Having now been to my first Netroots, I have a variety of reactions and observations from having been there contrasted with how the event seems to be perceived by those outside, particularly in the media.Unlike some reports which noted that both Vice President Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren were speaking at a "Liberal Convention", Up with Steve Kornacki not only acknowledged that the event in question was Netroots Nation, they actually interviewed rank and file members of the conference and discussed it over the course of two segments.
Unfortunately though most of even their coverage was focused on the "Horse Race for 2016" between Vice President Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren. There wasn't really much direct discussion of what was actually being discussed by the conferee's and what, if any, impact this conference may have on the Progressive Movement in the future as a whole.Contrary to the constant tendency for the media to act like a pack of 4-year-olds playing soccer [Every player chases the shiny, happy candy-like ball, nobody covers their positions as I said to Dave Weigel of Slate] Netroots Nation 2014 was NOT about the 2016 Horserace. I didn't see that issue coming up at all unless someone in the media brought it up. That should be, at this time, the last of our concerns. We still have about four months before we have an election this year. To me our attention should be focused Laser Like to doing everything we can to weaken vulnerable Republicans and strengthen vulnerable Democrats because if we don't - if we continue with the current status quo - the last two years of the Obama Administration will remain the same annoying dysfunctional, partisan clusterfuck that the last four years have been.
I, for one, have had just about quite enough at that Merde, yes Sir, I have.
Yes, sometimes the view from the inside is very different contrasted with the view from the outside. And sometimes they are very alike.
Wayne County Government Bldg, currently "For Sale".
The Renaissance Center Marriot [Formerly GM World Headquaters - I was having "Roger And Me" Flashbacks as soon as I saw it from my hotel room window]
Downtown Detroit People Mover, used to ferry conference attendees from the Renaissance to the COBO Center.
Joe Louis Arena as viewed from the People Mover [This building is scheduled for demolition as new Arena will be built at a new location]
Detroit River from People Mover with Windsor, Canada in the distance [to the South of us, surprisingly enough].
COBO Center Outside
Joe Louis Statue at Entrance to COBO Center.
COBO Center Inside.
Netroots Nation picked the city of Detroit for a reason. And going beyond the still very obvious beauty and hospitality of it's downtown section, that reason is because this city is at the crossfire of battle between the remains of progressive pro-worker pro-middle class policy and the regressive anti-worker pro-finanicial-hoarder world view. From being a city where being a laborer, being a on the assembly line and making something with your mind, your hands and your spirit was enough to grant you a good living, and enough to help put your kids through college and provide the possibility for them to exceed and excel - vs - the philosophy that those who are already at the top of our society, the Owners, those who've reach the top 20% or better - who in fact already own 89% of all the nation's wealth - deserve to be continually granted ever more of our national blood and treasure, while the remaining 80% of the nation, who collective own only 10% of it's wealth should be required to give just a little more, and little more, and to be paid a little less, and get fewer benefits, and weaker healthcare - all the while being expect to work a littler harder, and little faster, and little smarter, and a little longer.It's a quintessential battle. A defining moment as to what America has been and what it will ultimately become. Far from the 2016 Horse Race, there are issues, here and now, that are directly effecting the lives of the citizens of Detroit.Images from the Water Shutoff Protest which took place after the Elizabeth Warren Speech.
Video courtesy of Chris [Eclectablog] Savage.
It may not be fair to entirely credit Netroots, but since we were there in Detroit and this protest was staged, there has been an agreement to put a two week moratorium on water shutoffs in the city. That's not a long time, but it's something. It's a difference. Every little bit helps.
VP Biden's Speech which I Live Tweeted where he was indeed interrupted by members of #UnitedWeStand, who loudly shouted "Stop Deporting Our Families!".To which Biden responded, "If you have a family, you should applaud [UnitedWeStand]", which received a standing Ovation.
Various Kossacks gathering in the Main Hall. Markos is in the Grey Shirt, Neeta/Navajo is in Black near the center of the first pic, Shockwave is in the back in the blue & white shirt. Denise Oliver Velez is in the pink on the right. [My apologies to all those whom my then jetlagged brain isn't allowing me to recall right now...]
The very awesome Meteor Blades on the left, with Ramara on the right.
Ian and Susan G on the left.
Will, Me and Markos.
Chuck Schumer had a strong speech, but I frankly don't recall most of it. However, we'd all had a reception just outside with hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. [I'm blaming my memory loss on the third Heinekein, yep, yes I am!] I saw Schumer and had a quick chat with him where we joked that we couldn't see the lines of swimmers trying to cross the Detroit River to Windsor, now that the ACA has passed.
"There Be HEALTHCARE Yonder!."
