who still haven't gotten their act together, but have a lot of momentum, gained recently, in the new media realm. Yes, the progressives have a "new machine," but can they effectively control it as it grows? The conservatives have certainly proven they can steer theirs, and it is anything but small. Either way, you'll solidify your previous view that politics is about big money, intensive recruitment, and, ultimately, some form of indoctrination. You might not exactly get the "warm-fuzzies" if you fancy yourself an independent thinker.

I said my satisfaction with the read contained some caveats. It did, and they affect my rating of the book as such.

1) I found the historical elements of the book the very compelling - again, while I didn't check facts, I didn't feel I needed to. The first couple of chapters were relatively unbiased - at times I almost felt like the authors were glorifying Republican efforts. Then, wham, they actually say Republican strategies are "brilliant," while describing their party's entitlement participation philosophy (meaning, one should be happy to have a job on a Democratic campaign, even if you electricity just got shut off) in comparison to the well paid, constant grooming and care that Republican "students" usually received.

2) I was hoping for a complete separation between the web diatribe the authors are associated with, and their view to initiate change through hardcopy publication. Unfortunately, I found at least one element of major distraction, on pages 114 through 118, which referenced events regarding politically motivated compensation for both old and new media input. It hinted, unnecessarily, of some bitterness, while I would rather have heard a token "Oh well, that is how the game is played." The section in question was hard to shake - it followed me for the last sixty or so pages. Additional anecdotes describing "normal, sane" candidates having the ability to win elections left me chuckling a few times as well, meaning I had some difficulty disassociating the authors with some of what I have read at DailyKos.

3) The title conflicted with some of the nuances within. For someone sitting on the fence (as described above), I thought the authors would have tried to harder to convince that the supposed "progressive revolution" isn't just more of the same. The dollar signs strewn throughout made me think more about all the money that politics engulfs (even if it is raised by citizen journalists) than the power any individuals have to instigate real change. I sometimes felt that the subtitle could have included "people-powered fundraising."

4) As the authors point out (as excuse or not), the manuscript was scrapped late in the process. They started from scratch, under considerable time pressure, and I can respect that. In my eyes (assuming it is true), they scored some points here for admitting the need to start over, and re-working on the fly.

I know Slashdot readers have their opinion of bloggers in general, and it is not always the most favorable. However, as a consistent reader of both Slashdot and several major political blogs I have to say "Crashing The Gate" is a heck of a job from a couple of "bloggers." I am now intensely curious to see if Glenn Reynolds's "An Army of Davids" paints a different (and/or alternative) picture of the "netroots" phenomena.

As a final offering, Armstrong and Zuniga note that the world of progressive bloggers could already be four to five million strong, with extraordinary growth predicted for the future. In addition, they offered that anyone, anywhere could contribute. But, a democratic system requires mutual acceptance, healthy debate, and a willingness to accept a role alongside, not hands above, the rest. The online world already seems to be straying from those core tenets, with clubby recruitment gatherings, A-list bloggers and too much crosstalk. Without some correction, I wonder whether the growing political force the authors portray can sustain itself long term, or whether new media will turn out like old media - sensationalist, untrustworthy, and begging to be ignored."


You can purchase Crashing The Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Netroots Politics

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  • Re Subjectivity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:06PM (#14877429) Homepage
    The Kos community has a "reputation," and some would suspect that any printed material associated with the site would parallel what is said there
    Yes, they do. But I know of no news or opinion service that doesn't have a reputation. Many don't trust Fox because they are to the right. Many don't trust the NY Times because they are to the left.
    Whatever we write, no matter how much we try to be 100% objective, will be subjective due to our own experiences, culture etc.
    That being said- Kos is not someone I always agree with- but he does show that many Democrats are not liberal hollywood weenies. Many Dems (like my grandfather and Kos) are Vets. I don't consider myslelf Dem or Republican, but thats another story....
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The NYT SAT on enough Iraq war lies stories until after the 2004 elections to help get GWB reelected. I wouldn't classify them as "left wing". They did it *on purpose*.

