2020 Dem Candidates Choose To Skip Netroots Nation: Why?
Netroots Nation is an annual convention that has been going on for 13 years. Approximately 3,000 attendees show up every year in order to talk about what’s going on with the country. It’s considered the largest conference for progressives, politically speaking.
With so many Dems touting that they are progressive, it would be expected that they would all show up, using this as a chance to connect with their voters. However, all but one was absent. The only one that chose to show up was Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).
Why did so many choose to skip it?
The activist left is strong at Netroots Nation. Many are confrontational and downright aggressive. This progressive grassroots platform has been insistent on the issues while taking a very liberal orthodoxy approach.
Many of the campaigns chose to play it safe or by sending their regrets. They didn’t want to deal with the aggressive tactics and be perceived as being so leftist that they wouldn’t be able to connect with the average Democrat, someone who veers to the left but not detrimentally so.
Many of the leftist activists demand on the record answers that are extremely specific. As such, candidates have to be very careful about what they say and where they say it. Otherwise, they can end up being the leader of a bad viral moment.
With all of the candidates being extremely calculated at how they control their message, it’s important to decide where they’re going to be. Aside from Warren, they decided that they weren’t ready to take on the extreme progressives.
Could the Dems be making a mistake?
It’s easy to see how the Democrats are being contradictory with their actions. All of the Democrats running in the 2020 primary are constantly boasting of their progressive outlook. Attending Netroots Nation would be the perfect opportunity to engage with some of the progressives. If they truly believe they are progressive, what do they have to worry about?
Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, a highly progressive website explains that their lack of attendance is as a result of fear. They’ve known that the conference was happening since March, so they could have easily scheduled to attend it.
Warren chose to face the firing squad – and plenty in attendance gave her props for showing up. Moulitsas said that the other Dems were stupid, and they have chosen to cede the ground to Warren.
Bernie Sanders was, perhaps, the most obvious no-show. After all, some of his platform topics, including Medicare for all, tended to be gospel for the progressive left. However, Sanders has been burned by the aggressive and incessant tactics that this organization tends to take. In 2015, he was either shouted down or disrupted by black lives matters protesters. Sanders told protesters that he wasn’t going to outshout them. He also said that it was okay if they didn’t want him to be there.
One reason Sanders was likely not in attendance is because of the rift between him and Moulitsas. Sanders’s campaign team questioned the objectivity that Moulitsas has. Sanders was given grief for attending a town hall for Fox news that skipping this major progressive event.
Sanders also has a habit of avoiding uncontrolled situations. He sticks to his traditional speeches and rallies while also avoiding questions from reporters.
Harris, who was at last year’s gathering, was only two hours away from where the Netroots Nation event took place. She cited “calendar issues” for not being in attendance. The list goes on of who couldn’t be bothered to show up.
It’s seen as avoiding embarrassment on some of the hottest issues going on in the country. The Democrats chose to avoid confrontation.
The press has been bird-dogging the candidates more frequently, especially for the 2020 elections. This is a phrase to closely watch someone while pinning a politician down on their position as an interruption to their public remarks. This is throwing many of the Democrats for a loop and they are choosing to avoid such tactics whenever possible.
It is possible that the bird-dogging is being done to ensure that the candidates are actually being honest. Rather than listening to what they have written down in a speech and recited in front of a mirror repeatedly prior to getting onto their soapbox, people want to find out what the candidates really think about particular issues.
Considering that Dems have chosen to avoid Netroots Nation event can be extremely telling about how they actually feel on some of the hottest topics – and plenty of progressives have taken note that Warren was the only brave soul.