Netroots Nation: How to make a comeback


At Netroots Nation the central focus on the how, and not so much the why. Everyone here knows why austerity is devastating, why women need ready access to birth control, and why blank-industrial complex is morally reprehensible. But not everyone necessarily knows how marriage equality made a comeback in 2012, or how one goes about convincing your Nebraska Republican farmer father to believe in climate change. At Netroots, your network is your net worth. 

A noteworthy panel of the day was “Moving the Needle: How We Won the Gay Marriage Fight,” spotlighting an issue where the left has made considerable progress. Remember the days when Feinstein was trying to stop Newsom from issuing gay marriage licenses? That was less than a decade ago; today, even Republican senators from Alaska endorse gay marriage.

In 2009, the pro-gay marriage team lost at the ballot by 33,000 votes, three years later the good guys won by 38,000. Ian Grady, communications director for Equality Maine, explained “that their main message of ‘equal rights for all’” lacked the emotional resonance to persuade swing voters and “left the LGBT community vulnerable to the civil unions argument.” In 2012 when Equality Maine pivoted to showcasing a marine talking about his two moms and a grandfather’s emotional speech about wanting to see his granddaughter get married, their research overwhelmingly showed that the impact of emotional persuasion. PR pro tip for liberals and progressives: evaluate and reevaluate ideas that look like no-brainers to you and know that style (communication) is just about as important as substance (ideas).

Closing out the first day was the pep rally! Liberal stalwarts Howard Dean and Barney Frank, activist Sandra Fluke, Speaker of the California House John Perez, Senator Jeff Merkeley, and a video appearance from Obama all reiterated the message, and provided a much-needed respite from the dysfunctional state of our government by reminding us of the progress our issues have made and inspired us to keep on keeping on.

Netroots Nation Stats:

# of Google Glass Sightings: 2

# of White people flubbing “Si Se Puede!”: 3

# of Ignored interview requests sent from me to Congresswoman Pelosi’s office: 4

# of Times I heard “The president is not perfect” or some variation there of: 6

# of Times some crazy guy called the American people slaves to Congressman Mike Honda’s staff: I lost count after 6.

# of points Chris Bosh and Mike Miller scored in game 7 of the NBA Finals: 0

# of New media/tech-oriented panels on day one: 12


The Dean Scream remains to this day one of my most enduringly favorable media moments.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

Marriage equality may be controversial elsewhere, but here in San Francisco we've had near universal consensus on this issue for a long time now.

The great thing about the SFBG is that it's always been pushing the envelope *locally*, writing about things that do not have a consensus, because those are the things we need to know about.

If I wanted to read about the inside baseball of Netroots Nation, I'd tune into Daily Kos. Like Steven Jones, I'll withhold judgement for now, but I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. For all its faults, the Guardian is too precious of a resource to waste like this.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

There was not consensus amongst liberal and progressive LGBT for marriage until well into the 2000s because along with the military, marriage was a priority of those who had the resources to crowd out more popular initiatives like housing and job protection.

Marriage and the military were turd bits clinging to the sphincter of the movement that had hung there for the better part of 20 years, getting cold and stinking up the joint, and are finally falling into the bowl due to the force of gravity alone.

The campaign to "win" marriage relied on losing 33 ballot measures. The way that was overcome was the aforementioned anarchic atomized coalescence of LGBT power from the bottom up. The netroots operators, the Democrat Party and HRC/NGLTF had very little to do with the sea change.

Posted by anon on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:31 am

conservatives and moderates didn't care much about it either way. It wasn't so much that there was a majority in favor of it, but rather there was no real opposition. IOW, most moderates were indifferent.

So even right-wingers in SF generally do not care about things like abortion or gay marriage. They are deemed unimportant, compared with economic issues.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:45 am

"PR pro tip for liberals and progressives: evaluate and reevaluate ideas that look like no-brainers to you and know that style (communication) is just about as important as substance (ideas)."

