July 22nd, 2010
08:11 AM ET
12 years ago

Thousands of progressive activists meeting in Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Organizers of the annual Netroots Nation convention, beginning Thursday, hope what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.

With the president's poll numbers hurting and chatter increases about the possibility of major defeats for Democrats in this year's mid-term elections, sponsors of the fifth conference hope the ideas and techniques that emerge from the participants will help propel the progressive agenda and spur action by the more than 2,200 progressive activists participating. It is billed as the largest gathering of the Democratic base in advance of the November election.

While the president still has an over 80 percent approval rating among Democrats, it has slipped a bit. As for the Democrats running this year, they are facing a large enthusiasm gap. Only 32 percent of Democrats said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year compared to 54 percent of Republicans, according to a May 21-23 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll.

Some 80 groups and organizations, many of them key constiuencies of the liberal wing of the Democratic party, are sponsoring NetRoots, including the AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, MoveOn.Org as well as the Democratic National Committee's Organizing For America wing.

There are over 150 different panels during the four-day event, ranging from voter contact: warming up the cold call; to channeling the power of jobs, populism and the angry voter; to how to respond to attacks on community organizers. Those sessions include a wide variety of activists, Democratic Party leaders, officeholders and candidates.

The convention occurs at a time when some in the progressive community are disappointed in the Obama Administration for not pushing harder for more of their agenda. Specifically they point to the exclusion of the public option in the health care overhaul and some of the nation's biggest banks were not broken up in the financial overhaul package just signed by the president. Other attendees however have blamed Congress for blocking some of those actions, especially in the Senate through the use of the filibuster, and say that is why more Democrats need to be elected.

How to shrink that gap will be one of the key topics among attendees. Among the major speakers at the convention are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Al Franken and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. Also speaking at a seminar is Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the congressional panel that oversees the government's bailout programs. Several progressive groups are mounting a petition to encourage the president to select her as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is part of the newly signed financial reform law. She has ruffled some in the administration for being too vocal in her actions.

Also present will be a large group of progressive bloggers. The convention, formerly known as Yearly Kos, first began with a technology and blogging emphasis as activists increasingly gathered on line to influence government action. Now it has morphed into a more general gathering for the wide range of progressive interests and organizations as well as those who want to use new media to communicate. Several of the panels emphasize that topic, including using new media to break through barriers, online to offline engagement and extending our reach: new tools for online progressives.

One interesting attendee is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican member of Congress. He is participating in a panel entitled Bikes, trains, stimulus and the Obama Cabinet's biggest surprise.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 conservatives will also gather in Las Vegas this weekend in a convention to counter NetRoots. On Friday and Saturday RightOnLine, sponsored by the group Americans for Prosperity Foundation, will feature Nevada Republican Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, Republican Reps. Mike Pence and Michelle Bachmann and several conservative radio talk show hosts. As is true with NetRoots, sponsors of the conservative version aim to teach attendees how to become more effecitve in online activisim and with new media.

- CNN's Martina Stewart contributed to this report

Filed under: Democrats • Netroots Nation • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Go USA!

    Anyone who votes to put the GOP back in power is a fool...the GOP will finish off the middle class for sure next time tyey are in power. Only the wealthy, fed by GOP tax cuts, and big business (AKA AIG) will survive...

    May God help us....

    July 22, 2010 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  2. Monrob

    But even more troubling is who would replace him. Palin? Romney?

    I'd still choose Obama over them.

    July 22, 2010 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  3. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    "...1,000 conservatives will also gather in Las Vegas this weekend in a convention to counter NetRoots..." This could get interesting and I hope there is complete news coverage on this one.

    July 22, 2010 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    If Dems want to hold onto seats and even pick up some new ones, all they have to hammer home is the obstruction of the GOBP. I can't think of anything that they haven't obstructed on. and simply voted NO. Dems have so much ammunition to use against these GOBP thugs that it's ridiculous. Here's a list of GOBP gangsters I want targeted:

    -Joe Wilson(Moron)
    -Michelle Bachmann(The Devil)
    -John Boehner(Bonehead)
    -Joe Barton(Mr. Apology)

    July 22, 2010 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  5. wake up

    Progressive = Communist.
    I wish they would just admit it, instead of lying to people.

    July 22, 2010 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  6. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Say the name Sarah Palin and listen to these whack jobs go nuts. I don't know why CNN says they are all separate groups, they are all subsidiay organizations of the SEIU.