      And for that matter, the only left wing and right wing in the US is an artificial construct. We have two major parties, BOTH of which cater to the large transnationals and globalist "the rich get richer and more powerful" forces as their primary focus. Any "grassroots" noises they make are to keep the rabble amused and to stop them looking be
      • Why isn't this guy/gal modded up? Because the post cuts right into the heart of discussed book: Democrats fighting the superiorly organised Republican machine through net-roots? Whatever they do, it's going to be fighting the symptoms, not the causes, of everything that's not going right in the US of A. And that's the 2-party system that caters to money.

        The whole political encouragement/empowerment system that's currently in place favors money, and the larger the sum the better. Money, and looking slightl

    • Re:Re Subjectivity (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *
      > Whatever we write, no matter how much we try to be 100% objective, will be subjective
      > due to our own experiences, culture etc.

      Which is why I don't mind bias as long as it is out in the open. My objection to the NYT, for example, is that they insist they aren't biased. Dailykos or Rush Limbaugh don't bother me because both are honest about what they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Heck, even Fox is pretty open about the fact they lean right but make sure they let the other side get in
    • Re:Re Subjectivity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NoMaster (142776) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:16PM (#14879033) Homepage Journal
      Many don't trust the NY Times because they are to the left.
      Your country needs to get out more...

      Seriously, from an outsider's POV, the biggest problem with American politics is the hysterical 'left = teh evil' and 'anyone left of the Democrats is a filthy rotten subversive baby-eating pinko Communist!' mentality, fostered by over half a century of Cold War based propaganda.

      Well, that and the black:white one-dimensional political spectrum you've created for yourselves. You have a society where the word 'liberal' is used as an epiphet, and even those who consider themselves to be such in your limited political spectrum try to deny that they are...

      (clue: the Democrats wouldn't be considered to be the left of the political spectrum anywhere, except America. Possibly in other minor hard right-wing states - except most of those are so right wing they'd probably consider Republicans to be left-wing too, or at least 'not right-wing enough'.)

  • by bwd (936324) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:06PM (#14877433) Homepage
    It looks like the scope of the book is much too narrow to infer any type of trend. Thomas Friedman's book The Lexus and the Olive Tree gives a much more macro view of the democratization of information and the impact the internet has on government. Although a bit dated, its scope is much wider and thus its easier to pick out trends than it is in this book.
    • Information in politics and government has always evolved. It would be interesting to study the parallels between the internet and the pamphlets of the revolutionary period.
      Any trends may best be viewed in hindsight however, as the way information is distributed changes so rapidly.
  • Review of the review (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:09PM (#14877476) Homepage Journal


    As a lover of the free market and someone who has seen repeatedly that all politicians lie, and no politician will run government the way you want it run, I am constantly surprised by the Progressive movement. I have so many friends who label themselves Progressive, when they don't realize that the Progressive ideaology is no different than the political agenda of both the Democrats and the Republicans: to control others against their will in hopes of creating a better world. The reality of any political agenda is to control the many in order to give more power to the few, usually the friends and family (the cronies).

    Here's my review of the review:

    assisting with the Howard Dean campaign's blogging efforts.

    I'm sure Howard Dean had time to blog himself. Most political blogs are carefully crafted and planned by the campaign crew -- it is no different than a speech given by a politician: they usually haven't read it before hand.

    precisely 196 pages of 100% post-consumer waste recycled, old-growth forest-free paper

    Which means the paper costs way more to make than regular forest paper. Considering that this cost means more people had to work on it, more air conditions were run, more people had to drive to work and more buildings were needed, I'm not sure how environmentally friendly the book is. I do know that Boise-Cascade has a great tree-planting policy, so I prefer to buy non-recycled paper. In fact, I never buy recycled products unless there is no alternative.

    While I didn't fact check every line of the book,

    I check every fact because I don't trust political books.

    what I received was a pretty thorough, analysis-driven opinion of what has gone wrong with Democratic Party politics.

    In my experience, the Democrats and Republicans both have the same problem: they don't follow through with their promises. When they do pass a law that they promised to pass, along with it comes 1000 other pork barrel projects. Usually the law is so modified from the promise that it has unintended consequences that affect us all in a negative way.

    Corporate insiders, right-wing think tank graduates, religious leaders, and old-school mindsets are overstuffed in a barrel.

    That's an interesting attack there. Almost every single Democrat in federal office is a corporate insider as well. Instead of being think tank graduates, most Democrat politicians are graduates of a college where the mindset is more socialist than Democratic. Don't get me started on old-school mindsets -- the Republicans definitely have forgotten the old school that they came from.

    the infighting, and the selfishness which has kept it divided.