Really? It is not all about the activist and his/her ideas and how right s/he is and how wrong and stupid everyone else is for not agreeing with the enlightened ones? Other people are subjects with their own feelings, will and desire, not objects for our manipulation?

Posted by anon on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:39 am

others upon society for no reason other than that he personally happens to agree with it.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 8:51 am

Listening to KPFA, I heard the little tidbit that Nancy Pelosi was roundly booed and heckled when she stated that Edward Snowden broke the law. When I first read this story, that's what was foremost on my mind. I mean, if you're going to do a story about a conference of self-important techie internet geeks, you might want to find out what they think about the big issue of the day, having to do with cybersurveillance and civil liberties and all? But you won't read it on these pages. No, you have to go to KPFA for that -thank goodness there's still one outlet of progressive media still going strong. Actually, to be fair, you didn't even have to go to KPFA for that. Huffpo, Raw Story and Politico also carried the story. But not the Vogt Guardian's own intrepid reporter, who was too busy kissing ass trying to get an interview with Pelosi's office.

The only hint in this report about a conference of internet activists that there's a major surveillance scandal going on, is a vague reference to people saying that the president's not perfect.

Oh, but we did find out the precise number of times our brave reporter spotted someone sporting google glasses. When I want to know the latest fashion trends in techno-geekdom, or an up-to-the-minute blow-by-blow of game 17 of the semi final World Series Superbowl... I'll know where to go.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

George has written for us for a while, we assigned this to him ages ago -- and you are certainly free to get your information from wherever you wish. 

Posted by marke on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 2:37 am

It is all about the relevance, Marke, how the SFBG has failed to make itself relevant to all but a tiny, vanishing sliver of San Francisco.

Posted by anon on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 7:48 am

The reportage in this paper is becoming a joke.

Posted by Not-bot out on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:32 am

Well Marke, as you may be aware, I do read the Guardian... oh once in a while. And yet, I've never seen anything from George before. In all fairness, I don't read the Guardian's sports or fashion coverage, so you might forgive me for thinking that he's new here. That... and the bland, milquetoast coverage devoid of the cutting edge I've generally come to expect here, led me to believe that he was a creature of the new management.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

article, it brings up a list of all the articles that author has written on SFBG.

Posted by anon on Jun. 25, 2013 @ 7:19 am

come off it greg, we put the NSA scandal on the cover of the Guardian this past week and I've written like 6 articles about it since the story broke.

Posted by rebecca on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:34 am

Hopefully there weren't all written in valley-speak.

Were they "awesome", by any chance? OMG.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:42 am

But the booing and heckling of Madame Pelosi that the Guardian is loathe to print.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:44 am

duplicate old news and other peoples' scoops.

Shouldn't SFBG be printing what other sources do not? And not merely parroting other sources?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:53 am

I'm not sure it's that much of a newsworthy event to begin with, but if you're going to write about it at all, then maybe a little coverage of what all these computer guys think about the NSA spying on our internet use might be called for. Instead, we learned that Kobe Bryant or whomever scored at some ballgame. Sounds like this guy was just calling it in. Are you sure he even went to the conference, or did he just take the money and go to the Lakers game?

Posted by Greg on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

trying to engage a broader audience, so that the ad revenues are boosted?

You know it's a business, right?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

Has anyone seen Johnny Angel?

Posted by Chromefields on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:06 am

There was a discussion about it on another thread at the end of last week. The presumption, of course, is that he has been let go. I'd guess that hiring JAW was Tim's last FU act as editor and so the management deemed it appropriate to undo the practical joke.

And JAW was a joke.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:17 am

It certainly did seem that way, especially when he posted 4-5 times per day, the snot streaming from his nose as he got more and more worked up. At least we learned that all Republicans are bad.

Posted by Chromefields on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:43 am

We also learned that LA is better than SF just because JAW lives there.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:07 am

And LA is bigger and richer than SF!

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