- Provides a framework that enables leftwing activist bloggers to network and collaborate with one another
- Holds a major annual conference featuring hundreds of guest speakers
- Works to aid the political fortunes of leftist Democrats
Founded in 2006, Netroots Nation (NN) derives its name from the term “Netroots,” which refers mainly to the left-wing bloggers who “gathe[r] every day in the virtual world to raise their collective voice and proactively influence their government.” A project of Bloggerpower.org., which was incorporated in California in 2006 “to promote activism toward a progressive policy agenda,” NN provides a framework that enables such individuals to network and collaborate with one another.
The centerpiece of NN’s activities is an annual convention featuring hundreds of guest speakers and presenters who address issues of concern to the political left. The first of these conventions—held in Las Vegas from June 8-11, 2006—was organized by readers and writers of the DailyKos blog, and was dubbed “YearlyKos.” That inaugural event drew some 1,200 attendees, and featured appearances by prominent Democrats such as Barbara Boxer, General Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Bill Richardson, and former Virginia governor Mark Warner.
The second YearlyKos convention was held in Chicago from August 2-5, 2007. Seven major Democratic presidential candidates attended this gathering and took part in a debate moderated by a select group of bloggers. The participants were Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson.
In 2008, YearlyKos was renamed “Netroots Nation” to better reflect the growing influence and membership of the Netroots as a whole, rather than just DailyKos. That year’s convention was held in Austin, Texas from July 17-20. Presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the attendees via a videotaped message.
The 2009 Netroots Nation conference was held in Pittsburgh from August 13-16. The 2010 conference was held in Las Vegas from July 22-25 and drew some 2,200 people. Guest speakers at the event included Deepak Bhargava, Robert Borosage, Joe Conason, Al Franken, Raul Grijalva, Harold Ickes, Van Jones, Gene Karpinski, Barbara Lee, Eliseo Medina, Jerrold Nadler, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jan Schakowsky, Ed Schultz, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Richard Trumka, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Wise, and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.
In 2011, the Netroots Nation conference was held June 16-19 in Minneapolis. Among the guest speakers were Nan Aron, Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Keith Ellison, Russ Feingold, Al Franken, Leo Gerard, Luis Gutierrez, Van Jones, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Eliseo Medina, Jerrold Nadler, Eli Pariser, Carl Pope, Jan Schakowsky, Randi Weingarten, and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.
Sponsors of the 2011 NN conference included ActBlue, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Alliance for Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the American Federation of Teachers, The American Prospect, the America’s Voice, the Blue Green Alliance, Change to Win, Common Cause, DailyKos, Democracy For America, the Democratic National Committee, Faith in Public Life, Fenton Communications, Friends of the Earth, the Human Rights Campaign, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Education Association, the New Organizing Institute, Planned Parenthood, Progress Now, Salsa Labs, the Service Employees International Union, and the Sierra Club. Among the exhibitors at the event were the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for Media and Democracy, Free Press, Free Speech TV, and People For the American Way.
Over the course of each year, NN holds a series of regional salons which, in conjunction with the annual convention, aim to “strengthen our [progressive] community, inspire action, and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.”
Netroots Nation’s board of directors consists of the following individuals:
- John Aravosis, a Washington, DC-based writer and political strategist who is the editor of AmericaBlog.com, and who formerly worked for the Children’s Defense Fund and the Economist
- Adam Bonin, a Philadelphia-based attorney who is a featured writer on the DailyKos front page, where he focuses on legal and regulatory matters
- Raven Brooks, who was initially drawn into politics during Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, and currently serves as NN’s executive director
- Cheryl Contee, co-founder of the popular blog Jack and Jill Politics
- Gina Cooper, a former high-school teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, who is the founder and chair emeritus of Netroots Nation
- Arshad Hasan, who joined Democracy For America in early 2005 and became that organization’s executive director in 2007
- Mary Rickles, NN’s director of communications and media, who previously worked in marketing and branding at San Francisco magazine
- Nolan Treadway, NN’s logistics director
- Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the DailyKos political blog.