This years Netroots Nation in Minneapolis was the largest yet, over 2400 attendees from around the world. I had some reservations about going but from my past experience and being a new blog “owner”, I knew there was a lot I could learn and I did. There is this strange disconnect that we have with anonymous, faceless names on the net. We sometimes misinterpret what they say because we cannot hear their voice, or see their face, or watch their body language. At Netroots, we still may not know each others real names but we do get to put the face and the sound of the voice to what we now reading.
The other reason for my reservations was the current political climate. I knew there were going to be many Democrats there who are avid Obama supporters who would like his critics to sit down and be quiet, let the so-called “adult in the room” handle it. I thought Obama’s campaign machine, especially OFA, would have a huge presence. Was I ever wrong. The lack of support for the President was pretty evident in the booing that his Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer received and the hammering that Deputy Director of Health and Human Service Jay Angoff took when he couldn’t answer questions about the Affordable Health Care Act. I suspect next year in Providence, RI will be even tougher.
One of the best panels was Jane Hamsher, Lt. Dan Choi, John Aravosi and Felipe Matos. Besides Dan ripping up the OFA literature that was handed to the panelists, as I was walking in, Dan was getting “miked up”. I not only had the honor of saluting this brave man and personally thanking him but I got a hug and a kiss. Wow. Absolutely the highlight of the trip.
I got a hug and kiss from Sen Al Frankin at his meet and greet at my hotel and a thank you for phone banking for him from NYC. We are about the same height, too, five foot something.
On my last night, after the Daily Kos party which was very crowded and really loud. A friend and I headed back to the hotel where we were both staying in search of food. The hotel restaurant had already closed but the young lady who was tending the Martini Bar, she made a great martini by the way, directed us to a nearby restaurant that served steaks, ribs and fish. We had a great dinner, the wait staff was friendly and funny and as we were walking back to the hotel, we were stopped by a young couple. They had seen our badges from the convention (yeah, we were still wearing them) and wanted to tell us about the young lady’s immigration dilemma, so we could get the message out that there need to be some real and fair immigration reform. The young lady’s boyfriend explained that she is from a Latin American country studying for her doctorate in a science field. She has a job and applied to stay her after she graduates but has been denied a residence visa. That is insane. Seriously, here is a young woman, intelligent, educated, contributing to this country’s economy and she is not allowed to stay? This country needs some drastic revision of its immigration policy and President Obama so missed the opportunity to use his popularity in his first two years in office to do that and so much more.
The five days in this lovely city on the upper Mississippi went fast. I was amazed and impressed with the friendly smiles and greeting from the staff at the hotel and convention center where you expect it but from people passing on the street. As a New Yorker, I’m not used to the morning dog walkers to smilingly say hello. Friday night after the New York Gay Marriage Bill passed, one of the pictures that went viral was the the photo of the new I-35W bridge illuminated in the rainbow colors of the GLBT movement. I am not at all surprised.