    July 22, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  7. Ray E. (Georgia)

    I would tell the Progressives that it was people rolling up their sleeves and getting down to work that made this country great, not the Big Social Programs that have been put in place over the last hunderd years. If things were better with those Programs would we have high un- employment figures extreme National Debt with no end in sight. Now is the time to begin the process of ending all those programs and trust the people to do what is needed.

    July 22, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The "progress" "progressive activists" hope to achieve is toward socialism, the political condition of puling dependency on the Nanny State, and utterly abhorrent to anyone with any self-respect, integrity, or a spine.

    July 22, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  9. Ron in california

    Las vegas the epitome of Captialist economics doesn't seem to be the correct venue for all these socialist to hang out . But hey Vegas needs the business.

    July 22, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Yes, I'm sure conservatives will be making jokes about tryin g to tie progressives to every kind of negative stereotype about Las Vegas... and then suddenly forget all those stereotypes by the time of the Tea Party convention which is also scheduled in Vegas merely weeks before the midterms! That's right, the movement that fancies itself as the fiscally responsible one will be holding a lavish convention in the city most known for wasteful spending and gambling!

    July 22, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Bobber

    Wow...all the big unions that own the White House in one place! Where is ACORN (or what's left of it)? They should be there along side SEIU. MoveOn is a joke. Where is NBC or the Journolist bloggers?

    July 22, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Susan

    Of course we are disappointed that Obama has had to back off some of the most progressive ideas, but the fact is that the country is on the right track, and if we allow Republicans a modicum of power, they will again abuse it. I doubt that Dems will stay home in November and let Republicans and their lies win. It's the heat of the summer...all we still hear from Reps. is complaining with no solutions...and lies resulting in another Obama employee being slandered. If anything, the Fox debacle should spur Dems to new anger and new motivation to keep fighting for what's right.

    July 22, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  13. thor

    Most of these organizations want to destroy the country that took nearly 200 plus years to create and one that other countries in the world wanted to emulate.These groups have no shame.

    July 22, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. Oy Vey Az

    A serious conference in Vegas? Sure ... and where can we find the change cart?

    July 22, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. Emerson

    Netroots nation needs it own caucus in Congress. Call it "The Thinking Person's Causus".

    July 22, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Jess C

    Great to see! This should get the GOP knickers in a wad.

    July 22, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. Cosmo

    "Meanwhile, about 1,000 conservatives will also gather in Las Vegas this weekend in a convention to counter NetRoots."

    I guess its time to get the GOP dirty tricks squad together and tune up for the next wave of attack ads, "swiftboating" and misinformation in order to attempt to counter the abysmal performance of GOP members of Congress who have refused to participate in moving America forward.

    July 22, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Dean

    Why do progressives feel they have to change history as stated by Mrs. Obama? I thought that history was fact. Maybe they can change my history and get rid of that sickness that caused my kidney failure.

    July 22, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  19. A new set of lies will be coming soon

    I have an idea for these "oh so smart people".....

    Get the media together as well and have this group a "journaLIST" if you will, that e-mails ideas back and forth how to squash stories, LIE about Conservatives and to make the nitwit president smarter that he really is".....

    And as a side bar we can laugh about people dying and other cool stuff..........

    What's that, they already did this?

    But, but, but I didn't see it on the news and they are so fair and balanced and tell us everything so fairly except for that mean number one channel.........

    Try and lie "progressives" WE are coming for your hides in November (is that too mean to say?).

    July 22, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. New Age Independant

    Weren't Democrats recently bashing the GOP for meeting in Vegas? Yet another liberal double standard? How typical.

    July 22, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Naqib

    Good to see ACORN and the like getting their plans together,
    Who to pay, who to fake addresses for, how many dead people can we register, how do we get the homless guy we gave a pack of smokes to over to the ballot box, can we use his bench as an address, citizenship doesn't matter if we can get them a drivers license... lots of things to talk about

    July 22, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Lemonton

    Overcoming the enthusiasm gap will be the key issue

    July 22, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. roro

    Yes! It's about time the progressives came to the table and tried to figure out how to beat the Republicans at their lying, manipulative games. Remember, just because Fixed News says it over and over, that doesn't make it true. The Sherrod story is a case in point. It's difficult to overcome the lies, misperceptions, and falsehoods when they're repeated over and over again. The truth will set you free!

    July 22, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. Shecky

    Is that the new word for LIBERALS?

    July 22, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |