THE BLOG

Progressives Perform a Hostile Takeover of the NYT Bestseller List

06/29/2006 01:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Late last night, my publisher received word that my new book Hostile Takeover will hit the July 9th New York Times Bestseller List as the 23rd bestselling nonfiction book in America. As the author of the book, I am obviously excited - getting onto this list is about the hardest thing to do in the book world, and I am so grateful to those of you who have picked up the book and supported my efforts. But the real reason I am excited about this news and grateful to my fellow progressives is because this means the book's message is really getting out there. And, more generally, Hostile Takeover getting on the list is the latest sign that progressive writers, authors and bloggers of all kinds are becoming increasingly influential in shaping the political debate in this country.

For years, the conservative movement has dominated the book world, and has used that dominance to pollute America's political discourse with all sorts of lies, myths and half-truths. These right-wing shills - people like John Stossel and Ann Coulter - have parlayed the support they have gotten from book buyers into even bigger platforms in magazines, as syndicated newspaper columnists, and as network news "reporters." As a result, we now live in a country where few in the media/political Establishment think twice when, for instance, our Congress uses its precious time to hold a debate about flag burning while hundreds of Americans are dying each week from problems our politicians have the power to solve.

But, as I have noted previously, that is starting to change. Over the last year, the progressive movement has come into its own, and it is now exerting its power in very real, very concrete ways. Candidates backed by the movement are now challenging the Establishment in elections they weren't even supposed to run in. Grassroots organizing is intensifying in places previously thought off limits to progressives. Media outlets like In These Times, the American Prospect, The Nation and Brave New Films are creating a direct conduit for progressives to disseminate information. Infrastructure to challenge the right is being built through organizations like the Progressive States Network, Media Matters, Free Press, Moveon, Working Assets and the Center for American Progress. And now, through the book world, we are breaking into the key parts of the political discourse previously off-limits to progressives.

Right now, Hostile Takeover, Glenn Greenwald's How Would A Patriot Act?, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse are all on the New York Times Bestseller List. Just before that, Al Franken's The Truth was on the list. Additionally, books like Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong's Crashing the Gate, Eric Boehlert's Lapdogs, and Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill's FUBAR are selling like hotcakes. All of it means the message is starting to get out much more prominently than in the past. All of it means that our side's ground troops - the grassroots activists and citizens fighting for this nation's future - are becoming more politically engaged and educated about what is plaguing our country and how to fight back.

Some on the left are too bitter, cynical and burnt out to celebrate our success. One of the big problems on our side are those who seem to want to feel like martyrs and victims - those who look at success on our side and get angry about it because they have become so used to losing. For instance, I occasionally get criticized for supposedly being too aggressive in getting Hostile Takeover's message out there. To these sad few, I invoke the spirit of the famous quote in the movie The Shawshank Redemption: "Either get busy living, or get busy dying." In other words, either become part of the movement, help the movement be more successful and encourage those who are on the frontlines, or pipe down and get out of the way - because we have work to do.

That work we are doing - and the growing energy behind our movement - is clearly frightening the Establishment. You can see it in the Establishment's vicious reaction to progressive's recent books. Al Franken and Al Gore's books were both attacked with dishonest lies. Markos and Jerome's book was slandered by Matt Drudge. My book was smeared by a bitter, angry reporter at the Washington Post who seemed appalled that someone had the nerve to expose the putrid corruption growing in Washington, D.C. like gangrene. And, incredibly, Glenn Greenwald's book has been treated to a vow of silence - with almost no major news outlets even reviewing it.

But this treatment is all a good sign. As Gandhi once said: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." This very thing happened to me personally. When I first decided to write Hostile Takeover, many in Washington's elite circles brushed me off as if I was crazy for even thinking about writing about corruption. Then, as hard-hitting parts of the book seeped out, they tried to downplay and ridicule the cold, hard facts they couldn't answer for on the merits. Then they fought me through dishonest attacks. But now, at the end of the day, it's clear who the winner has been. This is the same thing for the progressive movement as a whole. Politicians have long ignored us. Organizations like the corporate-funded DLC have ridiculed us. Now, those who haven't joined us are fighting us. But we are most decidedly on the verge of big wins all over this country.

I pledge to keep working as hard as I can to keep holding sellout politicians' feet to the fire and to spread the progressive message as far as possible - I've got a summer schedule teeming with events all over the country that I hope many of you can attend. And I encourage everyone to go out and pick up a copy of Hostile Takeover and of the other terrific books out there now that are making a serious impact. It is a very real way you can both support the progressive movement and educate yourself and your communities about how to take our country back. When these books do well, the messages get echoed in other media. As just one example, Hostile Takeover's message didn't just get to book buyers, it got to those who watch CNN, CNBC, The Colbert Report and PBS Now. The fact that progressives continue to so strongly support Hostile Takeover is the reason the book was highlighted on those shows and our message was able to get out to the millions of viewers of those shows.

And that really is the most important point: The fact that a power-challenging book like Hostile Takeover and the others mentioned here have hit the New York Times Bestseller List is a major achievement not just for these books, but for this growing movement - a testament to the thousands of people who read this and other blogs, the tens of thousands of people who are getting educated about the issues, the hundreds of thousands who are organizing their communities and ultimately the millions of Americans who will benefit when we finally win this historic fight against the hostile takeover of our government.