Thanks again to Balloon Juicers for sending me to Netroots. Minneapolis is a lovely city, and the convention itself was worthwhile and interesting.
I went to the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008 as a delegate, and I was shocked at how different my impressions were from those of my husband, who went with me, but wasn’t “on the floor”. He was watching media coverage of the convention, in between biking around Denver and carousing with Ohio political types.
I would return from the day’s events and he would tell me all sorts of things: how the Party was divided, in disarray, how hundreds of Hillary delegates were planning a coup, how it was really a close question whether or not Obama would be nominated.
None of that was even remotely true, from where I was sitting. There was one extremely upset Clinton delegate in the Ohio delegation, and we would have to push past the media lining up to interview her when leaving a conference room or event. It became a standing joke: no one wanted to interview the happy delegates, or even the mildly annoyed, completely confused, or bored and ambivalent delegates.
It isn’t news to anyone here that conflict is covered, while the ordinary hard work of disagreement or dissent is not covered, but since I was at Netroots I wanted to talk about the presentations and forums I attended. They were balanced and informative. I imagine the organizers put an enormous amount of work into this, it showed, and they should get credit for that. If you have somehow gotten the impression that the whole thing was a raucous battle between two warring factions, that isn’t true. There are divisions. There are big disagreements. I don’t want to downplay what’s obvious. However, I can tick off the following examples of some really substantive and informative presentations that were in no way one-sided “Obama bashing”.
The health care panel included frequent critic of this administration, Wendell Potter. However, a representative from Obama’s HHS was also there, and the Daily Kos blogger who led the discussion presented facts, not opinion. The panel on manufacturing had an administration critic, Representative McGovern, but it also had an unapologetic administration backer, Jared Bernstein, who used to be Joe Biden‘s chief economist. The panel on young AA voters was composed of African American activists and an African American House member. It was not focused on “Obama voters” exclusively, but was instead focused on getting young or first-voters out again, which is a perennial problem for Democrats and is not unique to Obama or African Americans. Those are just some of the panels I attended. There were many more I didn’t get to.
So, thanks again for sending me. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. I have more to write, but I first have to catch up on my “real job”.
One more thing. I mentioned that the theme of the three days was “where is John Cole? Is he here?” That continued right up until the last party. I was clowning around, looking to take pictures of what I was calling “celebrities”, and I saw Markos go by on his way to the club stage. I followed him, tapped him on the shoulder (and, now that I knew the magic words) blurted out “John Cole wants a picture for the site”. That isn’t true, no one at BJ HQ told me to do or not do anything, but by then I knew the name I need to use, right? Anyway, he agreed to the picture, but first he said “where is he? Is he here?”