Saturday, July 26, 2014

Netroots Nation coming to AZ in 2015

Netroots Nation coming to Phoenix in 2015!

The convention, bringing together many of the most outstanding online voices in the progressive universe to share knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration (and also bringing in some of the stars of the progressive political world :) ), is traveling to Phoenix for its 2015 meeting.

From the history page of Netroots Nation's website -
Netroots Nation began in 2006 as the Yearly Kos Convention, planned to be a real-life gathering of the growing number of people who were gathering daily in the new public square—the virtual world—to raise their collective voice, proactively influence their government and advocate for progressive change. We rebranded in 2007, adopting the name Netroots Nation to more accurately reflect the broad makeup of our attendees and our mission of implementing programs that teach and empower online activists.

This will be the convention's first trip to a "dead red" area (aka - strongly Republican); previous conferences have been in blue, or at least purple, areas like Las Vegas, San Jose, Minneapolis, and Austin (Phoenix proper may be fairly progressive, but outside of Tempe, Tucson, and a couple of other outposts of sanity, most of Arizona is the very opposite of "progressive").

The selection of Phoenix as the site of the 2015 conference has already generated some controversy -

Markos Moulitas, the "Kos" in "Yearly Kos" (the original name of the convention) has already announced that he will not attend next year's event, because it will be in Arizona, home of the infamous SB1070 and "systemic harassment of Latinos".

While he makes some valid points, he ignores the progress that has been made here by the more progressive elements of Arizona society.  As John Loredo, former minority leader in the Arizona House of Representatives wrote in his reply to Moulitsas' announcement -

Thank you for supporting the boycott we called [over SB1070]. We called for the boycott to bring economic pressure onto the state and to force Arizona business leaders to get off the bench and into the immigration fight. It worked. The year after Senate Bill 1070 passed, business leaders testified at the State Senate and took the position that Arizona could no longer sustain the economic boycott and the legislature needed to stop passing any more harmful immigration bills. Since that point, not one immigration bill has passed at the Arizona state legislature. We accomplished our goal, and those of us who called for the boycott called it off. We hope those that respected our calling for the boycott will respect our decision to call it off.


This is an opportunity to highlight and impact our national debate over immigration at the issue’s epicenter. Most of the national Progressive community is investing heavily in Arizona because of the infrastructure we have created and the victories we have achieved. There’s much more work to do, and it will not be easy. Arizona should be supported for everything our Latino and Progressive community has accomplished, and for what we are working to change, not punished in perpetuity.”

I admire Loredo's work and freely concede that I am nowhere near as eloquent a writer, but I can offer these points to add in support of Loredo's points about Netroots Nation coming to Phoenix next year -

1.  We (meaning AZers) can use the help.  Right now, it is very easy for non-AZers to see us as little more than a late-night punchline because the country only hears about the worst of AZ (the legislature, Joe Arpaio, Cathi Herrod, Tom Horne, etc.).  Welcoming NN to AZ would help get the word out that while our "crazy bench" is deep and broad, we have a growing movement filled with people who refuse to embrace the hate (and lunacy) held by the best-known Arizonans and instead are working to move AZ's political structure into the 20th Century (19th Century now; we'll work on moving into the 21st Century after we make it into the 20th :) ).

2. It'll piss off AZ Republicans to no end (Yes, I am a partisan hack. :) )

Note:  I have already registered to attend next year, and offered to volunteer at the event.

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