— Victoria Brownworth ?????? (@VABVOX) July 12, 2019
#NN19 opening keynotes beginning with an emotional denunciation of migrant detention. “We can’t close concentration camps with symbolic actions. It took a war to close the last ones.”
There’s a symbolic “cage” built by activists in the middle of the room. pic.twitter.com/8JX4HKjUEo
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 11, 2019
Any Jackals in attendance? Or planning to attend over the weekend? Honest curiosity — I’d like to get your impressions!
I can remember when ‘we’ all hoped NN would be the progressive answer to CPAC… but, as people warned at the time, even if we had the same deep-pocketed ‘donors’ as the Repubs, getting Democrats to work together is like herding cats. I’m holding on to the Good Thought that the many, many breakout panels are supporting and training local activists working on local issues, which Murphy knows is every bit and more as important as taking back the White House.
Dave Weigel, for the Washington Post:
… Four thousand or so liberal activists will spend the next three days here, gathering for the 14th annual Netroots Nation conference — the third with a presidential forum. In 2007, nearly every Democratic presidential candidate attended the conference in Chicago, staying for a debate and holding special sessions for attendees. In 2015, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley (but not Hillary Clinton) sat for Netroots interviews in Phoenix, only to be interrupted by Black Lives Matter activists who protested the lack of a focus on racial justice in the questions.
This year, just a handful of the 25 Democratic presidential candidates will make the trek to Philadelphia. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a frequent speaker at the conference, will join former HUD secretary Julián Castro, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) at the Saturday presidential forum — and that may be it. With Warren’s exception, the highest-polling Democratic candidates will not be in Philadelphia. Joe Biden, whose campaign is headquartered in that city, will be in New Hampshire; so will South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Neither Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif) nor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will be attending, and the Sanders campaign says the candidate is off the trail completely this weekend, for unspecified reasons.
Sanders will have a surrogate, of sorts, at Netroots; former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a co-chair of his campaign, will appear on a panel and join a solidarity protest with hospital workers. But the smaller footprint for presidential candidates is notable, and organizers say that Biden et. al. are making a mistake by skipping.
“Netroots attendees are the core activists of the party and will play a key role in determining who Democrats’ 2020 nominee will be,” said Carolyn Fiddler, the spokeswoman for Daily Kos, the group blog that founded the conference. “Candidates not in attendance are missing the opportunity to speak directly to this ultra-engaged group of voters and engage core progressives the issues they care about most.”
Every Netroots comes with some drama; this year’s is largely about Sanders. In 2015, he was visibly irritated when a protest disrupted his time onstage. Protests are endemic to the conference — activists have interrupted candidates for governor, White House representatives and even then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). And this year, the presidential forum will be moderated in part by Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos and a public critic of Sanders.
The Sanders campaign, again, says there is a good reason the senator cannot come. But the professional activists who make up most of the Netroots audience have been cheering for Warren longer than Sanders; in 2014, a brief campaign to draft Warren as a presidential candidate debuted at the conference. Moulitsas said that Sanders was making a mistake…
Biden’s absence is less surprising, though he spoke at the event as vice president five years ago. (He skipped the 2007 conference.) Booker and Harris spoke at the 2018 conference in New Orleans. Organizers made a conscious effort to not invite everyone running for president. To attend, candidates needed to show some level of support in Daily Kos’s biweekly straw poll; most candidates simply didn’t have that support, and, per Fiddler, they were “politely” told they would not get time at the forum…
The forum is just one part of a multiday conference. There is no real “liberal” answer to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference; Netroots comes close, but instead of stacking a long series of speeches and panels over several days, it features a few keynote sessions interspersed with dozens of small panels and breakout sessions. The better-funded organs of the left, like Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood, and the American Federation of Teachers, sponsor the conference and host trainings and after-parties; Tom Steyer’s NextGen typically sponsors an annual pub quiz. (Steyer himself, now a candidate for president, is skipping this year’s conference to campaign in South Carolina.)
This year, it’s all funding a conference that will focus more on labor unions, protest movements and the new members of Congress than on the 2020 race. Three members of the House progressive “squad” will be there: Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who attended the 2017 conference as an activist and the 2018 conference as an icon, will not make it.) Sens. Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley, who decided not to run for president, will talk about the left’s agenda. It will be, again, the biggest gathering of liberal activists in the country, but it’s not lost on anyone that most of the 2020 field is skipping it…
Y’all know my bias, but this seems like a mistake by the Sanders campaign; if he’s going to find a *mostly* sympathetic audience, shunning the meeting gives his detractors a weapon…
Sanders campaign totally shocked to discover man who founded progressive candidates' forum would be in attendance. https://t.co/LtQAQtt5HE
— Ragnarok Lobster (@eclecticbrotha) July 11, 2019
Inspiring opening panel at #NN19 with @VarshPrakash: “Calling climate change an emergency and treating it like one are two different things. The hurricanes, the floods are here.” #GreenNewDeal @sunrisemvmt pic.twitter.com/XBCHqOaqda
— Julie Anne (@JAMB_BLN) July 11, 2019
— Swing Left (@swingleft) July 11, 2019
Who runs the world?!
These incredible leaders are inspiring. ????
— EMILY's List (@emilyslist) July 10, 2019
— David Nir (@DavidNir) July 11, 2019
— jordan (@JordanUhl) July 12, 2019