The short version: Go right now to Democracy for America’s website and apply for a scholarship to attend Netroots Nation 2010 in Las Vegas. If you don’t have the time this summer, consider supporting a deserving activist’s scholarship with a contribution. And either way, you should vote for people who you believe can make a difference for progressive causes. My choice: Missouri’s own STL Activist Hub.
If you still need motivating, read on.
The long version: It’s fairly easy to get depressed when surveying the state of progressivism in Missouri. Ultra-conservative Republicans remain ascendant in Jefferson City and maintain an edge in Missouri’s congressional representation. Heck, progressivism doesn’t even necessarily reign supreme among elected Democrats in this state. Investigative print journalism is in decline in the state, both in the number of reporters and in overall readership. Labor unions continue to decline in membership. And overall, there seems to me to be a lack of cohesiveness among the various parts of a possible progressive coalition. What this means is that our government ignores progressive tax reform while our budget is broken, state services continue to be cut, and regressive social legislation keeps getting rammed down our throat.
That’s not to say that the situation is hopeless. There are progressive cores in the metropolitan areas, including some strong organizers even in Springfield. And I cited a general lack of cohesiveness among the parts of a possible progressive coalition, but there are indeed progressive institutions around the state.
What I have thought for a long time that we need more of is a greater progressive online presence. Right now, conservatives have an NRA chapter, multiple fundamentalist churches, and a Chamber of Commerce in virtually every single community in Missouri. There is no progressive counterpart present in the daily life of every community in Missouri. If someone holds progressive beliefs in a conservative community, it’s difficult for him or her to find an outlet to express themselves and often to even get the basic information they need to combat a steady drumbeat of misinformation by conservative institutions. This is precisely why conservatives have turned to online organizing in areas where they are outnumbered, like St. Louis.
There are of course a few progressive websites in Missouri. I mean, you’re reading a progressive Missouri blogger right now! But few are as promising as Adam at St. Louis Activist Hub. He has singlehandedly built a site that continually links up progressive voices in the St. Louis region as well as pushes back against conservative lies. And the former is just as important as the latter, if not more so, because making something that people want to be a part of means creating a discussion about what you are for, not just what you are against.
But if you, dear reader, also believe that what you are doing is worth DFA sending you to Las Vegas for Netroots Nation 2010, then please apply! The winner of the scholarship will get free conference registration and a free hotel room for the duration of the conference, a chance to learn from some of the best online political activists on the planet, and to network with bloggers and activists from around the country. I can personally speak to how rewarding it can be to attend Netroots Nation. I’ve been 3 times and went as a DFA scholar last year. And the year before that, our very own Blue Girl was a DFA scholar for NN08. Make sure one of you joins us in that tradition this summer.