Miles, Sara. How to Hack a Party Line: The Democrats and Silicon Valley.
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. 248 pages.
Sara Miles is a progressive San Francisco-based writer who once
worked for Mother Jones magazine. Portions of this book have appeared in
Wired, Wired News, San Francisco Focus, and the New York Times Magazine.
On the surface, this is a witty study of a bagman for the Democratic Party,
Wade Randlett, as Miles follows him around Silicon Valley during the late
1990s. Randlett is a power-hungry backroom operator who is trying to funnel
Silicon Valley's wealth into the coffers of Clinton and Gore, by organizing
astroturf committees and attending parties given by rich people. His only
ideology might be called "opportunistic centrism." Miles finds him
interesting and appalling at the same time.
For those who may feel that there is little difference between the
two parties, there's still a reason why this book valuable. To date,
journalists have offered precious few accounts of who's who within Silicon
Valley culture, and what motivates them, even though their influence on
the rest of the world is undeniable. It's a strange place: there is too
much money flying around, with too little history behind it, and too much
isolation and self-importance. This can be a hilarious, strange, and even
worrisome combination, particularly since the Valley's top players care
little, and know less, about public policy and world affairs.
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