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YearlyKos: Thanks For the Memories!

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 6, 2007 1:44PM

Yesterday, we focused on the presidential candidates that made their way to the YearlyKos Convention at McCormick Place. But the event wasn't just Democratic hopefuls trying to connect with bloggers and grassroots activists from around the nation. The annual event was also an opportunity for progressives around the country to get out from behind their laptops for a few days and talk to each other, sharing tactics, experiences, pitfalls, strategies and ideas, networking with other parts of the "big-tent" coalition that traditionally makes up the Democratic Party, and the left in general.

2007_8_richardson_at_yearlykos.JPGBesides getting to meet friends that they had never seen in person before, Netroots activists got the opportunity to a hear veritable cornucopia of speakers, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Sidney Blumenthal, former senior adviser to President Clinton, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores, Matt Bai, who writes on national politics for the New York Times Magazine, Kit Batten, the Director of Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress, Jon Soltz, Co-Founder and Chairman of, and SEIU President Andy Stern. Besides speeches, they had the chance to sit in on panels on faith-based organizing and social justice, attend a caucus on race, class, or knitting, do a workshop where they might learn how to produce video, organize a precinct, and or get a job working in politics (always a popular topic at events like this).

If Rush Limbaugh demonstrated the power of right-wing radio on voters at the grassroots level, DailyKos demonstrates how good the left has gotten at internet activism. A diverse set of issues, strategies and perspectives was represented at YearlyKos; from middle of the road liberals to far left radicals, they're all there, talking to each other, making plans and arguing the points of their beliefs. Even though presidential candidates want in on the action, it's the local candidates the ones that local voters and activists are knocking on doors and talking to neighbors about that are reinvigorating the party at the local level. There was no shortage of people wearing campaign buttons from past fights in their localities, and plenty of stickers for candidates we'll never hear of, but who matter immensely to the people who want to elect them.

Standing on the Lakefront Terrace of McCormick Place, munching on a burger at a cook-out hosted by the Teamsters, one gets the feeling that Kos has done what no other left media type has succeeded at before: reconnecting the old pieces of the Democratic Party with the young, energized fighters that want their coalition back. Markos talks about taking back back democracy, about electing Democrats and holding them accountable for their actions in office. In the crowd of cheering activists, there are a hundred stories, many that will never be told outside of their respective local districts. Jim Hoffa Jr tells a brief story about reforming the labor movement, and about the importance of working with people who will never read a blog, and putting their stories into the minds of people who do. He talks about making sure that people that drive trucks for a living understand the importance of FISA and ending the war in Iraq.

AC/DC's Back in Black plays as Bill Richardson takes the stage to address the crowd, and you can feel a tactile sense of excitement in the crowd. Howard Dean may have lost the primary that cold night in Iowa, but here in Chicago on a hot August evening, his dream of rebuilding that big old tent looks like it's taken root.

Image via biverson