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Arizona state flag
Rally 'round the flag
When the announcement was made just a few days ago that Netroots Nation 2015 is going to take place in Phoenix, a lot of us locals whooped and hollered and started making plans. We happen to have an Arizona meet-up with Navajo scheduled for next Sunday the 27th, so that get-together took on a whole new complexion, where we could talk about using the NN conference as a chance to showcase the well-known problems that define Arizona, as well as the successes.

Our meeting next week is something different now, since Markos has decided DailyKos will not participate in NN 2015, because SB 1070 is still on the books. Technically it is, although many of the most egregious parts have been gutted, and most Latino groups I'm aware of, like United We Dream, have called off the boycott and are thrilled about NN 2015 being here. Also, if we're going to talk about principles and lines in the sand, why the heck is this year's meeting in Michigan—a state that's done as much or more than any other to screw over women, the working class and representative government?

But so be it, I get Markos's decision, even if its application feels uneven. In the early '90s when we experienced the MLK fiasco after Gov. Mecham rescinded the holiday, we lost the Super Bowl and many organizations canceled meetings. I served a national organization then, and voted to withdraw our conference from Phoenix, my hometown. The boycott worked: it got our attention and many businesses, civil rights groups, students and activists fought to get the holiday back, and the people, not a legislative or gubernatorial decree, returned it to the calendar.

In 2010, when SB 1070 passed during the teabagger summer of hate, I supported Rep. Raul Grijalva's early call to boycott the state, and he certainly took a lot of heat locally for that principled stance. Like many others, the congressman rescinded his appeal after large parts of the "papers please" law were nullified. And if last year's SB 1062 would've passed, the anti-LGBT ordinance that other states have adopted, I would have supported further boycotts (happily, Gov. Brewer vetoed that POS).

So, I get the boycott. This isn't about whether Phoenix was a good choice, or whether Markos is right or wrong. That's over with. But it sounds like the deal is done and Netroots Nation will take place in Phoenix in 2015, and some of us can't boycott. We're here, so now what? Markos made a statement, so can we.

Let's clear up one thing: Phoenix ain't Arizona! It's not even Maricopa County. Sheriff Joe Arpaio would never win an election if it were up to Phoenix, Tempe or Scottsdale, and SB 1070 would never pass. Sure, we have homegrown nutballs, but it's mostly old farts escaping cold winters, who settle in places like Sun City, that keep that asshat in office, and who turn our legislature a crazy-ass shade of red. Here's the billboard we should post at every border: If you don't respect Arizona's majestic landscapes and equally majestic cultural mix, stay the fuck in Iowa or wherever you're from! Most Arizonans I know who call this place home love our indigenous heritage, love Spanish language and food everywhere, love the land!  

I travel a lot and like many places, but I always come home to one of the gayest, most liberal and artsy districts in the nation—downtown Phoenix. Really. We send women, minorities and gays to the legislature and congress. What other district elected an openly bisexual secularist to congress? I can easily walk to two world-class museums, a mammoth city park, three gay bars, giant library, university, farmers market, theater district, shitload of art galleries, my favorite pub and a light rail system that's blown away all rider expectations. I don't know where the commenters who said "there's nothing to do there" were.

There are victories, large and small, which we should probably do a better job of highlighting here. I'd wager few know this place has one of the most successful "buy local" programs in the country. The largest city park in the world. An award-winning recycling program and sustainability initiative. While other places are losing large independent bookstores, they're building here. And of course the voters in conservative Mesa recalled the peckerhead who authored SB 1070, and did not elect him when he ran again.

But, sure, parts of that odious law remain.

I get it, but the piling on of hatred toward Arizona in some of the comments last night was disheartening. "It's not safe for brown people to walk around." Sheesh, in many places it's mostly brown people walking around! Yes, Arpaio is still on the job, but he's been neutered by recent court rulings and, trust me, there's a young crop of Latino leaders and other progressives on the horizon, and the rest of SB 1070 will be gutted.

If you wanna talk about principle, go for it, but don't paint an entire state with a brush that's been dipped in misinformation and stereotype. I saw comments about Tucson that made me cringe. Tucson is a very progressive large city, and Flagstaff is true blue too. But according to one commenter we're "vermin" who should be stomped out. Really, people? Does Arizona have problems? Hell, yeah, and I've written hundreds of diaries spotlighting them. Some have suggested, rightly perhaps, that I haven't helped perceptions because what some people know about Arizona comes mostly from this site. It's been suggested I be more of a booster. I don't know about that, but "critical booster" sounds okay to me, and that starts with next week's meet-up.

So, what do we do, Arizona? Propose our own panels and sessions for NN? On what? Representing who? Should we try to get politicians like Rep. Grijalva to attend? Should we write more diaries about the good shit happening here? How do we connect with the large progressive community statewide, especially immigration and civil rights organizations? What about the environmental, educational and indigenous groups? Some of them don't give a flying fig, or don't even know, about DailyKos, but they'll probably be at NN 2015.

HOPE YOU CAN MAKE IT: Sunday, July 27, 4PM-6PM or later, downtown Phoenix. Send me Kosmail and I'll provide directions and other logistics. It's a potluck, so bring a treat or beverage; or don't if you can't, we'll have plenty.

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Sat Jul 19, 2014 at 05:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Phoenix Kossacks and Baja Arizona Kossacks.

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