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Charlie Owen
Special to the Daily
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EDWARDS ” It’s tough to get a serious point across when Stephen Colbert is making wisecracks at your expense on national television ” just ask best-selling author and nationally syndicated columnist David Sirota. As a guest on The Colbert Report in June, Sirota tried to talk about a political uprising that will change the face of American society; meanwhile Colbert joked about President Bush’s Texas accent and brush-clearing ability.

“I think I survived,” Sirota said of his time on the show.

Sirota will be in Edwards Thursday night for a booksigning at the Bookworm of Edwards. He will talk about his latest New York Times bestseller, “The Uprising,” and the role grassroots movements are playing in today’s current political landscape.



“I think that there’s really no doubt that there is an uprising going on,” Sirota said.

He defines an “uprising” as “an upsurge in both anger at the status quo and in political engagement,” ” in other words, a mutiny against political and social establishments. Sirota writes about those who are trying to take power away from political leaders and put it back into the hands of the people.



Sirota’s weekly syndicated column appears Saturdays in the Vail Daily. When “The Uprising” came out, Vail Daily Editor Alex Miller said he contacted Sirota about coming up to Vail.

“Dave is one of the only syndicated columns we run, and that’s because we believe he speaks to a lot of the concerns our readers have,” Miller said. “He lives in Denver and has a much greater understanding of the concerns Westerners have compared to the other syndicated columnists based on the coasts.”

The format for The Bookworm event will be a chat about the book between Sirota and Miller. Then there will be a question-and-answer period followed by the book signing.



“It’s very cool to have a nationally syndicated columnist like David Sirota here to talk politics right before the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week,” Miller said.

“The Uprising” is a backstage pass to the populist revolts being staged across the nation. Using his credentials as a journalist and the knowledge he gained from the years he spent as a Democratic political strategist in Washington, Sirota takes the reader on a tour of what it means to be part of the uprising and the obstacles confronting people trying to bring about major policy reform.

For the book, Sirota reported from the front lines of an anti-war protest in Washington D.C., where lack of media coverage and a skewed perception of the “loonies” marching threatened to disable the cause before it began.

He demonstrated how the work of third parties, such as the Working Families Party, can disrupt local and national elections in favor of candidates with populist sentiments.

Sirota introduces readers to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ” a self-described democratic socialist who works outside the walls of the senate to raise support for his agenda, which often includes financial security for the working class and wrestling the money bags away from big business.

This being an election year, the country seems poised to make big changes, Sirota said.

“Change takes a long time,” Sirota said. “In our instant-gratification media culture it seems like change happens overnight, but it takes a very, very long time. So I think it is happening.”

He cites the fact that opposition to the war in Iraq has grown exponentially, support for universal health care is growing among mainstream voters and that more people are concerned about what NAFTA is doing to our economy as proof that there is a change in the wind.

“Harnessing that public opinion and turning it into federal legislation, that is going to take continued pressure,” Sirota said.

We asked Sirota about possible solutions to what he considers to be the major problems facing the U.S.

A third-party? They can be helpful, but don’t guarantee any major victories.

Barack Obama in the White House? Only if he effects the kind of changes he’s promised during his campaign.

Trust in the media? That’s laughable, according to Sirota.

More than anything, Sirota encourages people to get involved with politics on a local level.

“If you don’t get involved, somebody else will, and somebody else will drive this moment into places that perhaps you and the majority of the country don’t want it to go,” Sirota said. “Just remember that economy of scale ” ‘where can I make the most impact the fastest?'”

Even though the New York Times labeled Sirota a “populist rabble rouser,” the author doesn’t see himself as a latter-day Hunter S. Thompson. However, his writing style in the “The Uprising” often mirrors that of the late Gonzo journalist. By inserting himself in the narrative, Sirota is able to put flesh on the varied political and media figures he writes about and bring to life the names we only hear about in the news.

“I was not used to writing that way,” Sirota said. “I had never really written that way before. But … I thought it would be a better way to tell a story.”

Sirota said he wanted readers to know his book was in part his thoughts, observations and conversations not just the views of a faceless political commentator.

“One of the things I find most disingenuous about … the ‘objective media,’ (is that it) pretends it doesn’t have a point of view when, in fact, it does,” Sirota said, maintaining that his goal all along was to report the facts honestly and fairly.

Of course, writing from the first-person point of view didn’t make the words flow from the pen any easier, Sirota said. In fact, it was much harder to present his experiences in such a personal light, but he added, “I found it one of the most rewarding parts of the book, and I hope to actually continue writing that way.”

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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