Progressives gather in Philly for Netroots Nation this weekend

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on a panel at the 2019 NetRoots Nation conference in Philadelphia (Capital-Star photo by Nick Field)

PHILADELPHIA — Some of the most prominent and passionate online progressives are descending on the City of Brotherly Love this weekend for the 2019 Netroots Nation.

The yearly event, organized by progressive blog Dailykos, began in 2006 and will take place from Thursday to Sunday in the Philadelphia Convention Center.

By the morning, volunteers were already out roaming the streets near City Hall seeking to register voters.

Inside, there was a steady bustle as old friends re-connected, young activists learned from vets and national reporters roamed the halls.

There’s a radio row, but this being 2019, there’s as many podcast and YouTube programs as radio shows. 

Definitely the most distinctive feature, though, is the Town Square. The large open-air space featured about eighty booths from groups like ActBlue, EMILY’s List, and Planned Parenthood. Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead stopped by for a book signing.

Despite the more high-profile events, the heart of the convention are individual training sessions and issue-specific panels, hundreds of which that are spaced out over all three days.

Perhaps the most notable guest today was Attorney General Eric Holder, who served in President Obama’s cabinet from 2009 to 2015. Holder was a featured panelist for a forum on the 2020 Census, an event amplified by President Trump’s announcement this morning that he would hold an afternoon press conference to advocate for the inclusion of a citizenship question. By Thursday evening, the administration had backtracked.

Moderator Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia election lawyer, got things started by asking Holder “What the hell is going on?”

“Welcome to Trump’s America,” he responded before adding a tinge of hope. “Only for awhile, if we get out to work.”

The former AG gave an impassioned plea for a fair counting of the Census.

“The fate of our nation is at stake,” he declared at one point. “The fate of our democracy is at stake.”

In addition to arguing that the 2020 election was existentially important, Holder also emphasized the need to win as many seats as possible on the state level to insure a fair redistricting process.

Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

After all, the Town Square contained such stress reducers as a ping-pong table, foosball, skee-ball and pop-a-shot.

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