A BFD in the D
Last year at the Netroots Nation after-party, Anne and I, along with Marcy Wheeler (“Empty Wheel“) were chatting in a somewhat inebriated state with Netroots Nation board member Adam Bonin. “You should bring Netroots Nation to Detroit!” we told him. “Michigan needs to know that they haven’t been forgotten by the rest of the country,” we said. “The region could really use the economic shot in the arm,” we explained.
Adam listened politely but gave us plenty of reasons why it wasn’t a good idea.
It appears, however, that conversation had legs. Last night, Anne and I learned that Netroots Nation will be held at Cobo Hall in Detroit July 17-20, 2014. Anne and I were sworn to secrecy until the official announcement just moments ago when I was privileged to be the one announcing it at the main podium during this evening’s keynote event.
Why Detroit? Because 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.
Why Detroit? Because 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.
Why Detroit? Because 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, we’re going to do just that. What happens here has wider implications for the whole country.
Why Detroit? Because many of the issues that progressives are passionate about are in full display in Michigan in general and in Detroit in particular: Immigration. Women’s reproductive freedom. Collective bargaining and right to work. Marriage equality and civil rights for the LGBT community. Environmental concerns. All of these issues and more are playing out in sharp relief in Michigan.
Nolan Treadway, the political and logistics director for Netroots Nation, told us how excited he is about this. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “We’ll be in the newly renovated section of Cobo Hall and people will get a real look at what Detroit is about. Whenever you hear about Detroit in the news, it’s always negative. We want to show another side.”
Adam Bonin told me, “It’s very different than any other city we’ve ever been to.” He’s right. Detroit is a unique place and, as Nolan said, it’s not portrayed accurately by the Murder Capital imagery most people have seen exclusively.
Netroots Nation communications director Mary Rickles told us that they hope to bring some organizing power with them when progressives hit Detroit. “We were able to have a big impact on the fight unionized hotel workers were having with their employers last year in Providence,” she said. “We’d love to do something similar in Detroit.”
Over the next year, the Eclectablog team will be working closely with Netroots Nation staff, putting them in contact with the movers and shakers in the Michigan progressive community. Activists, elected officials, faith leaders, and anyone who is playing a role in Michigan politics will be activated by the landing of Netroots Nation in Detroit in 2014.
I couldn’t be more thrilled.
[Photo credit: Anne Savage]