by Robert Ellman | 6/01/2008 03:09:00 PM
The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal and cross-posted at Progressive Historians, the Wild Wild Left, The Peace Tree, the Independent Bloggers Alliance and Worldwide Sawdust.

The centrifugal force in American politics today is the establishment’s failure to deliver prosperity and security. In 2006, Americans voted for a change of direction in Iraq and economic policies at home. Instead, President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was enabled by a feckless congress as fuel prices soared, the cost of healthcare kept spiraling out of control and corporate CEOs continued to enjoy the benefits of a twenty-first century Gilded Age. Senseless privatization, predatory crony capitalism, political corruption, incompetence and corporate greed have combined to put the American Dream out of reach for people who work hard and play by the rules.

Indeed, a self-gelding plutocracy machine of ineptitude currently governs America. We’re not respected abroad and institutions designed to protect working people at home no longer function properly. Nobody on the Right or Left is satisfied with our immigration policy. Young people are not properly educated to compete in a global economy while too many senior citizens are forced to choose between paying for medication and buying food. Young men and women are dying to sustain two failed military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, our over extended military has been forced to resort to a back-door draft as America fails to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Is it any wonder that Americans across the political spectrum are yearning for change? In his provocative new book, Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, (The Crown Publishing Group), David Sirota investigates whether populist outrage can be harnessed into a unified and enduring political movement. Sirota’s spent a year traveling the country and his book chronicles uprisings across America’s ideological and cultural spectrum.

He closely observed progressive netroots bloggers, workers at union halls in Albany and Seattle as well as the Minutemen’s headquarters at the California-Mexico border. Sirota also obtained close up access to the epic struggle over tax policy with Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer, his Democratic allies in the legislature and their ultra conservative anti-tax government-hating adversaries. He later traveled to Washington D.C. to learn how newly elected anti-establishment Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jon Tester of Montana and Bernie Sanders of Vermont are reconciling their populist objectives within a culture that abhors change.

From the Workers Family Party in New York State to the Lou Dobbs program on CNN, and the protest industry struggling to end the Iraq War, David Sirota provides readers with his close up observations and analysis of an angry country fed up with the status quo. Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas had the following praise for Sirota’s book:
“After so many decades of fake populism-of revolts by the wealthy, red-state fantasies, and stock-picking grandmas-could we finally be looking at the real thing? In this compelling book, rooted in history but as contemporary as this morning’s newspaper, David Sirota gives us reason to hope.”
David Sirota is a frequent guest on several national news programs, including Comedy Central, The Colbert Report and MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olberman. After years of working in the trenches of political campaigns on capital hill, including then Congressman Bernie Sander’s staff, he became a journalist and nationally syndicated columnist. Two years ago, his book Hostile Takover was a New York Times bestseller.

Sirota blogs regularly at Credo Action and is currently on a book tour. He is scheduled to appear in New York City on Monday June 2nd @ 45 Bleecker Street between 9:00PM and 10:00PM as well as The Strand Book Store @ 11th Street and 4th Avenue from 7:00PM to 8:00PM on Tuesday, June 3rd.

Sirota agreed to a podcast interview with me over the telephone about his book and observations of the populist movement in America. Our conversation was approximately twenty-three minutes. Please refer to the flash media player below.

This interview can also be accessed at no cost via the Itunes Story by searching for the “Intrepid Liberal Journal.”

Labels: ,



Blogger Unknown on 6/02/2008 3:28 AM:

Rob, this is a really interesting interview, and very well done on your part.

There's something I'd like to get your thoughts on, since you've read the book and talked to Sirota. I like Sirota, and I'm a huge fanboi of Brian Schweitzer, whom Sirota as much as anyone else is responsible for creating. But it sounds from your conversation like Sirota is attempting to rewrite the history of the Democratic resurgence without Howard Dean. If so, I think that's a mistake. I think Dean, with his fifty-state-strategy and Internet movement, is the beginning, middle, and end of the story of Democratic resurgence in this country. It's all well and good to attack the folks at the national party when they're incompetents like Terry McAuliffe, but half the states where these uprisings are happening would never even have had a chance without Dean's fifty-state-strategy money putting down staffers in deep red states. He's already precipitated a Democratic renaissance in Idaho and Nebraska, and he's helped in states like Wyoming, Nevada, and indeed the entire West and Southwest. Now Obama is copying Dean's moves with his fifty-state voter registration drives, but he's not innovating here, he's taking the torch from the guy who first lit it.

Does Dean come up in the book at all, or does Sirota simply think he's irrelevant?


Blogger Robert Ellman on 6/02/2008 6:02 AM:

You raise a good point. Dean doesn't come up much. He has an anecdote about being called a "flatlander" by Dean when he was governor of VT. Sirota also indicates that Dean and Bernie Sanders didn't get on to well in his book when Dean was governor. The '04 campaign was mentioned in terms of tapping the netroots. I should have asked about Dean because I agree with you about his impact.


Blogger Robert Ellman on 6/02/2008 6:07 AM:

Just to follow up. I don't have the book in front of me because I've already loaned it. But I do also recall Sirota referencing Dean on the 50 state strategy but I would have to double check. However, Dean wasn't prominent in the book.


Blogger Unknown on 6/02/2008 3:48 PM:

Thanks for your response. That's too bad; Sirota's really missed the boat if he thinks Dean wasn't integral to the process.


Blogger Robert Ellman on 6/02/2008 9:12 PM:

I can't speak for him but I suspect Dean may simply have been beyond the scope of his book. He was more focused on capturing the mindset of the citizenry itself.