National political blogging pioneers Markos Moulitsas Zúniga ( and Jerome Armstrong ( were in town last week to promote their new book, Crashing the Gate, which contends that the Democratic Party establishment is what's actually getting in the way of Democratic wins.

The two lefty bloggers also took time out to add some mulch for Oregon's liberal grass roots by visiting local campaign events, riding the bus with the Oregon Bus Project, and meeting with local bloggers.

And they sat down with Willamette Week during their 48-hour visit to talk more about their vision of how the Democrats can win again.

WW: What do you mean when you write that the party's establishment is blocking the chance of progressives' success?

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga: To me it's ironic that we call ourselves progressives, yet we're held in thrall by this party establishment that hasn't progressed in its views in the last 30 years.

They're still living those glory days of the '60s and '70s and those great advancements on women's rights and the environment and so on. And the world has dramatically changed. So we need to evolve.

And that doesn't mean abandoning things like choice, workers' rights and the environment. It means formulating new strategies, tactics and ways to approach those issues.

Jerome Armstrong: That's going to be the challenge of the Democratic Party, obviously. Can we get beyond this asylum methodology of thinking about our one issue, where that overrides everything else? Can we get to a new paradigm where we're thinking of the movement as a whole and our national party?

WW: So what's the message? How do you win?

JA: We're not the people who are going to go out there and win an election based on a message. Part of the reason the Democratic Party has drifted is because they have relied upon people like us to go out and take polls and give them advice on how to run and what message to run on and how to win. That's not how it happens.

MMZ: We know our role. We know exactly where we should be, and we don't want anything bigger.

JA: We got these pollsters out there—they're statisticians! My god, those are the people developing the message for the Democratic Party?

WW: So how can Democrats take power back from the Republicans who control the House and Senate?

JA: The way we make the argument is in terms of generational divide, and this isn't in terms of age as much as political activism. We came into politics with the Democratic Party as the oppositional, minority party. But many of the people who are entrenched in the Democratic Party view themselves as the natural governing majority; they're the compromisers, they need to work with the other party. That's not what you do when you're the oppositional party looking to gain power.

MMZ: Serious candidates have to look at running for Congress as a long-term prospect. It's not a nine-month campaign; it's at minimum a four-to-six-year campaign. You're building up a base of volunteers, a base of supporters. You're building up name recognition. You're learning more about your district because you're out and about talking to people. And that's when you can actually begin achieving some measure of relative parity with an incumbent.

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