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Herding Donkeysby Ari Berman
Synopses & Reviews
After the 2004 election, the Republican Party held the White House, both houses of Congress, twenty-eight governorships, and a majority of state legislatures. One-party rule, it seemed, was here to stay.
Herding Donkeys tells the improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from a lonely minority to a sizable majority. It chronicles the inside story of Howard Deans visionary yet deeply controversial fifty-state strategy, charting his unpredictable journey from insurgent presidential candidate, to front-running flameout, to chairman and conscience of the Democratic Party in an unexpected third act. Ari Berman reveals how the Obama campaign built upon Deans strategy when others ridiculed it, expanding the ranks of the party and ultimately laying the groundwork for Obamas historic electoral victory—but also sowing the seeds of dissent that would lead to legislative stalemate and intraparty strife.
Revelatory and entertaining, in the vein of Timothy Crouses The Boys on the Bus and Rick Perlsteins Nixonland, Herding Donkeys combines fresh reportage with a rich and colorful cast of characters. It captures the untold stories of the people and places that reshaped the electoral map, painting a vivid portrait of a shifting country while dissecting the possibility and peril of a new era in American politics.
"Berman plumbs the roots of Barack Obama's 2008 victory, reaching back four years to a failed Democratic presidential campaign that left loyalists dispirited--and the White House, Congress, and a majority of state legislatures in Republican control. Berman, a correspondent for the Nation, describes how the drama and sordidness of the Clinton years left many Democrats feeling that 'their party had lost its compass, and just maybe its soul.' Enter insurgent upstart candidate Howard Dean, who revived a 50-state campaign strategy that failed to net him the White House, but energized a populist political base and harnessed its energy with the Internet and a 'plethora of new tools that would fundamentally change political campaigns and the nature of public communication.' Obama ran using a similar blueprint, and the book's accounts of Democratic revival in traditional Republican strongholds read well, making political organizing an exciting, inspiring process--but Berman's insider perspective obscures some of the broader conditions, notably growing disenchantment with Republican policies that also contributed to Obama's victory. Berman covers the tactical and strategic shifts within the Democratic party that have reconfigured the national political calculus, to the point where the GOP must mimic their approach in the coming congressional elections. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Berman tells the improbable tale of the grassroots resurgence that transformed the Democratic Party from a lonely minority to a sizable majority. He chronicles Howard Dean's visionary yet deeply controversial 50-state strategy, charting his unpredictable journey from insurgent presidential candidate to chairman and conscience of the Democratic Party.
With a New AfterwordIn 2008, Barack Obamas groundbreaking presidential campaign seemingly rewrote all the rules in electoral politics and heralded a new progressive era in America. What has become of the thrilling grassroots political movement that defined Obamas campaign and reshaped the electoral map? Ari Bermans Herding Donkeys answers and illuminates this vital question, mapping the evolution of modern American politics from Howard Dean to the Tea Party, and painting a vivid picture of the fight for political power in America today.
About the Author
ARI BERMAN is a political correspondent for The Nation and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and National Public Radio. He lives in New York City.
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