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Sunday, July 17, 2016

I… Just Can’t. (Or how I survived Netroots Nation 2016)

I attended the Netroots Nation conference in Pittsburgh in 2009, and had a tremendous time. I’ve personally never spent much time in a formal role as a political activist, but I felt very welcome at the conference, because there were many others just like me, who didn’t work for any particular organization or vendor. It felt like a very important moment, with Bill Clinton speaking, among many others, and the place was littered with celebrity bloggers as well as recognizable members of the mainstream press. Markos Moulitsas has to be commended for what he started, waaaay back in 2002. But he’s no longer part of this. This conference is very much absent from Daily Kos this year.
Flash forward to today in St. Louis. I’m one of the only people here without an organizational affiliation. This is now a conference for professionals, organized by pseudo-professionals. Daily Kos is long gone as a presence, and I don’t even know how it can keep the moniker “Netroots.” There are very few named bloggers, no journalists to speak of, and is of no consequence to anyone outside of the St. Louis Convention Center.

I’m currently watching the one moment of energy I’ve seen at this whole conference… protesters shut downI-64 in downtown St. Louis. But to whom does that send a message? It’s not Ferguson. You’re just inconveniencing people who already agree with you, and reaching, at best, the local press. Black Lives Matter, you're doing the best you can, but we need to find you some resources and some strategy. The Tea Party didn't start in 2009, and it wasn't a grassroots movement. It came out of the box ready to go.

One of the places where I’m for consolidation is the bringing together of talented liberal voices. I don't mean just knowledgeable people. We need people that are good on TV and radio. The best of the writers, the best of the bloggers, the best of the talking heads. Netroots Nation continue to be a failure until it gets some sort of formal backing. It’s the same issue as I had with the Occupy movement. No structure, no leadership. It wasn't their fault. We don't have the money or coherence of message.

Will someone adopt Netroots Nation? Do we have another Kos? Who’s going to step up? Who are our Koch Brothers, making sure that we have cushy jobs for those who commit their lives to our cause? We need the equivalent of wingnut welfare. We don't need, as I saw at NN, a group to combat ALEC. We need our own ALEC! (And no, SIX doesn't count. At least I haven't heard anything about it in two years).

All this is to say that I’ve needed substances to get through this conference, because it just is spending three days of my life watching a few hundred people tread wated. I’m blogging anonymously, but I’m the one who’s been sitting through the whole conference with a large open container of some adult beverage or another.
Folks, we can do better. I'll write more about this, well, if I write more...

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