Wel­come to the sec­ond day of Net­roots Nation 2015! We’re kick­ing things off today with a anoth­er round of break­out ses­sions. I’m at a pan­el on build­ing pro­gres­sive polit­i­cal pow­er, mod­er­at­ed by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kei­th Elli­son (D‑MN). Net­roots Nation has a livestream for this pan­el, which we have embed­ded below:


This pan­el show­cased mut­li­ple per­spec­tives on how pro­gres­sives have lost polit­i­cal pow­er over the last forty years because of well-fund­ed and orga­nized con­ser­v­a­tive efforts. We start­ed the core con­tent of the ses­sion with a daunt­ing pre­sen­ta­tion by Nick Rathod for the State Inno­va­tion Exchange (SiX), which showed how much mon­ey these orga­ni­za­tions actu­al­ly have, and the num­ber of leg­is­la­tures pro­gres­sives have lost in these years.Building PP2

The pan­el then moved to Col­orado State Sen­a­tor Jessie Ulibar­ri, who talked about his expe­ri­ences inside the Col­orado leg­is­la­ture, and what’s need­ed to move towards bet­ter pol­i­cy and bet­ter can­di­dates, say­ing “[w]hat we need are folks who can authen­ti­cal­ly hold on to their val­ues, and be unapolo­getic about it.”

New York City Coun­cil Speak­er Melis­sa Mark-Viver­i­to spoke on the gains that the New York City has been able to make with a pro­gres­sive city coun­cil. This illu­mi­nat­ed as an exam­ple what Sen­a­tor Ulibar­ri said ear­li­er, that hav­ing a pro­gres­sive leg­isla­tive body allows you to set the rules and go on the offense for a bet­ter soci­ety. Even so, she talked about how the num­ber of women in office has been rolled back, and on this key issue there’s still much more work to do.

Michael Sargeant from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leg­isla­tive Cam­paign Com­mit­tee has been the res­i­dent redis­trict­ing expert in pan­els both yes­ter­day and today, talked about how the DLCC works with local can­di­dates to make sure there’s a strong cam­paign which is adapt­able to the local area the can­di­date is run­ning, and how crit­i­cal this work will be to over­come the ger­ry­man­der­ing which emerged from Repub­li­can con­trol of state leg­is­la­tures after the last census.

Rep. Elli­son then asked the pan­elist how impor­tant an inside/outside strat­e­gy is, where grass­roots orga­niz­ers and elect­ed offi­cials work togeth­er to pass pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy. Every­one was in agree­ment, and Sen­a­tor Ulibar­ri talked about how it’s crit­i­cal for him, because he only has a part-time leg­isla­tive staff mem­ber to help him on issues, mean­ing that there just isn’t enough time in the day to coor­di­nate mov­ing pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy for­ward. If there was­n’t out­side orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als he can trust, then the work they are able to do is limited.

We then moved to audi­ence ques­tions, where the pan­elists took mul­ti­ple ques­tions at the same and then weaved their way through the ques­tions. One of the most com­pelling state­ments were by Rep. Elli­son, who explained that the rea­son pro­gres­sives might not push pol­i­cy for­ward strong­ly is that many pro­gres­sives sus­pect peo­ple in pow­er, and thus when they have pow­er may be reluc­tant to use that pow­er to fur­ther pro­gres­sive goals.

It was a great pan­el, and there’s a lot more dis­cus­sion to be had on build­ing fund­ing and coor­di­na­tion between our move­ments. Next up, Eliz­a­beth War­ren’s keynote!

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