The Progressives Are Coming: Netroots Nation Gathers In Detroit Next Year

June 21, 2013, 1:25 PM by  Alan Stamm

Need fresh confirmation that Michigan is a Big Deal politically in 2014? Here's some from San Jose, Calif., where an influential bloggers' group is having a four-day convention:

This year's four-day convention in San Jose, Calif., runs through Sunday.
[Photo by Steve Stearns]

"Netroots Nation will be held at Cobo Hall in Detroit July 17-20, 2014," Chris Savage of Dexter says at eclectablog in a post from the eighth annual meeting that runs through Sunday. He calls the news "a BFD in the D."

"Netroots Nation is for anyone with an interest in grassroots politics — bloggers and blog readers, politicians and staffers, online organizers, social justice advocates, union workers, organizational leaders, college organizers and activists from around the country," says the convention site, calling the event "a giant family reunion for the left." 

Originally called YearlyKos, it was organized in 2006 by writers and readers of the A-list liberal blog Daily Kos. Meet-ups have drawn up to 2,400 people, according to Wikipedia. The hosts claim it's "this country’s largest progressive gathering." 

The group hopes to use Michigan, which next year elects a governor and a successor to Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, as a rallying point for 2014 activism nationally. "What happens here has wider implications for the whole country," Savage notes at his blog.

Southeast Michigan blogger Chris Savage announced Detroit's selection for 2014.

The Southeast Michigan writer, who began pushed the location at last year's event in Providence, R.I., was chosen to announce the selection Thursday night at the San Jose Convention Center. His online message says:

Michigan represents the future of our country if we don’t regain political control of our state governments. Michigan is a majority Democratic state that is run by Republicans due to gerrymandering and unethical political games that give them power they do not deserve to represent a citizenry that disagrees with them on most things. . . .

Detroit is the birthplace of the organized labor movement in the United States and was the crucible in which the partnership between labor and the progressive movement was formed. . . .

No state needs a shot in the arm for the 2014 election more than Michigan. A corporatist Republican governor and a corporatist/tea party-led legislature both need to be sent packing and, in 2014. 

At their registration page for next July -- yes, these folks don't dawdle -- Netroots Nation leaders list other reasons for focusing attention on Michigan:

  • The GOP-led legislature has slashed school funding statewide, leading to an unprecedented number of Michigan schools filing for bankruptcy.
  • Michigan is at the top of the list of states with outrageous, regressive legislation on women’s health.
  • Funding for public schools has been slashed, for-profit charter schools are proliferating, and the demonization of teachers is in full progress.
  • Attacks on labor and collective bargaining continue to undermine workers.
  • The controversial hiring of an Emergency Manager with sweeping powers in Detroit and other cities along with a host of school districts is making waves all across the country.

Grassroots groups and labor organizers across Michigan are doing great work to fight back against these attacks. In going to Detroit, we have a big opportunity to make these issues more widely known nationally and lend even more support to the work already being done there. 

This year's attendees heard via video (below) from President Obama, who addressed the 2007 convention as a presidential candidate.

"I need you to put pressure on members of Congress and make your voices heard, just like you've always done," says his five-minute taped message. "We won't always agree on everything, and I know you'll tell me when we don't. But if we work together, I'm confident we'll keep moving this country forward." 

One policy rift with the White House surfaces at this week's discussions, Huffington Post reports. "They disagree with Obama . . . over the possible construction of the Keystone XL pipeline," Amanda Terkel posts from San Jose.

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