    Of course there is infighting, you're talking about accepting a job that gives you incredible power over the masses.

    campaign dollars by political/media consultants, who enrich themselves fabulously while using worn out techniques that lead to failure after failure.

    Consider that the campaign finance system was broken by any time of reform or regulation (which created these consultants and it is now these consultants to fight for even more reform to give them even more power)

    The D.C. power base, showing no inclination to stop the madness, is not forgotten either. If any one point becomes perfectly clear to readers, it will be that big money has and is wasted in extraordinary magnitudes.

    The big money would not be wasted if campaign finance was deregulated, and Congress and the President were returned to the minimal powers as set forth by the Constitution in very specific ways. Destroy the power of the federal government, and you'll see the big money disappear.

    redirected high-dollar contributions from direct-to-politicians pockets into 527 organizations that cannot "explicitly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate for federal office."

    Actually, McCain-Feingold was written specifically to keep incumbents in powe
    • I'm sorry you got modded down so much. IMHO it is plus 5 content, and the other insulting replies to your post are way out of line. The response saddens me, but is not unexpected. You see, the politicians now know that they need to get their propaganda out online or they're never gonna make it, but when it comes to arguing on merrits and facts they just can't, so instead they try to insult, silence, and gang up on you.

      The real story is not how technology is transforming democracy, it's how it's bypassing
    • I'm unclear how deregulating campaign finance will cause the problem of big money in politics. I agree that Mc-F isn't the solution.. but I really don't understand how you think deregulation will magically fix things.. even if all power was moved locally, money is still there.

      As far as social programs being born locally.. certainly an interesting ideal.. however insurance (and this is what most social programs are) really only starts working well when you have a large pool to smooth out the risks and use g
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:27PM (#14877629)
    For someone sitting on the fence (as described above), I thought the authors would have tried to harder to convince that the supposed "progressive revolution" isn't just more of the same. The dollar signs strewn throughout made me think more about all the money that politics engulfs (even if it is raised by citizen journalists) than the power any individuals have to instigate real change. I sometimes felt that the subtitle could have included "people-powered fundraising."

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. Money is the root of all evil, etc. etc. etc.

    FIRST and FOREMOST, take out the corporate money, you will get better leaders that aren't solely out to make a buck for their buddies who run the corporations and the military-industrial complex.
    But in a 'capitalist' economy and consumerist-society, does anyone actually believe that will happen or even work?
    True Progressives do not have a voice in today's government - they are only heard in obscure, online blogs.
    And if you want to initiate REAL change and start a 3rd party, FORGET ABOUT IT!
    The current government will make rules to prevent you from even getting a 3rd party on the ballot.
    • Have you ever voted? If you look at a presidential ballot, there a ton of people to vote for. It was around 12 last I remember, Anywhere from republican and Democrat to the Communist Party to the Prohibition Party. There are plenty of choices but they aren't very organized. That and you have party voters. I know plenty of people who will vote straight ticket no matter who the candidate it, Republican and Democrat.
      • by Phoenix Rising (28955) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:31PM (#14878684) Homepage
        Even with all those ballot choices, minor parties have it rough. They have to qualify for that ballot slot, in every state, every election cycle; major parties are automatically "in"; if Perot's Reform Party hadn't derailed, they might have lasted long enough to get in on the fun, but even the perennial parties like Natural Law, Constitution, Libertarian, and Green have to go through the rigamarole every year or two with the current laws.

        Third party candidates rarely qualify for Federal matching funds for the Presidential race. Third party candidates don't usually get their candidates on every state's ballot. And it's nigh on impossible to build up a third party's base to the point where they can challenge on a major ticket. Bernie Sanders is the only elected Independent in a national office (Jeffords was elected as a Republican before defecting in 2001).

        And the reason many of the parties can't build up their base is that, come election time, no-one wants to vote for a candidate when another candidate - not quite as good but from a major party - might lose because of the vote split. We need to institute Instant Runoff or Condorcet voting if we want third parties to thrive. And we need to make the tournament field a bit easier to qualify for on a long-term basis; the parties I mentioned above have been around for a long time; they deserve better than they get.
    • By the numbers: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:53PM (#14877853)
      #1. Repair the voting system. If you cast a vote, it must be counted. Until the votes of the people are counted, there won't be any reform.

