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April 09, 2006

Book: Crashing the Gate

Armstrong & Moulitsas: Crashing the Gate Armstrong & Moulitsas: Crashing the Gate

An energizing book that puts the cultural and strategic shift of progressives and the Democratic party into nice perspective: as a group that is moving in the right directions to act like an out-of-power group hungry to recapture its voice and political power by renewing itself.

One key to this is the transition (well underway) from a political-majority party consisting of a coalition of single-issue groups to a more coherent multi-issue philosophy.  As they point out, almost all new progressive organizations in the last decade were multi-issue organizations, not special-interest -- Center for American Progress, Progressive Majority, Democracy for America, American’s Coming Together, MoveOn, etc.

The give good coverage to the changing landscape:

  • things that have changed: new donors, new organizations, the building of a (multi-issue) progressive movement outside the Democratic Party
  • things that need more change: accountability from the Washington-based consultancy culture, beltway demos, renewed thinking about reaching all America not just segments, of understanding and reaching people at their belief level not just their demographics

They also did a good job encapsulting some of the big transitions for the right, which one could summarize as:

  • 1964 - Goldwater, fueling the right-wing anger at Republicans that were “Democrat-lite” and motivating action to build thinktanks, leadership institutes, etc.
  • 1980 - Reagan, an appealing message vehicle for core principles, leading to a right-wing hunger for and hope to also capture the congress and courts
  • 1994 - Gingrich, the first “affirmative vision” of what could be done, by selecting from a huge menu of actions from the right-wing thinktanks
  • 2000 - Bush (this is my own), pathological extreme of the party leading to overreach

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