“These are not the only peo­ple work­ing on these issues”, the mod­er­a­tor empha­sized at the begin­ning of the pan­el. In a packed ball­room hall, this pan­el attempt­ed to talk about ways to gen­uine­ly engaged groups that are not tra­di­tion­al­ly engaged. The mod­er­a­tor had to empha­size that “hard-to-reach” was in quotes, as com­mu­ni­ties which might be hard for some peo­ple are every­day friends and neigh­bors for oth­ers. This reminder was very per­ti­nent, as too often it is easy to take peo­ple as the voice of their com­mu­ni­ty and move­ment, and the tac­tics which worked for some may not for others.

The first pan­elist, work­ing with DREAM­ers, spoke to their vic­to­ries, and con­tin­u­ing strug­gles (with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma deport­ing more immi­grants in three years than Dubya in his entire term) and then showed a video about Unit­ed We Dream and their com­mu­ni­ty engagement.

The sec­ond pan­elist was from Planned Par­ent­hood, and talked about how they defeat­ed the per­son­hood amend­ment in Mis­sis­sip­pi, by accept­ing the reli­giousi­ty of the vot­ers (espe­cial­ly when vot­ers had to “pray on it”). By uti­liz­ing the faith and val­ues com­po­nent, they were able to win in Mis­sis­sip­pi while oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive issues passed on the same ballot.

The oth­er pan­elists talked about their cam­paigns with the Troy Davis case, the Trayvon Mar­tin case and rais­ing aware­ness of peo­ple who have been unjust­ly mur­dered by police and vigilantes.

The mod­er­a­tor opened up to the audi­ence and let us con­nect the themes of the sto­ries of the pan­elists. Dif­fer­ent themes includ­ed uncon­ven­tion­al polit­i­cal orga­niz­ing, focus­ing on the com­mu­ni­ty instead of a face and a leader, and the merg­ing of online and offline orga­niz­ing. A major focus was also increas­ing civic engage­ment through help­ing a com­mu­ni­ty real­ize its own power.

Audi­ence dis­cus­sion also includ­ed how to con­vert from respond­ing to a cri­sis to push­ing for a bet­ter world, which was devel­oped through the response which talked about the work which was done before­hand and devel­op­ing email lists after­wards, which includ­ed being sen­si­tive to how peo­ple came into con­tact with the orga­ni­za­tion and invit­ing them to join. Anoth­er response was to say that that you can’t push for bet­ter if the cri­sis is con­tin­u­ing to occur, such as high incar­cer­a­tion rates and the stop-and-frisk poli­cies which need to be dealt with lest it con­tin­ues that “the house is on fire”.

In the last round of ques­tions, impor­tance was place on tar­get­ing those deci­sion­mak­ers who will help an orga­ni­za­ton get what it wants, and also how to tar­get Oba­ma “with­out elect­ing Mitt Rom­ney”. The biggest answer was that by tar­get­ing Oba­ma the pro­gres­sive move­ment will actu­al­ly help the cam­paign because by get­ting the Admin­is­tra­tion to do what we want it will ener­gize the demor­al­ized base and get peo­ple out to vote, cit­ing the strate­gies used to get Oba­ma to sup­port mar­riage equality.

There is much to con­nect with the last com­ment, because many peo­ple have been dis­il­lu­sioned to Oba­ma the President,and much of what have been said in pre­vi­ous Net­roots Nations by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Admin­is­tra­tion was to hold their feet to the fire and ensure their account­abil­i­ty to pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy. The pan­elists made it clear that by not being over­cau­tious due to fears of a red Novem­ber we will reelect a Pres­i­dent of the cal­iber we need to make a bet­ter coun­try and world, because a non-pro­gres­sive Oba­ma will make the vot­ers stay home and ush­er in a Rom­ney Administration.

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