      #2. If you can't vote, you can't contribute. No corporations giving money to candidates or their election funds. Only people can vote and only people should be contributing money.

      #3. End all PAC/lobby contributions. If a PAC wants to convince a Congress Critter to do something, that PAC can send a brochure or booklet or study. But it must be printed. That is all that they can do. No trips. No dinners. No gifts.

      Once you've managed those, the people will have a CHANCE of taking back their government. Right now it is run by corporations, for corporations.
    • And how do you expect to eliminate corporations promoting their own ends? In some industries (banking comes to mind) top executives are expected to contribute to the favored parties. In fact, their salaries are "adjusted" to accomondate this. And since the contributions are "personal", they're perfectly legal.

      Or how about non-contributions, like ads "Paid for by the Citizens to Reelect" fund?

      Personally, the only way I see to eliminate corporate conributions is to eliminate ALL contributions. Perhaps if

    • I almost agree with your sentiments. I think they demand the following question, however:

      Is there anything anyone can do about anything anywhere? If so, why not do it?
    • I was at a town meeting organized by my local Congressional rep. Listening to the people at the meeting, I realized the biggest problem our country faces is ourselves. Literally, every single person who got up and spoke wanted money for some reason or another. One guy was a postal worker who wanted social security payments because he'd worked the minimum # of quarters to qualify for social security. Another was a school teacher who wanted a bigger pension. Another was a parent with a child with some brain d
  • Politician's pay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Yoik (955095) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:33PM (#14877678) Journal
    One problem with politics is that there needs to be some return for competent people who work in the field. Otherwise it gets dominated by thieves and obsessives. Right now the thieves are winning.

    The big challenge is finding a way to offer a decent lifestyle to an honest, sane politician.

    The book seems to be complaining about one system for doing that.
  • Success... (Score:5, Informative)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:34PM (#14877680) Homepage Journal
    Didn't all 17 or 18 of the political candidates that Kos openly endorsed lose? I'm not sure what in this kind of track record would qualify Markos to write a book on the subject...
    • by sheldon (2322) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:43PM (#14877766)
      But I think it kind of misses the point of what kos is about.

      It's not so much about winning elections, but rather changing the dynamics of the debate. Changing the dynamics of the debate is a longer term strategy than just winning an election.

      While I haven't read this book, my impression is that is what it is about. Not on how to win elections, but rather on how to influence direction.
      • oh, to have mod points today...
      • Keep dreaming. (Score:2, Interesting)

        Doing that would mean preaching to people outside the choir---eg, persuading moderate American intellectuals that your policies are preferable to those of the other party. Jerking knees (or something worse) on the web seems unlikely to help.

        But who knows, I haven't read this book, maybe it's all about how to turn their site into a bad-ass propaganda machine.

    • His stated strategy in helping the Democraticis in general is to focus on supporting candidates in districts that are very difficult to win.
      • Then did he, MyDD, MoveOn.org and others try to unseat a Democratic encumbant in Texas at the primary level? If his stated goals are to help the Dems in races they traditionally don't do very well in why was he wasting time and doners' cash on an intra-party squabble?
        • I don't follow very closely, and I haven't heard of the race you're talking about, but the first thing that comes to mind would be "to put a better candidate in office."
        • Re:Success... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Malacandra (585921)
          It's called "principle". The race in Texas was between an incredibly regressive incumbent who runs away from his party... and endorses the Republican agenda.

          And yes, Kos has targeted tough races so the fact that there's been a lot of losses isn't unanticipated.
          On the other hand, he has helped win some races, too. Ask Stephanie Herseth if the netroots helped her campaign.
          • That's fine. I have no problem with that. I just flies in the face of the parent poster's claim that Kos' mandate is to help Dem candidates in red states which explains DailyKos' terrible batting average. Kos is going to throw his support around candidates he feels are worthy of his support. Thus far, he's been damn successful in helping raise funds and awareness, but it hasn't translated into electorial success. It may in the future; then again, it may not.
    • the dude almost always goes for the underdog grassroots candidates. i mean, come on, did you really expect delay to get overturned in the last election? but kos backed a dem candidate anyway, and now she has name recognition and backers. he doesn't tend to back the big money business dems who typically are more likely to win.

