At Netroots Nation the central focus on the how, and not so much the why. Everyone here knows why austerity is devastating, why women need ready access to birth control, and why blank-industrial complex is morally reprehensible. But not everyone necessarily knows how marriage equality made a comeback in 2012, or how one goes about convincing your Nebraska Republican farmer father to believe in climate change. At Netroots, your network is your net worth.
A noteworthy panel of the day was “Moving the Needle: How We Won the Gay Marriage Fight,” spotlighting an issue where the left has made considerable progress. Remember the days when Feinstein was trying to stop Newsom from issuing gay marriage licenses? That was less than a decade ago; today, even Republican senators from Alaska endorse gay marriage.
In 2009, the pro-gay marriage team lost at the ballot by 33,000 votes, three years later the good guys won by 38,000. Ian Grady, communications director for Equality Maine, explained “that their main message of ‘equal rights for all’” lacked the emotional resonance to persuade swing voters and “left the LGBT community vulnerable to the civil unions argument.” In 2012 when Equality Maine pivoted to showcasing a marine talking about his two moms and a grandfather’s emotional speech about wanting to see his granddaughter get married, their research overwhelmingly showed that the impact of emotional persuasion. PR pro tip for liberals and progressives: evaluate and reevaluate ideas that look like no-brainers to you and know that style (communication) is just about as important as substance (ideas).
Closing out the first day was the pep rally! Liberal stalwarts Howard Dean and Barney Frank, activist Sandra Fluke, Speaker of the California House John Perez, Senator Jeff Merkeley, and a video appearance from Obama all reiterated the message, and provided a much-needed respite from the dysfunctional state of our government by reminding us of the progress our issues have made and inspired us to keep on keeping on.
Netroots Nation Stats:
# of Google Glass Sightings: 2
# of White people flubbing “Si Se Puede!”: 3
# of Ignored interview requests sent from me to Congresswoman Pelosi’s office: 4
# of Times I heard “The president is not perfect” or some variation there of: 6
# of Times some crazy guy called the American people slaves to Congressman Mike Honda’s staff: I lost count after 6.
# of points Chris Bosh and Mike Miller scored in game 7 of the NBA Finals: 0
# of New media/tech-oriented panels on day one: 12