Netroots Nation makes me wonder if I am one of them. I guess I must be, since I'm here, but I don't get quite as worked up by the fiery rhetoric of Ed Schultz as many of these people did tonight. This crowd represents the committed progressive base, which works to elect "better" Democrats to Congress and state government. I am not as keen on drumming moderate and conservative Democrats out of the party, and still hold onto the fading hope for a more post-partisan kind of politics, but at the same time I have to respect what these people have accomplished. One of the panels I attended, that was more in tune with my interests, discussed how to channel the anger of Tea Party dissidents. One of the speakers, Mark Mellman, highlighted some recent polling showing that both Tea Partiers and committed Democrats can be united in favor of policies to encourage American manufacturing. Another member of this panel, Annabel Park, helped found the Coffee Party, which also seeks to find issues on which Americans of different views can find common ground or at least conduct a more civil dialogue. Yet another speaker on this panel, Dave Johnson, gave some interesting examples of how to communicate with right wingers, and perhaps break through on some issues.
Markos Moulitsas does not seem to take as much interest in opening a dialogue with conservatives as he does in defeating them. He believes that the Tea Party may be crushed when they do not capture the Congress this fall as many of them are expecting. Markos, whom I heard speak in person for the first time today, represents an interesting combination of a forward-thinking, new Democrat, and an old fashioned political warrior whose greatest joy is to purge the Democratic Party of its most notorious right wing elements. I have to admit that the spirit of this group is infectious, and their activist zeal to promote progressive causes and candidates is impressive. In many situations, as with a group of climate change activists I also heard today, I cannot fault them for adopting a strategy of organizing protest actions when attempts to achieve necessary change within the system do not seem to be getting results.