    • Re:Success... (Score:5, Informative)

      by _KiTA_ (241027) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:40PM (#14878287) Homepage
      Not exactly. Kos forced the other side to spend (some would say "waste") resources on "sure bet" areas, that suddenly were competitive in and in play. In this, which was his state goal, he succeeded admirably.

      The "Kos endorses no one but losers" is a meme that comes from sites such as RedState and the like, and it used as political FUD to try and detract from pretty much any discussion about Kos -- even the supposedly liberal New York Times has ran hit pieces with this FUD in it.

      The Democrats seem to feel that they can ignore 90% of the country, as long as they win the swing states. That any state that's "too red" is a lost cause and to give it up. Dean and Kos believe that tying up resources in these "too red" states is a way to make sure the Republicans can't flood "too blue" states with money to win elections.

      Kos has proven, quite effectively, that even "lost causes" should be fought, tooth and nail. These rather unknown canidates were going up against very well known and well connected incumbants, with almost no help from the official Democrats, and still managed very strong showings. Not bad for a blogger, I have to say.
      • Re:Success... (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Democrats seem to feel that they can ignore 90% of the country, as long as they win the swing states.

        Please note that in 2004, Kerry almost completely ignored Middle America, running a coastal campaign. He spent almost all his time in the Blue States, preaching to the choir, then wondered why only the choir voted for him and the rest of the congregation didn't.

    • Barry Goldwater lost. A whole slew of conservative candidates lost a lot of elections before they even got to that point, despite fervent conservative activism. Despite that, I think a lot of people would be interested in what the conservative activists of the time had to say about what they were doing. For more, try Rick Perlstein's Before the Storm.
    • Re:Success... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phoenix Rising (28955)
      And how many times did the Republicans fail back in the good old days of Democratic Party dominance? How many times did they have to put candidates up in order to change the debate in the GOP before they succeeded?

      The Kos dozen were mostly underdogs to begin with in 2004 (with some exceptions, like Obama). The Democratic Party is waking up to the fact that it's ineffective at electing candidates outside of its strongholds. In many states, the local parties are in disarray or are non-existant. Kos, Howar
  • Jerome & Markos (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheGrapeApe (833505) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:39PM (#14877724)
    Let me say that I think the "net effect" that these guys have on the political & media scene in America is, in fact, a very _very_ positive one; They have played a critical role in bringing America back to the yellow-fedora-wearing-"get-the-story-at-any-cost" style of journalism that the mainstream media has been denying the public for a long time. Granted- most of their stories lean to the left, but the right has the "Drudge Report" to balance that out. So, insofar as they act as "channels" for information, they are very valuable: They've played an important role in making sure that the MSM doesn't "pin" stories like the Abramoff/Delay/Culture-of-Corruption stories under the public's radar.

    As political analysts? Take it with a grain..no, a _block_ of salt. It's ironic that this topic would get posted today...as it marks the 0-for-20 record for them in backing House candidates (they couldn't even get Cuellar [TX-28] into a stinking _runoff_!). They want to harp and harp about how bad the "party establishment" is...and they propose that they should be the shining leaders of this movement to replace that establishment...But it's hard to buy their arguments when their record is as poor as it has been. They are kelp being tossed around in the waves of American politics. They might like to think that they are making those waves - and I'm sure their book contains all manner of self-congratulating passages telling the reader how they think they did that - but they aren't. If you are reading this article - Congratulations! You have a better record at supporting democratic candidates than either of them do!! But if you want to get a book that tells you why their "New Establishment" is so much better than the ones put together by Democrats _who actually got elected at some point_, then go pick it up at your local book store.
    • Re:Jerome & Markos (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mykej (33237)
      You have to look at the 0-20 record in context though. They've sought out races in which there was no outside support. The DCCC is horrible about writing off races far too quickly. Markos and Jerome seem to believe that campaigns aren't about going for the sure things, they're about you know, campaigning. Trying to change minds. It doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen in one or two cycles.
    • It's ironic that this topic would get posted today...as it marks the 0-for-20 record for them in backing House candidates (they couldn't even get Cuellar [TX-28] into a stinking _runoff_!).

