Success Stories at Netroots Nation

I’m at a panel called “Working from the Inside Out: Success Stories in Netroots Organizing”

Tim Karr of Free Press: Talking about the COPE Act in 2006. (Dealing with Net Neutrality) Worked with MoveOn and the netroots. Mentioned Ask a Ninja even doing videos in favor of net neutrality. Killed the bill. Wonky peeps at free press worked with bloggers to figure out how to do messaging.

Joan McCarter: Talks about FISA.

Liz Rose of the ACLU: How to deal with bloggers: pretty much the same as reporters. Give them information, make sure they understand it, understand who you’re talking to (read their stuff beforehand). pretty much the same as reporters, but 24-hours-a-day. “Know who you’re sending stuff to, do it on a regular basis and have a dialogue with them”

Andre Banks of Color of Change: There are lots of people who don’t think of themselves as activists but talk to their friends about politics, etc. Here’s a success story – Jena 6. No one was paying attention to this except Democracy Now!. So we needed to draw attention, pressure governor, and raise money for legal defense. Partnered with black bloggers. THey did research, investigations, asked the right questions and turned this into a story people care about. We mobilized people to go to Jena, raised money for their defense.

There seems to be a lot of emphasis on wonky institutions (ACLU, Free Press) taking complicated legal issues and turning them into digestible issues that people can understand. Perhaps blogs contain people who are good at that sort of thing?

Adam Green of Moveon: When I was lobbying re:Net Neutrality, I heard a lot of this sort of talk: “Net Neutrality is a golden ring, we have to be incremental, etc” What I realized was that staffers on the hill didn’t know that there was a movement of people willing to go to bat for them. Byron Dorgan knows it, because he works with us a lot. We can put pressure on his colleagues where he can’t. We can do stuff a lot more quickly than meetings on the hill – Open Left project of calling a bunch of candidates to see where they stand on net neutrality. Last year re-NN. August last year was a unique opportunity. Senators left the beltway, and then we had constituents see them during recess. 6 new senators came off the fence then because they outside the lobbyist/telco axis. Lesson – look for opportunities to strike, and strike then. For 2008 – we wanted to get people on the record during the primary. We couldn’t do it during the YearlyKos questions, but we got MTV and Myspace forum to ask it to Obama (through 10Questions), and he rsponded beautifully.

Adam Green’s lessons – wait for a moment to strike. And put as many of your people on the inside as possible.

joan McCarter – have an ally in the senate, for example, to tell you who to target, etc.

Tim Karr – 1 million petitions gives us leverage and opens doors in Washington.

Time for questions!

Question – how do we deal with working on issues / people who we might not agree with? Jena 6, for example, had people who had history of bad behavior.

A: We weren’t trying to say that the Jena 6 were saints, we were arguing that they weren’t getting equal treatment under the law.

A2: It’s about progressive issues, not progressive people. Because we can disagree with people, but agree about the issues.

Q: What do you mean when you talk about working on the outside and inside? Brass Tacks. What exactly do you want bloggers to do?

A: There are two ways for people on the outside to go to the inside. Invasion or allies. Allies – one idea is have friendly staffers mingle with bloggers. personal connections between bloggers and staffers. Invasion – make sure you have “your people” in strategic places, campaigns, become chiefs of staff etc.

MoveOn and Markey collaboration – Got Markey to video “i need your help to find cosponsors”. this gets moveon members galvanized and know what to do.

Q: Confusing. I don’t understand what he’s asking. Something about the progressive machine and collaboration, etc.

A; There’s a lot of cooperation between the big groups.¬† Media vs Bloggers: Media are competitive, but bloggers, if they see a good story, have no compunction about linking to other bloggers, commenting, “swarming” etc.

A: State-level policymakers especially read blogs. “Oh yes I know about this issue because there’s a blogger in my district who cares a lot about it”

A: FCC example Рthe fcc was isolated from the public for decades. And suddenly when we have millions  of petitions swarming them and public commenting etc: we push them.

Q: Information disparity between inside and outside. Inside has CRS, expertise, Court documents. What aspects of the open government / sunlight movement are helpful/rpmising?

A: Exciting News! We at Daily Kos a’re going to have a capitol hill blog to help with that.
A: We’re having a panel on this later.

A: In our experience, the pieces of information regarding black people are usually very well hidden.

Q: I couldn’t catch it. Something about FISA

A: Leverage Byrd rather than Rockefeller. (Regarding FISA) Get people excited about it in West Virginia.

A: Countering false talking points is always Job 1.

A: Persistence even when you don’t think what you say matters.

A: When we put pressure on people they think they can ride it out. Like “it’ll blow over”. How do we deal with this? General Strategy – don’t let them weather it out, find a avenue to get to them. Jay Rckefeller, for example. We can’t primary him for another 6 years. But I assume he cares what people think of him. Maybe a billboard outside his house saying “jay rockefeller, why are you selling out the constitution?” will get to him

Q; States

A: National groups don’t have the institutional capacity to follow all state-level stuff. that’s where you come in. If you figure out what happens in the state and contact us, we can help.

Q: Comment – Politicians love organizations. Easier for them to understand.

A; Politicans are terrified of librarians.

Q: missed it (they have no mics)

A: Check out the Pew Center on the States.

A; One problem of media consolidation is that local paprs aren’t covering city ahll anymore.

Q; Check out the progressie states network.

My Question – I work for Roosevelt, national network of student think tanks on campuses, etc. What I’m wondering is what sort of DC information grassroots activists and think-tankers can use. Drawing off your experiences, what sort of information can insiders give to the grassroots to help?

intelligence on individuals. tactics that can target them.
in dc thers a tendency to hoard information. But what people are learning is that power is made by sharing information.
lobbyists – this is too ocmplicated for you to understand. let us thing about that for you. (to citizens but also politicians)

Information goes both ways. we learned as much from people doing youtube videos as consultnats.