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Ari Berman

Political Correspondent & Author


Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation magazine, America's oldest political weekly, and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. His critically acclaimed first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in October 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. It will soon released in paperback from Picador.

Berman has been described by best-selling author David Sirota as "one of the best writers around today." He's written extensively about American politics, political campaigns, US domestic policy, the intersection of money and politics, and the changing nature of global politics. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and political commentator on MSNBC, C-SPAN, NPR, and the BBC.

Berman's book, Herding Donkeys, tells the inside story of Barack Obama's groundbreaking presidential campaign, chronicling how Obama built upon Howard Dean's pioneering use of grassroots organizing and new media to rewrite the rules of modern American politics. Based on his extensive on-the-ground interviews with top policymakers, cutting-edge political strategists, and innovative local activists, Berman provides unique insight into a new era in politics, painting a vivid picture of the fight for political power today.

Herding Donkeys earned widespread acclaim upon publication, and was lauded as "a well-reported tour de force" (The Wall Street Journal), "a worthwhile document of an American political revolution" (The Christian Science Monitor), and "lively [and] instructive" (New York Review of Books). John Heilemann, co-author of Game Change, called the book "one of the most important political stories of the new century," praising Berman's "reportorial verve, keen eye, sharp pen and wealth of fresh insight."

Berman is a regular commentator on television shows like MSNBC's Morning Joe, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Last Word, and The Dylan Ratigan Show; CNN's Reliable Sources; and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He's also a frequent guest on NPR programs like "All Things Considered," "Talk of the Nation," and "On Point."

He's lectured extensively before college campuses (Harvard, Northwestern, NYU, University of San Francisco, Sarah Lawrence), civic forums (Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, Clinton School of Public Service, New York Public Library, 92 Y Tribeca, The Gershman Y, Town Hall Seattle) and think tanks (New America Foundation, Center for American Progress, Century Foundation).

He graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and political science.


Politics 2.0: Using Grassroots Organizing & Social Media to Mobilize for Change

Politics is changing rapidly in the new millennium. In 2004, Howard Dean became the first major candidate to raise large sums of money over the Internet and recruit a huge political following in a matter of months—fusing new-school digital strategy with old-school boots-on-the-ground organizing. Four years later, the Obama campaign perfected what Dean pioneered, building a grassroots political movement on a scale never seen in modern politics. Then, in 2010, the Tea Party built upon the Dean/Obama model to create a formidable grassroots movement of their own among conservatives. Today, it's impossible for political campaigns, NGOs, or social movements to succeed without recognizing and adapting to these significant new dynamics. Based on his extensive reporting in this field, Berman will explain how your organization can successfully adopt the Dean/Obama model, mobilizing and growing your base of supporters using the latest cutting-edge tools of political strategy, grassroots organizing, and social media.

The New Paradigm of Global Politics: From the White House to Tahrir Square

The world watched with amazement in 2008 when Americans elected the first African American president. In February 2011, the global public was similarly awestruck when young activists in Tahrir Square toppled a 30-year autocracy in Egypt. All of a sudden, grassroots uprisings caught fire across the entire Middle East. Eight months later, in response to the global economic crisis, the Occupy Wall Street protests spread rapidly across the US and around the globe. None of these remarkable events were supposed to happen. In the past year, we've witnessed the greatest outpouring of global activism since 1968. What's causing these revolts against the established order? Why are they happening now? What can organizations learn from the successes and failures of these new movements? In this innovative presentation, The Nation correspondent Ari Berman answers these pressing questions. He explains how political parties, nonprofits, and civic leaders can best understand the changing nature of global politics, and how they can succeed by embracing the possibility and peril of this new era of global activism.

Election 2016: Challenges & Opportunities for President Obama & the GOP

The 2016 election will be one of the most important in our lifetimes. Can Republicans unite the dueling establishment and Tea Party wings of their party in order to assemble a winning electoral coalition or will they fracture amidst intraparty strife? Has the president led the country in a bold new direction or has he lost control of the American economy and government? Could the public's unhappiness with Democrats and Republicans lead to the emergence of a new third party? Ari Berman will answer the essential questions that are destined to define the 2016 election and will analyze the key issues that are shaping our great national debate.

Generation Obama: Where Are They Now?

In 2008, Barack Obama's groundbreaking presidential campaign seemingly rewrote all the rules in electoral politics and heralded a new progressive era in America. In particular, a diverse group of young voters (dubbed the "coalition of the ascendant") propelled Obama to the White House. These compelling stories, described in Ari Berman's Herding Donkeys, captured the hearts and minds of Americans in 2008.

But just two years later, Republicans dominated the 2010 elections, fueled by ascendant Tea Party conservatives. What has become of the thrilling grassroots political movement that defined Obama's campaign? Where is Generation Obama today? What role will they play in the upcoming 2012 election? How are they impacting other important social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street or the fight for labor rights in Wisconsin? In this timely and original presentation, Ari Berman answers and illuminates these vital questions, explaining the unique role young voters play in politics today and describing how they can rekindle the spirit of hope and change that proved so impactful in 2008.

The War on Voting

One of the most basic constitutional rights in America—the right to vote—is under attack. Since the 2010 election, more than a dozen states controlled by Republicans have passed restricting new voting laws that could prevent millions of young people, minorities, elderly, and low-income voters from casting a ballot in the next election. Controversial new laws are now in effect in critical battleground states like Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and could disenfranchise up to 5 million eligible voters. This is truly the sleeper issue of the 2012 election. Based on his groundbreaking feature article for Rolling Stone magazine, "The GOP War on Voting," Ari Berman will detail how Republicans are trying to disenfranchise core Democratic constituencies—and how to fight back before it's too late.

Democracy for Sale: How to Fix America's Broken Political System

Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, the amount of money in our political system should be a cause for great alarm. President Obama plans to raise $1 billion to finance his reelection campaign, shattering all previous fundraising records. Republicans and a new breed of shadow "Super PACs" will no doubt raise just as much. Members of Congress now spend five to six hours a day fundraising. There are ten lobbyists for every elected member of Congress in Washington. American democracy is literally being sold to the highest bidder. Based on his extensive reporting in the field of money and politics, Berman will explain the threat to democracy posed by a staggering army of lobbyists in Washington, the disproportionate influence the wealthy and powerful have over our political process, and the adverse impact of the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, which allows unlimited secret political contributions from corporations and unions to candidates for federal office. Just as importantly, Berman will detail how to fix this broken system and explain how citizens can get involved in the important fight to get money out of politics.

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