      Actually they were backing his opponent, Ciro Rodriguez. Here is a link to the DailyKos post mortem:

      http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/8/125826/ 7694 [dailykos.com]
  • "Progressive" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:39PM (#14877730) Homepage
    How is it that people who prefer big, tax-supported bureaucracies that manage a significant amount of public and private life are called progressive? This is what's so ironic about my geeks and nerds. They can see the obvious fatal flaw in a Windows NT domain and the centralization that it brings to a network topology, but they cannot see the even greater flaw in directing the economic output and general government of a country from a single point, often the central government.

    There is nothing progressive about having a general preference for state controls over the people and the economy. It's a reactionary fear that somewhere, somehow someone might say, do or produce something that others might not like or that might make them happy.

    You know who was a true progressive? John Locke, not Noam Chomsky or any other leftwing hack. John Locke was the first person in the modern world to stand up and say, who the hell do you think you are to boss everyone around like you're an emissary from the divine? Divine right to rule, rule by the mob, the proletarian revolution, they're all descended from the old idea that some people are born to control others.

    Liberals, in the classical sense, were the first ones in modern history to overturn all of that, which is why Marx hated liberalism. Most of what "progressives" stand for is just another way to tear down the individual and elevate the group. How that's different from our ancestors' tribalist tendencies is beyond me. You want progress? Move away from tribalist notions of what the group means toward a modern notion which is a freely chosen, non-coercive relationship.
    • Re:"Progressive" (Score:5, Informative)

      by Photon Ghoul (14932) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:49PM (#14877823)
      Noam Chomsky

      Just to be clear, Chomsky is neither "liberal" nor pro-"big, tax-supported bureaucracies". He's an anarchist. That means a distinct lack of "big, tax-supported bureaucracies".

      Right-wing hacks typically lump him in with the left-wing ones simply because he's uses a critic's eye when looking at the past and present actions of the U.S.
      • Re:"Progressive" (Score:3, Informative)

        by Valdrax (32670)
        To be more technical, I'd put Chomsky firmly in the corner of the anarcho-syndicalist. He distrusts all top-down structures, from government to corporations, and supports just enough government to prevent the private sector from turning into top-down fiefdoms.
    • Strawman much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nightsweat (604367) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:52PM (#14877851)
      Very nice charicature of a party that in no way resembles the Democrats.

      Over the last fifteen years, which party was responsible for most of the cuts in government and which was responsible for most of the expansion of government? Which party had a surplus and which has record deficits? Which is surveilling you in direct opposition to laws passed to prevent warrantless surveillance and which party is fighting that surveillance?

      Time you reconciled your perceptions with the realities.
      • And who was pushing for socialized healthcare, carnivore, had to be coerced into accepting welfare reform and oversaw a DoJ that twice in a few years time had major, violent confrontations with American citizens that ended in innocent civilians getting killed by carless federal agents? Bill Clinton, a democrat. Did you know that David Koresh, the leader at Waco, used to go for a walk into town about 4 days a week and that law enforcement knew this at the time? They didn't arrest him because they wanted a co
        • Again, you misrepresent Democrats. Show me where in the Democratic platform [democrats.org] they are calling for the end of private firearm ownership or thought crimes?

          Just because people who call themselves Democrats call for such silliness does not mean that it is the Party position.

          A cite for your Koresh claims would be appreciated.
        • by Zwack (27039) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @05:14PM (#14879016) Homepage Journal
          You claim to be a "liberal" and then you claim to be a "Libertarian"...

          Which is it to be? There is a distinction between the two (and "libertine" if you want to go that far)...

          I have to ask someone like you just "WTF" is wrong with "socialised healthcare"...

          I've lived in the UK under socalised healthcare and about 30% of my gross salary went in taxes and National Insurance payments. These pay for health care and social security and the like...

          I've also lived in the US under privatised healthcare (actually I work for a healthcare provider) and about 30% of my gross salary goes in taxes and Private Health Insurance payments... These pay for the same sorts of things but only cover me and my family. As I work for a non-profit healthcare organisation I also know how many millions that we put aside every year to pay for the charity cases that don't have insurance... And you know where that money comes from? From people who CAN pay. So, while we don't have a socialised healthcare system here what we do have is a system that encourages people not to go to the doctor until it's an emergency at which point it costs more to solve the problem and the people who are paying for insurance are subsidising those that can't afford it.

