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April 10, 2006

YearlyKos Panel on Progressive Infrastructure

-- by Dave Johnson

I'd like to tell you about an exciting and informative panel I will be on at the upcoming YearlyKos convention, June 8-11 in Las Vegas.  This convention (details here) is for bloggers, blog readers, "netroots" people such as MoveOn members, progressive activists, and all of us who are upset over the direction the conservatives are taking the United States.  Oh, and you party animals will also want to come.

The panel I want to tell you about is titled, Building Progressive Infrastructure.  As Markos and Jerome's book Crashing the Gate discusses, one reason conservatives now dominate the American "marketplace of ideas" is because they have built an "infrastructure" of organizations that are designed to persuade the public to support conservative ideology and candidates.  These organizations operate year-round, outside of the election cycle, pursuing a coordinated, long-term strategy.  Over time this effort has moved the public ever rightward, creating a receptive environment for a conservative approach to issues, and for their candidates.  

Progressives should also be looking to the long term rather than from election to election, thinking past narrow issues, and building "infrastructure" organizations that train and hire activists, speakers, writers, columnists, bloggers, researchers and future leaders, as well as reach out to the public promoting the benefits of Progressive values and a Progressive approach to issues.

The following press release comes from YearlyKos:

For Immediate Release:

YearlyKos Panel to Discuss the Status of the New Progressive Infrastructure

From the Blogosphere: The progressive infrastructure - is it ready to take on the well-oiled and well-funded message machine of the right? The panel, which includes Jerome Armstrong, Dave Johnson, Markos Moulitsas, and David Sirota will discuss our goals, accomplishments and what still needs to be done to develop a cohesive progressive infrastructure.

"Poll after poll shows that the American people are with the Democrats on almost every issue, yet they lose election after election," said Moulitsas. "That's because we are not playing on an even political battleground. They have huge infrastructure advantages. And until they are neutralized, it'll be difficult for progressives to win a true battle of ideas."

Using our innate advantages, such as respect for civil liberties, concern for people and a much more diverse demographic base, we can meet the challenges to our democracy created by years of slow but continuous subduction by the right.

Jerome Armstrong says that "Through multi-issue groups, the blogosphere, 527's, and resurgent labor organizing, the progressive movement is emerging as a political force."

What exactly are the progressives up against? Rebuilding from scratch after their 1964 landslide defeat, the far right built a machine that eventually took over all branches of the government. The far right's relentless co-opting of control has resulted in massive debt, a war with no end in sight, outsourced jobs, eroded civil liberties, environmental destruction and a rampant culture of corruption.

But the conservative movement's track record of building power - regardless of its effect - has also been instructive. The panel will describe what progressives can learn from the right's tactical successes in building their movement and how we can use our skills, assets, and techniques to fuel our movement and rescue our democracy.

About the panel:

Markos Moulitsas, a U.S. Army veteran and holder of two bachelor's degrees and a law degree, started Daily Kos in May 2002 after moving to California to work in the tech industry. His blog has had a meteoric rise and currently receives more than a million unique visitors every day, making it one of the most popular blogs in the world. He is the co-author of "Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the rise of People-Powered Politics." He now lives with his wife and toddler son in Berkeley, California.

Jerome Armstrong is a longtime blogger at MyDD.com who worked on Howard Dean's internet campaign. Now working for a 2006 U.S. Senate candidate and a potential Presidential candidate for '08, he founded the web firm Netroots.com. He is the co-author of "Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the rise of People-Powered Politics."

David Sirota is the author of the book "Hostile Takeover," which looks at how corporate interests have joined forces with politicians to make sure public policy is sold off to the highest bidder. He is a senior editor at In These Times, a regular contributor to The Nation and the American Prospect, and the blogger for Working Assets. He was a senior strategist for Brian Schweitzer in his 2000 run for the U.S. Senate and his 2004 run for governor. Sirota was also the press secretary for Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders and the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, his 2000 run for the Senate and his 2004 run for governor. He was also the press secretary for Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders and the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

Dave Johnson is a Fellow at the Commonweal Institute and blogs at Seeing the Forest. He has written reports detailing how the conservative movement coordinates strategy and messaging to attack strategic targets such as trial lawyers and teacher unions.

The YearlyKos Las Vegas convention "YearlyKos: Uniting the Netroots" lasts from June 8 - 11, 2006 and has attracted progressive bloggers and blog readers from around the country.

By the way, those reports the press release described as "detailing how the conservative movement coordinates strategy and messaging to attack strategic targets such as trial lawyers and teacher unions" are The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law (cited in Crashing the Gate), and Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions. As you read these, substitute YOUR issue or organization everywhere you see trial lawyers or teachers, and you'll realize that the same coordinated attack is targeting YOU.  We are all in this together.  If you are interested in learning more, there is a collection of articles, reports and resources for studying the right-wing ideological movement available here and a collection of articles, reports and resources focusing on development of Progressive Infrastructure organizations available here.  Both are resources provided by the Commonweal Institute.

Please join us at YearlyKos!  It will be a lot of fun, you will learn a lot, and you will meet a LOT of like-minded Progressives!  To register to attend Yearly Kos, please click here.

Putting on a convention like this takes a lot of money!  To donate to help cover the costs of putting on a major convention, please click here.

To volunteer please send an email to yearlykos@gmail.com


Convention details are available at http://www.yearlykos.org/...

Posted by Dave Johnson at April 10, 2006 12:24 PM

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Comments

Good luck at the convention! You are, of course, quite right about the radical right's having an established infrastructure of think tanks that pay high salaries, while the progressives have essentially none. I'm not entirely convinced that building an infrastructure that's essentially a massive propaganda machine intended to counter the radical right's propaganda machines is the way to go, either. We desperately need some original thought by thinkers who can break through all the brainwashing.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2006 6:37 AM

I think that it is a great idea Dave.

You know that I cannot attend or even donate, but I thank you in advance for sharing with me so that I can learn how to turn it around.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 11, 2006 7:22 PM

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