Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kos, Netroots Nation, and immigration

There were two interesting developments over the weekend at Netroots Nation, the annual confab of liberal Democrats (the fairest, if not the most accurate label) taking place this year in Detroit, Michigan.

The first one occurred last Thursday, when Joe Biden, one of the keynote speakers (Elizabeth Warren was the other) was heckled -- politely, but heckled nevertheless -- by a small group of pro-immigrant folks.  Egberto Willies was on the scene and filed this report.

It first started softly and progressively got louder. A group of attendees stood up in the front side of the room and started yelling ‘Stop deporting our families.’ The vice president did not get frazzled or perturbed.

“I respect your views and I share your views,” (Biden) said. “But let me take these issues one …” The hecklers continued for about a minute thereafter. They were then escorted out of the room peacefully.

“You should clap for those young people. …” (Biden) said. “Can you imagine the pain, the anxiety, coming home every day wondering whether or not your mother and father will still be there. Can you imagine. Can you imagine what it must feel like.”

After the interruption, (the vice president) resumed his speech.

The second was the reveal that the godfather of Netroots Nation and publisher of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, will boycott the convention next year when it is scheduled to be held in Phoenix, AZ.  For that, Dave Weigel at Slate.

After last night's annual Netroots Nation pub quiz—a raucous party with in-jokes that go back years, probably exemplified by the team that brought a giant Burmese flag to protest a 2011 decision in favor use of the name "Myanmar"—I remarked to a friend from the Daily Kos that it would be fun to team up next year. Breaking news: That wouldn't happen. "It's in Phoenix, and Markos is boycotting Arizona." Meaning that Markos Moulitsas, whose Daily Kos blog spun off this annual event in 2006, would neither show up nor bring his team to the next host city.

Before I could ask Moulitsas about the decision, he went and explained himself on the blog. He vehemently disagreed with the "inherently divisive" decision of a board he did not belong to. (The conference was called Yearly Kos in 2006 and 2007, before Moulitsas recommended a broadening re-brand.)

I doubt the conference would decide to host the event in, say, Apartheid South Africa, in order to "take the fight to the enemy". If you think that analogy is absurd, it is, but only in terms of degree, not intent in the county that has consistently elected Sheriff Joe Arpaio since 1992. But if you want a less bombastic analogy, look to labor: Netroots Nation refuses to hold events in cities without union hotel and conference facilities. They're not "taking the fight" to non-unionized locations because we, as a movement, stand for the right of people to organize and we don't reward those places that deny those rights. It's the right call. Also, would the conference have been happy to stay in Arizona had Gov. Jan Brewer signed the virulently anti-gay SB 1062 earlier this year? Hard to see that happening.

Latinos deserve that same kind of respect.

In the short history of blogging and online activism, this is a BFD. Moulitsas' blog was the Petri dish for countless writers and campaigners; Moulitsas himself was an accidental icon of the 2004-2008 period when the press woke up to the "netroots." 

Yeah, it's a BFD all right.  Both developments are one more clue to Democrats running for political office this cycle, especially in places like Texas, to either get it together with actual support of the plight of Latinos without papers in this country, or forget about getting elected.  Period, end of story.  Let's clarify this some more.

"Glenn Beck is to the left of Barack Obama on child immigrants," said Chris Newman, legal director at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Obama never filed a civil rights challenge against Arizona's law. He is an accomplice to the civil rights violation in Arizona."

You won't grow the left-leaning electorate, you will not get the vote of Latinos already registered and voting, never mind those that are not, if you cannot come correct on this issue.  You damn sure don't get to call yourself 'progressive'.  Wendy Davis has already made this mistake in her focus to draw the mythical crossover voter, allegedly conservative-leaning independents and moderate Republicans.  This strategy of running to the right in the general election is a demonstrated, proven failing one for a Texas Democrat running for governor.  Some day that lesson may be learned, but it does not appear as if 2014 is going to be the year.  And to be fair, many Democrats do get it, and that will be to their advantage.  Stace at Two Cents:

With immigration-related stuff hot in the news, it’s good to see nationally recognized Democratic leaders take a lead in actually offering services and shelter, rather than become immigration “experts” and offer nothing. Obviously, Texas’ own Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has done a great job. Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland has done a great job of taking on the Obama administration’s express deportation policies, while trying to protect the children from Murrieta-type hate in his own state. Now, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is offering up his state to child refugees. I hope we find more of these unafraid Dems, especially in Texas.

Lest you think the nativist screaming on this issue represents a majority of opinion, please note that in McAllen yesterday, the advocates for humane treatment of migrants outnumbered the xenophobes 60 to 3 in their rally/counter rally.  Be sure and look at all the pictures and read the signs.

The Minority Vote

Unless the next poll for the Texas Tribune (in the field this past week, polling for governor, US senator, Congress, and social issues such as abortion) shows a significant tightening of the gubernatorial contest, no amount of money or where it comes from or the amount of spin it gets from both directions will matter.  We can shift our attention to other statewide and downballot races.  Or at least I can.

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