Chuck pointed out that they also had a better immigration policy than we have, and I agreed by pointing out that they had [initially] refused to let Pamela Anderson Out because she was leaving to go pose naked for Playboy.
If only they'd had a similar policy for Beiber, or Nickleback.
Fortunately for them I do tend to grant that noble nation much slack for the efforts of Keifer Southerland's grandfather to create single-payer and of course, the immortal and all-mighty Rush.No, not Limbaugh, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart RUSH.
Video courtesy of Egberto Willies
Reverend Barber followed Chuck and just plain brought the house down. His core point was that the battles we're having now between the Morality and Humanism of Progressivism and against the Fear, Immorality and Hate of Conservatism is a battle that had waged many times in America, starting with the southern period of Reconstruction when the North Carolina Constitution was rewritten to acknowledge the importance of a person benefiting from "The Fruits of their Labours". Gradually the gains made were lost leading to Plessy.He spoke on how that fight was repeated during Civil Rights Era, with Brown and with the acquittal of the murderers of Emmett Till, which is the event that inspired Rosa Parks to Stand Up by insisting on remaining in her seat.He spoke on the fact that the forces aligned against us are unified in their opposition to expanding Voting Rights, expanding Education access, on protecting Women's Rights, Reproductive Rights, Civil Rights, LGBT Rights, Environmental Rights, and Workers Rights.
If they are all aligned together - We. Should. Be. Too.
But the issue isn't Black vs White, Men vs Women, Immigrant vs Nativist, but ultimately Hope vs Fear, Fact, Science and Realty vs Delusion, Lie and Superstition, Right and Moral vs Wrong and Immoral. He argued that when you look at the moral center of the progressive movement, how we push to protect the rights of all while diminishing the rights of No One [No Real Live Actual Persons], that we have common cause with those in Appalachia, with those in the most lily-white suburbs, we have common cause with parents who are trying to figure out how to afford sending their kids to college, we have common cause with those worrying if their hours are going to be cut, we have common cause with elderly who are trying to make sure they're going to receive decent care as they grow older.And it's when we point out our common interest, our common concerns, that we Win. Not that we defeat the opposition, but we ALL, both us and them, WIN!
I highly, strongly recommend that you watch the Barber speech, all of it, then share it and tweet it. There's much to be learned there.
Downtown Detroit at Night
Besides everything that happened within the COBO Center their were quite a few activities that took place offsite and after dark.
Karaoke Party St Andrews [a local club whose downstairs section was used for the battle scenes in Eminem's 8 Mile) sponsored by Planned Parenthood. I arrived at this fairly late because of the length of Reverend Barber's speech that night. I signed up to sing [Def Leppard's "Foolin'" which I've been practicing for auditions for NBC's The Voice] but by the time I arrived the names were up to page 6 and by 1 a.m. the singers had only reached a a little over halfway through page 3. So if you're thinking about doing this next year - Get. There. Early.
Motown Party at St Andrews sponsored by Ready for Hillary/
Panel on Hobby Lobby, the blonde sitting directly in front of my is Lizz [Daily Show] Winstead. I got to say something semi-jet-lag-coherent about how our opposition on this issue aren't even following their own actual bible, but then that's fairly self-evident and I ran out of places to go with it. Essentially Rev. Barber said the same thing much better but that didn't happen until later that evening.
The response from the panelists wasn't from my focus - as a blogger - on "Winning The Argument", but instead on finding ways in which to reach out and effectively convince those on the other side of the issue, or those just standing on the sidelines not believing that fights like Hobby Lobby, and mandatory vaginal ultra-sounds, T.R.A.P. laws and 35 ft. Buffer Zones have any real impact on them.
Lizz stood up and said that when she told people that she herself had had an abortion, people began to see the issue as more Real, not just as an abstraction that only impacts someone, somewhere, out there, over the rainbow.
Here was the DKOS Caucus where Markos discussed some of the upcoming features of DK 5.0, which will lose some features and now finally include a WYSIWYG editor so we'll be able to craft our diaries in a tool more like Word, rather than with raw HTML. His goal was to make DailyKos more open to those who aren't yet involved, but - based on the analytics - are reading and sharing our posts by the tens of thousands on facebook.People far beyond the walls of DailyKos proper are reading what we write. We're having an impact, and although we tend often to talk to each other and get caught in a web of endless Meta! there are other eyes on us, other ears hearing what we say.On the MSNBC program with Kornacki which I saw Saturday Morning as I was getting up and writing my diary on the Water March, besides obsessing on the 2016 Horse Race, the various panelists including Former Rep. Barney Frank said that...
Frank: Netroots Nations isn't representative of the Country as a whole. I wish it were, but it isn't.
NBC Correspondent: These people are [Political] junkies.
