Netroots Nation: Grassroots Bootcamp

By Michael Fruitman, Co-editor, VoxFairfax

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Daily Kos is a group blog founded in 2002 by Markos Moulitsas providing a national forum for discussion and action for individuals to engage in liberal, or more precisely, progressive, politics, as well as the sponsor of Netroots Nation. “Netroots” is the term describing this type of online activism; Netroots Nation ( is an annual gathering of grassroots activists who convene to experience the synergy, camaraderie, and dynamism of  politics in America and to learn how to affect that system. Not unlike what conservatives do with CPAC–the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Netroots participants listen, discuss, plan, debate, examine issues–familiar and new. The recent Netroots Nation conference in Philadelphia, July 11-14, showcased not only nationally recognized political figures but also over 120 panel discussions delving into the nitty-gritty of political action today. 

One highlight was its presidential forum, which brought campaigners, including former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and former Washington Governor Jay Inslee to the City of Brotherly Love. Also appearing was Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. A summertime mini-political convention like this seemed to be as much about renewing the activism of the faithful as birthing new ideas. 

In one panel, attendees heard from Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. All fresh from Trumpian outrage, this trio had no trouble exciting the crowd: Congresswoman Tlaib even reprised her exclamation about impeaching “the MF-er.”

Beyond impeachment, immigration reform, the need to hold people to the rule of law,  to respect diversity and the dignity of work (to use Senator Brown’s phrase), the need to give climate change the attention it deserves–all of these liberal issues were given their due. There was even a local angle, with speakers asking attendees to be sure to leave generous daily tips for the hotel maids. 

Panel sessions, with audiences of 50 to several hundred, delved into how we do this, examining DNC plans and trainings for next year and topics such as election security, state legislatures, state attorneys general and their roles, and grassroots campaigning. The panel on election security was particularly compelling, emphasizing that virtually all elections systems rely upon computers, which can be hacked. There was a demonstration of how numbers and percentages of vote totals can be changed. Other panels addressed issues concerning the LGBTQ population, media, and the courts. The vibe was distinctly casual, with shorts and Netroots T-shirts the order of the day, as opposed to the jackets/ties/skirts of conservative conferences such as CPAC.

The purpose of this conference was to afford community individuals an opportunity to connect with other activists from around the nation and exchange experiences and strategies for effective participation in the political process. At the same time, its existence represents a counter-balance to the decades of political organizing undertaken by conservative organizations such as the Young America Foundation and CPAC.

For those interested in attending Netroots Nation 2020, it is being held August 13-15, 2020, in Denver.




Categories: Issues, Local, National

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