The gripping story of the emergence of a powerful new force in American politics
Sara Miles's How to Hack the Party Line is the first book to explain the political significance of the high-technology industry, and to show the birth of a relationship between the new millionaires of the Information Age and power-hungry Washington insiders that will shape the politics of the twenty-first century.
Packed with exclusive, behind-the-scenes reporting, How to Hack a Party Line chronicles a high-stakes experiment: the creation of Silicon Valley's first political machine. The book explores the often contradictory forces behind Silicon Valley's political awakening -- a mixture of naive libertarian sentiment, northern California social attitudes, aggressive business instincts, and a raw desire for power. Simultaneously it looks at centrist "new Democrats" who have left behind the labor coalitions of the industrial economy and are seeking a new identity in the values proclaimed by high-tech capitalists: growth, globalism, efficiency, and innovation.
How to Hack the Party Line combines a colorful, character-rich narrative with serious reporting and political analysis. It asks what values prosper when high-tech business becomes the metaphor for society? And how, in the twenty-first century, will democracy respond?
With billions in revenues and little political affiliation, Silicon Valley in the early 1990s was a jewel waiting to be snatched by either major party. The Democrats acted first, due largely to the efforts of Wade Randlett, the main figure in Miles's lively, firsthand account of the awakening of Silicon Valley's political consciousness and the wrangling that ensued. Randlett, an independent fundraiser and democratic political consultant, saw a chance to become an important player on Vice-President Al Gore's team by serving as the primary conduit between the Valley and Washington. Miles shows how Randlett, with significant backing from the powerful venture capitalist John Doerr, organized the mostly apolitical business and technical leaders of the Valley in a successful effort to defeat California's Proposition 211, designed to allow for shareholder lawsuits against California executives. Following the proposition's defeat in 1996, Randlett and Doerr formed TechNet, the first major political action committee to represent the interests of the Valley's high-tech companies. With Randlett's party ties and Gore's eagerness to be associated with the New Economy, TechNet tended to favor New Democrats. But as thoroughly as Miles charts the dynamics that tied the Valley to Washington, she writes in something of a vacuum. Though Gore's relationship to Silicon Valley is a major focus, Miles refers only passingly to his nomination in 2000 and fails to discuss the Valley's role in his campaign. She also overlooks the possible effects of the New Economy's crash on Silicon Valley's political influence. Given the current postelection turmoil, Miles's book is the victim of events happening at Internet-speed.