And yes, of course we are junkies, we are obsessed. He's quite right. But oddly enough he is echoing what Markos said about how and why DKOS itself will be upgraded and changed. In effect, to help be more welcoming to those who aren't yet "Obsessed" or at least have become highly concerned with the issues that consume and animate us. And Markos view agrees with those I listened to in the Hobby Lobby forum who talked about how we need to "Reach Out" to those on the fence, or on the other side of the fence. That same thing can be said about the NSA panel I attended which included Marcy Wheeler, they too wondered and pondered the same question....
How do we get through with our message to those Outside These [Virtual] Walls?
Policy changes when you gain a massive majority of people who demand that it be changed.When I get into back and forth debates with Conservatives on Twitter and I link back to my own columns and diaries on Dkos to back up my argument - they laugh.
Dailykos is a Left Wing Propoganda Blog.
That's how they see us. But Dailykos is where Nate Silver [then known as Poblano] began his rise to becoming one of the most respect statistical pollster in the nation. He, was one of US. Charles Gaba, our own Brainwrap, who I sat literally right next to during the Dkos Caucus without realizing it until he stood up and spoke, has become the Premiere source for ACA signup numbers and stats.We have an impact, and we've been having that impact for quite some time. I remember specifically when John Kerry came to us to help with his effort to filibuster Alito and quite a few Senators change their position based on our efforts to change the term of the debate. Some Conservatives may snicker up their sleeve at us at first blush, but they know we have power and we have influence.
It may be that Rev Barber may have provided a key answer to that very question, "How do we grow beyond what we are, and become what we need to be?", and may have provided us with the proper frame going forward. It's fun to ridicule the other side when they do or say something ridiculous or outrageous. When they happen to be elected officials, or candidates of course we should pounce, but we may also need to be mindful of the fact that we have eyes on us that we may not be aware of.
There be Lurkers in them their hills.
We should keep this in mind. We should strive not just to beat up and punish those with whom we disagree but also offer a pathway for them to find a way to come into agreement with us on our common issues. We need to find a way to reach those who've grown tired and uneasy and disgusted with the Tea Party, with the seemingly endless gridlock, with the constant bickering and the complete ineffectiveness of our current congress.
There's a "Silent Majority" out there, of disaffected [Former] Republicans who now call themselves "Independents" who although they may not ever bring themselves to vote for a Democrat - they do agree with us on many of our issues.
While attending the training sessions sponsored by UpWorthy, many of the tools and technique used to make a specific meme go viral where discussed. To some extent that VIRAL! is ultimately part science, part art, part instinct, part luck. It's a mixture of telling a compelling story and having the proper framing to bring people in to view it, and then share that story with others.
UpWorthy does endless metrics and testing of various frames to see how effective they'll be both at generating clicks and generating shares. They also have various curators who will take submissions for items online directly or through facebook. They're always looking for content.
They advised that if you have tons of clicks but few shares, you may have succeeded in creating a great "Link Bait" title but your actual content is lacking and has failed to deliver on the promise of the title. If you have tons of shares but few clicks your content is strong but you're title is weak. What you would like is to be strong in both areas, shares and clicks.
As Markos had made a point about the previous day, Facebook is a stronger source for both links and shares than twitter. It just is. Twitter's all the information all the time format tends to create a bit of an overload and people only react to what they may happen to see at that particular moment in time, whereas posts on Facebook may tend to linger a bit longer and gradual gain more clicks and shares over time.
I think there were at least two panels I saw that said that the most likely person to share a post is a young mother. The concerns and issues that she may face cover a broad array of areas because in her day-to-day life she has to be focused on issues of safety, education, health, job security, benefits and many others.
UpWorthy suggest that you really don't want to have a title in your post that your mother would Hate. You could say what you like in the content, but you don't want to put that particular demographic off with your title or else your shutting yourself off from your most effective viral audience.The full content of the UpWorthy presentation can be found here at http://www.slideshare.net/upworthy/
I have also embeded it. Just like with Rev. Barber - check it out. Arm yourself.
Having greater tools and greater strategies to get our message out, to bring more people to our side rather than simply shove them away in our obsessive outrage, should be the point. Sometimes in our effort to be snarky for it's own sake, we can sometimes become smug. We need to avoid that.
We built, with Dailykos and with Netroots and nice little house. It's our house, but we need to do some add-ons. We need some new rooms. More space. More outreach More people. And then more people. Until we change what Barney Frank said. No, we don't currently represent the mainstream of America, or the nation as a whole. But eventually, they may grow to represent us, and our issues, and our goals.Eventually we need to make it not about Netroots Nation, but the Whole Nation.
That's what I saw this year, from the Inside and the Outside.