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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Panel-Mania

[note: this is the third in a series of posts on the YearlyKos conference in Chicago] I alluded to this in my Friday post, but the vast scope of talk was one of the most striking features of the YearlyKos conference, which added to its depth but detracted a bit from its sense of community. According to the official 72-page program (which reminded me of the tomes I used to haul around to find things at National League of Cities meetings), there were 35 workshops, 31 roundtables, and 42 panels, not to mention 34 “caucus” meetings, the break-out sessions held by most of the presidential candidates, and the (relatively few) “plenary” sessions.
After sitting through a couple of panels, I decided to “float” for a while in order to get a better sense of all the topics under discussion.
One of the largest panel discussions (never did quite figure out the distinctions between panels, workshops and roundtables) was entitled: “Ned Lamont for Senate: What really happened?” This session was enlivened by an apparently unexpected appearance by Lamont himself, who credited the blogosphere with the initial viability of his candidacy.
During the time I was in the room, all the discussion of the Lamont campaign focused on his primary win rather than his general election loss. This brought home once again that the whole Lamont-Lieberman experience can be used to reinforce diametrically opposed points of view about the future direction of the Democratic Party (personally, I think the contest was entirely sui generis, and of limited predictive value).
I also stopped by a session called “Blogging While Female,” featuring Pandagon’s Amanda Marcotte (one of the famous former Edwards bloggers), TAPPED’s Garance Franke-Ruta, Feministing’s Jessica Valenti, and YearlyKos organizer Gina Cooper. The talk there focused to a large extent on the hate mail and very personal threats of violence many women in the blogosphere routinely encounter, to the point where some have felt constrained to enlist protection from law enforcement officials. The chilling examples the panelists provided certainly shamed people like me who have in the past gotten agitated and aggrieved by the occasional email or comment-thread insult (you know, corporate whore, AIPAC stooge, Republican Lite, etc., etc.).
There was also some discussion of the overall lack of diversity in the blogosphere, which has been a source of general anxiety at this and at the first YearlyKos. To tell the truth, the overall gender (and for that matter, age) balance at the conference, as measured subjectively, seemed to be better than I would have expected. But it was most definitely a highly honkified event, with less racial diversity than, say, the DLC conference in Nashville (something the DLC has worked on for many years). Diversity concerns were reportedly one reason YearlyKos organizers have decided to rename next year’s event “Netroots Nation,” as part of an effort to expand participation well beyond the readership of DailyKos.

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