          Now please take your "I'm a Liberal Libertarian and I hate socialised healthcare" crap and shove it where the sun doesn't shine. (Yes, that would be that valley in the Rimtops...)

          Z.
      • I don't think parent was talking about Ds and Rs, rather the underlying philosophies apparantly ignored by each. But to answer your questions,

        Over the last fifteen years,

        Remember that spending bills originate in the house, which has been under republican control for the past 11 years, so they're going to get credit/blame for the vast majority of spending related events.

        which party was responsible for most of the cuts in government and which was responsible for most of the expansion of government?

        The answe
        • Remember that spending bills originate in the house, which has been under republican control for the past 11 years, so they're going to get credit/blame for the vast majority of spending related events.

          Um, yeah, except for the bit that the bills also have to pass muster in the Senate and survive veto threats. The House isn't single-handedly responsible for the nation's fiscal situation -- in fact, it's not even primarily responsible.

          ahh. well the last 15 years include 8 years of clinton in the exectuive of
        • but under clinton, the agencies were not allowed to share information with each other.

          This actually started under Reagan.

          Also, it is imporant to remember, that at no time during the past 15 years was there ever an actual surplus.

          CNN disagrees [cnn.com]. This is the key phrase: "The federal budget surplus for fiscal year 1999 was $122.7 billion, and $69.2 billion for fiscal year 1998. Those back-to-back surpluses, the first since 1957, allowed the Treasury to pay down $138 billion in national debt."

          If there w
    • Re:"Progressive" (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sheldon (2322)
      Honestly, I think your opinion here is not quite accurate. That is, you are building a stereotype without merit based on a perception issue.

      There's a lot more here that I could debate. But consider the alternative of Republican economic policies. Do you think they are free-market and pro-individual? At this point, the people I know who are progressives simply know that the Republican policies don't work and they are looking for an answer to combat them with.

      The Locke arguments do work with this group, w
    • Because the idea that we can take care of each other a little better if we institute some safety-net programs, and the idea that workers should be able to bargain collectively for their compensation and safety and other issues - these were once progressive issues.

      Whereas the idea that a feudal society is somehow good was the regressive, conservative idea.

      Somehow libertarians and conservatives are trying to play the victim and turn this around, but repeatedly insisting that the basic social reforms that have
    • Ah, yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kythe (4779) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:07PM (#14878510)
      ...the eternal libertarian philosophical lynchpin: "fuck you".

      NO ONE but a libertarian could confuse regulated capitalism with socialism. It's a sure sign of an extremist. Thanks for playing.
    • "Progressives" are people who are open minded about new ideas, and new ways of thinking. They think that change can be good. For example, my grandmother was a suffragette, and was arrested for protesting in front of the White House early in the 20th century. Back then, women's suffrage was a progressive idea. The NAACP promoting equal rights for African-Americans was a progressive idea when it started.

      Of course on the flip side, communism and facism seemed like good ideas to a lot of people in the 1920'
  • Trippi's book (Score:4, Informative)

    by lunartik (94926) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:44PM (#14877777) Homepage Journal
    I thought Joe Trippi's book on the Howard Dean campaign was interesting and I am not at all in the Dean or Kos end of the spectrum. If you think the Kos book sounds like it might lay on the politics pretty thick, try checking out The Revolution Will Not Be Televised : Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything. It speaks more to the use of technology for fund raising and organizing and leaves a lot of the politics in the background.
  • middle america (Score:3, Insightful)

    by august sun (799030) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @02:44PM (#14877781)
    I have yet to be convinced that this new medium can reach middle america. So far it just seems to be getting to the well-educated + net-savvy younger generation, whom tend to the Left anyway so I'd question how this will revolutionize the political landscape in America and be a force for broadcasting the liberal message to the masses.
  • About Democracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:08PM (#14877998)
    I only RTF'd the first fiew PP's, but I thought it was important to point out. Democracy is not an end in itself, it is a means, a means to preserve liberties and freedoms that people are entitled to from birth. It is a tool, and like any tool can be used constructively or destructively.

    Freedoms do not mean free room, borad, health care, eduction, and (insert good cause here) coerced at every one elses expense by the popular mob. Anyone can do grand feats when done with other peoples money.

