The news broke, and was reiterated by the recent FP post by Markos - NN has announced Phoenix, AZ, as the location for NN15. And Markos has stated that Daily Kos will not be going to, nor supporting, the venue.
It's a mixed bag of landmines: the folks at NN and the wonderful progressives in Phoenix undoubtedly hope that staging the next NN in such a location - in the midst of a state full of crazy with embedded, widely & openly practiced racism, homophobia, misogyny and general Tea Party low-information lunacy - might help sway the rest of the state into waking up and rousting the rot that is affecting their little section of this nation. Markos has stated that given the state's entrenched issues and the continued (if weakened) existence of the specific law SB 1070 as well as the continued, ongoing harassment of Latinos in the state, any venue in AZ will not be viable.
Let's break it down:
- First and foremost, I support the decision by Markos to keep Daily Kos out of Arizona. I do not like the fact that this deprives the great bunch of progressives in Phoenix of having a local NN progressive-packed mega-conference full of Daily Kos support and attendees, but there are factors involved which are worth remembering and considering:
- This site is not a democracy. Yes, it's an organic community with the expressly crafted & stated purpose of "electing more and better Democrats" - but it's also a business, and it's the property of Markos via Kos Media LLC.
- Netroots Nation sprang from / evolved out of "Yearly Kos" - the need for a grassroots, net-originated conference went well beyond what Yearly Kos was originally designed & intended to be - the success of Yearly Kos organically morphed into the need for and definition of Netroots Nation, because the needs of the many well outpaced the capacity of even this behemoth of a site to completely encapsulate, enable and build.
- Netroots Nation often aligns closely with Daily Kos, but is a separate entity. It was inevitable that such a potential division could occur: in one way, that's good - it shows that NN is independent of Daily Kos in some respects at the very least. In another way, it's bad - much of the support and success that goes into NN still originates with and through Daily Kos, so - in the sense that dKos is the major corporate benefactor & 800-lb gorilla - any rifts formed between the two can have potentially immense and catastrophic impact on Netroots Nation's ability to pull off a large & successful confab of progressives.
- The greatest strength of the progressive, liberal and democratic aspects of our nation is also the greatest weakness - the diversity of voices cannot always work together, and sometimes work to divide their efforts and goals with mixed results. The lock-step coordination and bullying of the GOP helps it keep their message going, relentlessly - which, while helping them achieve their own goals that are both distinctly different from the progressive agenda and usually detrimental to the nation (and planet) as a whole, also sometimes traps them into doing and behaving in ways that can drive whole sections of the party idiotology off the cliffs of sanity like a rampaging herd of lemmings.
In order for us to succeed over-all, we have to ensure that we can, as often as possible, align at least our base coordination with some other groups - in this case, Daily Kos and NN should find a way to ensure that future venues are palatable to both, as both organizations working together present the strongest unified assault against the willful & malicious ignorance gleefully slung from coast to coast by what we currently call "staunch conservatives," "Modern-day Republicans" and "Tea Party activists." They focus on under-informing, mis-informing and outright lying to their base: the faux poutrages, the repeated ad nauseam mountain-from-molehill hypocrisy and arrogance - it wears on people, even among their base, and having a sanity-based attention-getting group of intelligent, diverse voices together has a stronger and further-reaching resonance that challenges their "norm" as well as informs them.
United, we stand and present a stronger front.
So, my point and message is this: I don't know how much communication went on behind the scenes prior to the announcement of the Phoenix venue. I don't have any idea if that is set in stone & contracts. But I implore Nolan Treadway, Raven Brooks and others at Netroots Nation to reconsider their venue; I ask the people & progressives in Phoenix to please understand, and to support, moving the venue - perhaps even using the loss of the venue as an example to point to in order to demonstrate to others within the state about the extended consequences of entrenching their hatred, myopia, misogyny and racism. Show them in terms of the cost of dollars they could have had coming into the state - ask them if continued or even increased loss of potential revenues are really worth their weasel-wording and ignorant behavior.
And then work together with others to find a venue - soon - that can support the ideals and core requirements of not simply Daily Kos and Netroots Nations both, together, but also help present an example that other progressive & democratic groups can support.
No, I don't want to see Daily Kos become or maintain a "primary influencer" status on where & how NN selects venues or how it runs its conferences; but, at the moment, dKos IS the primary player who helps bring it all together. I think however the decision to look at Phoenix & select it was made, someone dropped a ball somewhere or made some assumptions that were incorrect and ill-founded.
Please - correct that, folks. Maybe in 5 years, or 3 if the conferences continue to grow in size & importance, the role of Daily Kos will be less imperative to a successful progressive conference. But at this point in time, we need to have both elements present in order to continue having the extended effect we are having on influencing the wayward but reachable - and challenging wacky and insane.
We must resolve this - and, in my highly uninformed position where I know of nothing that happened (or failed to) behind the scenes, I believe it's up to NN to make the adjustments if possible.