Heading back home early Saturday morning. Jerome and I literally scrapped everything we had worked on before arriving in Montana. Our original concept and thesis was too academic, too boring, and strayed too far from our core competencies. Instead, we came up with a new thesis, wrote a new outline, and thrashed out about 35-40,000 words. We now have all of September to flesh out the book's seven chapters and deliver the manuscript on October 1st. It'll be tight, but I think we can pull it off.
The original title of the book was "Donkey Fall", but the focus of the book shifted. Originally, it was about the Democratic Party's broken brand, and how to fix it. The book is now about the new broad progressive movement -- netroots, grassroots, big donors, and a few labor unions working to kick the old and ineffective Democratic coalition and establishment into gear to start winning elections again. As we hashed out our argument, we realized that this book was no longer about the Democratic Party. In fact, this new broad movement and affiliated organizations are working to minimize the role of the party in our politics. Look no further than to Hackett to see how much could be accomplished outside of the old party structure.
In fact, the infrastructure currently being built could very well form the foundation of a new political party (as SEIU's Andy Stern seems to fantasize about) if the Democratic Party fails to get its ass in order .
So "Donkey Fall" no longer fits. I loved the potential title "Barbarians at the Gate", harkening to the mass movement that is beating down the walls of the establishment, but no fewer than four books have used that title the last three years alone. We're kicking around "Pitchforks and Laptops", but it's got poor alliteration.
So I'd like to see if any of you come up with that perfect title -- something that speaks to how politics is becoming democratized, with regular people infiltrating the political, media, and activism spheres. I particularly like words that refer to fighting themes, since we are genuinely engaged in a two-front war -- one against conservative ideologues and the American Taliban, and the second against the Democratic establishment whose incompetence has enabled the governing GOP majority.
Remember, this book isn't just about the netroots -- we're but one component of this broader progressive movement. Like I say above, it also includes offline grassroots groups, big money donors, certain new-school labor unions, and even those interest groups that can get beyond their parochial interests to work for the common movement (they do exist). This new movement is people-powered to a level unprecedented in American political history, and it's already transforming politics despite still being in its infancy.
So what do we call this damn book?
p.s. Here are the chapters (though the names are tentative):
1. The American Reality (GOP in control and fucking shit up)
2. How did we get here? (VRWC, Dem incompetence)
3. This Ain't No Party (interest groups working at cross purposes)
4. The Gravy Train (consultants)
5. The Establishment
6. Civil War (the fight for the soul of the party)
7. A New American Movement (what this new people movement looks like, and what it will do)
This should give everyone an idea of where we're going with this thing. The first two chapters are the current political situation, 3-5 are the causes of our current impotence, and the last two chapters speak of solutions.