Friday, July 18, 2008
Netroots Nation: Later Thursday
I'm beat, it's late and the sessions start early in the morning, but I wanted to get a few things down before I call it a day. The word is that more than 2000 people are here this year, a new record for this third incarnation of the conference. But then, this is the year we really do have an excellent chance to Take Our Country Back -- something so many of us in the netroots/grassroots have been working for each and every day since 2003, when Howard Dean was running for president. And we can do it by winning both the White House and a significant number of additional seats in Congress -- not to mention state and local races.
This afternoon we attended the Open Left caucus led by bloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, and Washington State Congressional candidate Darcy Burner. The discussion centered on lessons learned from the net neutrality and FISA battles that might help us be effective on energy and gas prices. Bottom line on what's needed: more cohesive messaging and working more closely with activist groups working the issue on the ground. It's an issue that's tough to summarize in a progressive slogan as simple as the one used by the GOP: "drill, drill, drill."
Afterwards we got to hang out on the outdoor patio and do what we do best -- talk politics -- with Steve Olson and Bryan Barash of Tom Udall's campaign, Matt McMillen, who's doing some work for the Martin Heinrich campaign, fellow NM blogger Matt Reichbach and Mark from California, who we met at last year's blogger conference.
Then it was off to the big ballroom to hear Howard Dean and Wesley Clark tell it like it is and bring 2000 Democrats to their feet, cheering all the way. Boffo. Both of them. They always are. It was great to share our table with Ben Ray Lujan, Mark Nicastre of his staff and fbihopper Matt Reichbach. Not only does Ben Ray have a new website at http://www.benrlujan.com/, but he'll be doing a media and blogger event tomorrow with some of the other netroots candidates around lunchtime that we'll be attending. On Saturday, he and Martin Heinrich will be on a panel discussing the politics of New Mexico and the Inner West. Great to see New Mexico candidates so active here. Unity!
We ended the evening at the Democracy for America caucus with Jim Dean and the DFA team, as well as California Congressional candidate Charlie Brown. Only fitting in that it was DFA, when it was Dean for America, that started this whole netroots thing. And it's still only just begun. The tip of the iceberg. The start of the push back to sanity. We have a long way to go, even if we win everything. Every progressive Dem seems to know this. It's been a very rocky road to here, even after the 2006 election. We have more Dems in power, but do we have more democracy?
Here's an excellent take along those lines by Hunter at Kos, about what this year of the conference feels like. It reminds me of a moment today when Matt R. asked me if I was excited about what was going on in Austin. I just gave him one of those looks. He said I was probably too jaded with politics to be real excited. He's right. I'm hopeful and willing to keep working with everything I've got, but deep down I wonder what will really come of all our investments of time and heart and mind. Will those who win their elections in November really come through for us? For the country? For the planet? For the democracy? For the future of our species? I certainly have my doubts amidst my optimism and, yes, my hope.
There will be so much that those in office will have to face and deal with as the Bush-ship goes down for good. His aftermath will be ugly indeed. Are those who will form the new government really of and by and for the people? Will they have what it takes to withstand everything and really lead -- instead of hiding and pretending till it's too late? We can't know that now, yet. Let's hope enough of them are strong enough and true enough and creative enough to handle it, to turn things in the right direction for the right reasons.
That's all for tonight. We have some videos but it's just not in me to upload 'em. Hang in there. More will be revealed.
P.S. You can check out other ways to follow the action at Netroots Nation via video and other means right here.
Says it all. Let's hope the ones we elect have what it takes to set things onto the right track again.
Posted by: JJ | Jul 18, 2008 6:20:23 PM