Netroots Nation is a political convention for American progressive political activists, originally organized by readers and writers of Daily Kos, a liberal political blog. It was previously called YearlyKos.
The first YearlyKos was held in Las Vegas, from June 8–11, 2006. It was held at the Riviera Hotel and Casino There were 1,200 attendees, and featured prominent Democrats such as Harry Reid, Howard Dean, and Barbara Boxer, as well as three possible contenders in the 2008 Democratic primary: retired General Wesley Clark, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and former Virginia governor Mark Warner.
Laughing Liberally provided comedy entertainment at the convention, with stand-up comics Lee Camp and Baratunde Thurston, and George W. Bush impressionist James Adomian. Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer addressed the convention, and Barbara Boxer referred to the Netroots.
Wes Clarke and Mark Warner, seemingly exploring presidential runs, met with the attendees, with Warner throwing a lavish party at the Stratosphere.
The convention also consisted of panels, roundtable discussion groups, and other gatherings of activists, members of the media and elected officials. Democracy for America and the Center for American Progress were among the groups offering training sessions. Many of the panels were broadcast on C-SPAN.
The convention also received a significant amount of coverage in the traditional media, including a write-up in the New York Times that said this event “seems on its way to becoming as much a part of the Democratic political circuit as the Iowa State Fair.”
Seven of the eight major Democratic Presidential candidates attended the Convention in a debate moderated by bloggers. The candidates were Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson. The most memorable moment was when Hillary Clinton refused to join John Edwards and Barack Obama's pledge to stop taking money from Washington lobbyists.
Before and after the debate the candidates held their own break-out sessions.
Media coverage called out the emergence of the Netroots in current political discourse (“Liberal bloggers can count the ways they are making their presence felt in the presidential race.” –Chicago Tribune) and beyond 2008 (“The Netroots appear to be here to stay. Much of the debate at this year’s conference is aimed not at defining who the group is but rather at on what the group should do in 2008 and beyond.” –Chris Cillizza, Washington Post).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were expected to appear, but were held up in Washington due to various votes. On Saturday night of the Convention, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the controversial FISA legislation to expand George W. Bush's powers.
After rebranding to Netroots Nation to better reflect the growing influence and membership of the netroots as a whole rather than just Daily Kos, the 2008 convention was held in Austin, Texas at the Austin Convention Center from July 17–20. Prominent speakers in 2008 included Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who was joined on stage by a surprise guest, former Vice President Al Gore.
On Saturday night, Gina Cooper announced the end of her tenure as Director of Netroots Nation.
In 2009, Netroots Nation was held at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center, on August 13–16. Pittsburgh was chosen in part because it is a leader in LEED Certified green building technology; it has more square footage of green buildings than any other city in the country. Another reason was Pittsburgh's rich labor union history. Prominent speakers included President Bill Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, SEIU's Anna Burger, former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Dean Baker. There was also a debate between Pennsylvania Senate candidates Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter.
The keynote speaker was former US President Bill Clinton. The event captured international headlines when the Democratic Congressional leadership seemingly abandoned the "public option" during the Health Care debate and Howard Dean spoke forcefully that the party would reconsider this issue and not compromise on it. Former President Bill Clinton also made headlines in Pittsburgh when responding to a question shouted at him during his speech, concerning gay rights and the military. Clinton quipped at a shouting audience member, "You know you should go to one of those Congressional health care meetings," and went on to say that the implementation of the policy was not what he envisioned or how it was originally defined and that it was ridiculous that $150,000 was spent "to get rid of an Arabic translator" and that 130 servicemen and -women known to be gay were allowed to serve in the first Gulf War until "they kicked them out."
The 2010 Netroots Nation conference was held in the Las Vegas Valley at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. About 2,200 attended the conference.
There were 70 panels, screening series and a Campaign Academy with 30 hands-on training sessions. These trainings, organized with the help of Democracy for America, featured professionals from dozens of organizations and publications in the progressive movement. Along with the panels and trainings there were seven keynote sessions. Two of the keynotes were question-and-answer sessions: Ask the Speaker with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ask the Leader with Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Prominent speakers included Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen.Al Franken, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Elizabeth Warren, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Ed Schultz, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Tom Udall, Rep.Alan Grayson, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Jared Polis, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep.Jerrold Nadler, Van Jones, Rich Trumka, Tim Wise, Lizz Winstead, Majora Carter, Markos Moulitsas, Tarryl Clark, Bill Halter, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Gerald McEntee and Eliseo Medina.
During his speech, Sen. Franken argued against media consolidation and for net neutrality laws. He said, in part, "If we don't protect Net Neutrality now, how long do you think it will take before Comcast-NBC Universal, or Verizon-CBS Viacom or AT&T-ABC-DirecTV or BP-Haliburton-Walmart-Fox-Domino's-Pizza start favoring its content over everyone else's?"
The 2011 Netroots Nation was held June 16–19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and drew its largest crowd ever: more than 2400. Prominent featured speakers included Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, former Senator Russ Feingold, Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, Van Jones, White House Communications Director Daniel Pfeiffer, John Aravosis, Shannon Augare, Senator Mark Begich, Senator Ben Cardin, Rep. Judy Chu, Lt. Dan Choi, Rep. Keith Ellison, Tarryl Clark, Dr. Heidi Cullen, Rep. Donna Edwards, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, Laura Flanders, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. John Garamendi, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Jane Hamsher and Montana State Rep. Ellie Hill.
Netroots Nation 2011 also had an international presence, with bloggers and activists from 24 countries—including Germany, Morocco, Yemen, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and China—participating. The conference culminated with the first ever Freedom from Fear Awards program, which highlighted fearless immigration activism and featured an original song from Jill Sobule.
Prominent featured speakers included Rebuild the Dream co-founder Van Jones, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01), winner of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel and NY Times op-ed columnist, Paul Krugman, Carol Shea-Porter, AFL-CIO’s Rich Trumka, President of AFT Randi Weingarten, soon-to-be elected senators Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono and Tammy Baldwin, the Agenda Project’s Erica Payne, Ai-jen Poo - National Domestic Workers Alliance director, and Rhode Island State Representatives Teresa Tanzi and Chuck Rocha.
Netroots Nation 2013 was held June 20–23 in San Jose, California and was attented by about 3,000 activists. Jeff Merkley held the opening keynote speech. On 22 June, Nancy Pelosi participated in a Q&A session and was booed by the audience for saying that Edward Snowden had broken the law by revealing information about the NSA’s surveillance programs and for defending Barack Obama on the issue.
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