Consider this a 'good new - bad news' kind of post. I'm still remarkably overwhelmed by the whole event of Netroots Nation, including the wonderful journey there and back again. It truly is a concentrated flood of information and experience. The good news is that for the first time in years, I have too much to blog about. The bad news is that I'm having a very difficult time organizing that mental goulash into coherent form for posting. So, any questions or requests for specifics would be appreciated at any time. This year was the largest NN ever, with about 2500 attendees. I haven't any doubt that the location had a considerable amount to do with that.
Minneapolis is truly beautiful, and easily one of the most progressive cities in the US, as Mayor Rybak was quick to point out the 3 times I heard him speechify (always ended with a hearty cry of "Spend liberally!".) It is also central, not only to the nation but to the conflicts which are energizing the Democratic base, in Wisconsin and in Ohio, as well the home of T-Paw and Michelle Bachmann, the droll and crazy of the current Presidential clown circus. Minneapolis was the perfect choice for this convention.
Catching up with the online reactions to NN 2011, it seems that many wish to promote a particular narrative concerning the convention. DougJ at Balloon Juice, calls it the Manic Progressive narrative, and links to it's promoters. In short, the idea is that progressives hate the Obama administration and are debilitatingly disappointed in Democratic politics. There are those who wish desperately to promote that narrative on the 'left' as well. There are also those (~cough~ Jane Hamsher ~cough~) who wish to see a rift in the progressive community between the 'enlightened' few who see Obama as a paid-for figurehead and those who still support him and Democrat policies. (For the record, even Howard Dean and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have started calling it the Democrat party. I still find that annoying in a grammatical sense, but ...) Look at these headlines. NPR - "Liberal Bloggers: Obama 'Not Our Boyfriend Anymore'". Extreme Liberal's Blog - "Netroot Nations 2011 Attendees Support President Obama!" ~sigh~ It's really kind of difficult to suss out the truth, if there is one, in this hyped up scenario.
Here's my reaction as one with 'boots on the ground', so to speak. I spent most of the conference hanging out with westerners. One beautiful, talented, active and intelligent woman from Oregon of my acquaintance characterized this supposed divide as being "mean girls". I tend to agree. There is dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, but most of us in the west are seriously unhappy with what affects us far more deeply. The rightward shift wrought by the Tea Party has disproportionately hurt us where we live, and we're none too happy with the Jane Hamsher self-promotion Democrat monster making machine. As you are well aware, having followed the link above, Hamsher was there at NN11. She spent most of the day sitting against the wall of the M level with her face planted in a laptop. She didn't engage, she spoke only to those who fulfilled her needs. I spent most of the convention watching and listening, and what I learned of Jane wasn't very 'progressive'. It was no small wonder to read today that Hamsher has a stake in the conflict viewed in this post. Jane wants that conflict to promote Jane. Of that, I am convinced. Her followers want similar. Any Firebagger who reads this post will no doubts take exception to what I write, but Jane speaking to her followers bore no difference to Andrew Breitbart holding court with his boys in the bar of the Hilton. (Yes, I was witness to them both. It pays to be observant at such a conference.)
There is a problem in the progressive community, but I'm unconvinced that it is what the media, online or other, wishes to suggest that it is. It certainly isn't what those who profit from conflict suggest that it is. Netroots Nation convinced me that we mostly have the same values, expressed in different ways. Our values may not be the same as anothers but we hold to similar ideals focused on making life for all better. Some don't have our best interests in mind. (~cough~ Jane Hamsher ~cough~) This idea appears to be very clear among those from the West.
In a related way, I need to post how many Kossacks have lost sight of a worthy goal. The good news - we share a hope for the future. The bad, we share a common enemy in the self-promoters and those who would shrink the big tent. Netroots Nation was supposed to energize and enervate the faithful. At this point, I wonder what that faith is supposed to be ...