YEARLYKOS, the convention that has Bill O'Reilly in a shivery snit, pays no mind to the quaking verbal fit that he and his ilk comfort themselves with. If nothing else, the idea that thousands of politically active (and generally financially comfortable, let's be real) people will gather to take part in their government is invigorating and exciting. We can argue about whether or not a certain party is overly calculating or effective or The Answer (and I am often part of that argument), but the actuality of so much energy and interest by so many people in the country's politics is inspiring.
The halls are crowded, the local restaurants and bars are crowded, and McCormick Hall, adjoined to the Hyatt is crowded with citizens wearing the Orange Necklace, as I think of it. The various tags that denote Volunteer, Media, Exhibitor (and others) tell you who is taking part in which way. I look for faces that I imagine I will recognize...which is odd, because the blogosphere is normally faceless. But there is that feeling that "I'm sure I know someone here," and I wasn't surprised. As my blog (which has a decent community and regular commenters) is written under a nom de plume, and OpEdNews.com will not allow me to use that pseudonym, I will not link that blog here. But I actually met more people than I expected who know my blog. (If you want to find me, I'm sure you can do it. Or just email me and I will send you the link.) This was very fun, and really added an important dimension to this arena that is so often a "virtual" space. Meeting some of these people who have read and do read me grounded the experience of blogging in the three-dimensional world, and that was good.
The majority of attendees were, of course, white, as was the case last year in Vegas, when YearlyKos got some criticism from the more melanin-gifted segments of the blogosphere for a 'movement' which did not fairly represent either the demographics of the nation or the world, but this year there were the Chicago 17,
as well as caucuses for Hispanic/Latinos (which I attended and filmed), as well as Native Americans, and African Americans in an attempt to focus on other voices and perspectives. (There may be other caucuses, but I did not note them on the schedule and I have to admit I have been flying around in a rush often, so that doesn't mean they are not there!) Joaquín Guerra, Governor Bill Richardson's Internet representative was at the Hispanic/Latino caucus, and we had some good words between us. We even made tentative plans to have a beer together. So not only are there good connections to be made at these types of events, but there are hops. And barley.
The attempt to bring diversity to the event culminated in the "Chicago Voices 17" or the "Chicago 17" group (of which I was one) who were invited to attend due to their strong voices and community involvement. This happened through their own efforts and the help of many like-minded activists and donors. One of the activists/bloggers who really did a lot to make this happen was Kid Oakland, a DailyKos blogger. I am rooming with Kid Oakland (Paul Delehanty), and he is a good man to know.
I won't lie; I'm not entirely happy with every speech made, or every agenda stated, or every person presenting. But I don't have to like them all, and with most of my life, I try to take what is helpful to me, and ignore the rest.
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Some things to ignore:
Howard Dean's vision of integration in today's society: kids wearing baggy pants means they don't "see" race. A man like Howard Dean, with the influence, bullhorn, and power that he has to imagine white youth appropriating black culture is somehow "integration," and that we should all be so colorbline does not comfort. I know he means well, but even many white people who listened to his address found these parts problematic.
Hillary Clinton, originally scheduled (or so we all thought) to attend a "breakdown session," which would give convention attendees personal access to her after her Leadership Forum (tomorrow), gave YearlyKos notice yesterday that this was a "communications snafu," and that she never planned on the breakdown session. This angered many bloggers, and last night there was, predictably, an article on the Huffington Post called "Effing Hillary Jilts YearlyKos." But this morning, it seems to be gone, a search won't locate it, and instead, Taylor Marsh has a (second) diary on the front page explaining
click here the aforementioned "snafu." This type of typical political maneuvering doesn't generally fly with the blogosphere, and neither does deleting a post. We prefer retractions and corrections, but not the use of a Memory Hole.
But of course, there are different ways to see things, and different points of focus for many of us. This is my point of view on a few things, and notes on a few experiences. I hope to post again before the convention is over. While I take issue with a few things, as I stated here, this is no means a thorough list of either my experiences or the convention as a whole. There is a lot going on here, crammed into only a few days, and one person can only cover so much. (I write a bit more in depth in my own blog, and generally write a bit less formally, as well as include photographs. One of my main purposes in coming to the convention was not only to feel out the event and see how I fit in, if at all, but also to shoot a documentary on the event, which will be posted on my blog as well, once completed.)
Overall, while politicians seem to remain politicians, and it remains difficult to bridge the gap in understanding between people of different ethnicities here in the United States of America, we keep trying. We keep hope. And we keep on keepin' on.
Now, the sun is shining hotly through the windows, and the el keeps roaring over the tracks, and soon it is time go head back to the convention. See you around, maybe there!