    Freedoms mean free, as in free will, as in your right to controll, allocate, and use opportunities, money, and resources honestly gained without the government coercing it away. All to often people act like the government taking money from one group of people to give to another has consequences so neglable that it isn't even worth mentioning. Well, the truth is that it is that the consequences are more harmfull for government to take from people, than if individuals had gotten it by stealing it all by themselves.
    • > Democracy is not an end in itself, it is a means, a means to preserve liberties and
      > freedoms that people are entitled to from birth. It is a tool, and like any tool can
      > be used constructively or destructively.

      I have to go with the Founding Fathers here and disagree. Democracy is an evil, always. Which is why we were given a Republic with clearly defined and limited powers spelled out in a written Constituition. A nation of Laws not Men, where the minority has inalienable Rights not even a maj
    • Freedoms do not mean free room, borad, health care, eduction, and (insert good cause here) coerced at every one elses expense by the popular mob. Anyone can do grand feats when done with other peoples money.

      Better that than free room, board, health care, education and (insert anything else here) coerced at the popular mob's expence by a select few individuals, who inevitably pass this accumlated capital to their own offspring and friends. Only Andrew Carnegie can do grand feats under this system...
  • by Tiber (613512) <josh.knarr@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:28PM (#14878176) Homepage
    1) I found the historical elements of the book the very compelling - again, while I didn't check facts, I didn't feel I needed to.

    And that's exactly the problem. You look at things like the Rather reporting on George Bush and the blatent falsehoods and the Republicans do it so much better then the Democrats. How many people pledged to defeat the Patriot Act only to sell you out and vote for it? But that might not be important to you, that might count as fact-checking. You look at the careful review done about the CBS memo [littlegreenfootballs.com] and it becomes startlingly clear that fact checking is not only encouraged in politics, it's required. If dKos is urging you not to trust the people making up the government, then the least you can do is fact check the book. If you don't trust one, why would you even consider trusting the other?

    The problem with politics is that people turn their brains off and don't do fact checking. Everyone has their own dollars at stake, they're going to say whatever it takes to get more of those dollars. How many Democrats said they would defeat Bush and the Patriot Act simply to turn around and vote to renew it?
    • ...no one who links to Little Green Footballs as a source has the right to critique someone else's fact checking :)
  • One quibble (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TallDave (916610)
    I noted something about Republican campaigners being better paid. A big difference in the 1004 GOTV efforts was that Dems were paid while the GOPs were volunteers. By all accounts, this dichotomy worked to the GOPs favor: they were true believers intent on spreading their glorious message of truth, justice, and the Republican way, while the Dems were just showing up to make a buck.
  • by Damek (515688) <adam.damek@org> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:33PM (#14878218) Homepage
    If you lean right [...] You have a "big machine" on your side, one constructed over decades - how could any grassroots effort put a dent in it?

    Republicans (and hopeful progressives) should take note that the current Republican "machine" arose out of fervent conservative activism that has roots going back almost 60 years, to the tireless efforts of one Clarence "Pat" Manion, who utilized direct mail techniques to begin the process of uniting disparate elements of conservative citizens in the hopes of winning back their own party which had become increasingly liberal to compete with the Democrats.

    Despite history's usual focus on the leftist activists of the 1960s, there was a very strong undercurrent of conservative student activism as well, resulting in the candidacy of Barry Goldwater. This failed at first, but they arguably ultimately succeeded in Reagan. Not that any of their "small government" hopes and dreams ever succeeded. They never will. But I digress.

    The point here is, though, that what's happening on the left right now is almost the mirror image of what happened back then. As a progressive, I hope that, with the benefits of increased communication times and cheaper mass-communication, we can do things a little faster... but time will tell. We progressives should be in for a long, difficult process, with much failure before eventual success.

    Conservatives, conversely, should be asking themselves if they're actually getting what they want from their elected officials. But that's just par for the course for partisans of both parties, isn't it?
  • Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by C-Diddy (755183)
    I'm on the Right side of the political fence, but I might consider buying the book if Kos et al actually contributed to any kind of political win. Alas, they have not, as most recently demonstrated here [dailykos.com]:

    The bottom line: we helped a campaign that was the walking dead and gave it new life, pumped in resources, and made it competitive. We did much to even the playing field even if ultimately we came up tantalizingly short.

    This is becoming the constant refrain of Kos: We came so close.

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