The next Netroots Nation will be in Phoenix. So of course, half the liberals who attend the annual hippie hoe-down immediately announced that they were not exactly boycotting, just not attending the next Netroots Nation, including the founder of the event, Markos Moulitsas. Remember, the function started as “Yearly Kos.”
I get his arguments, truly I do. I make them myself, or arguments very much like them, to my cousins in the rural parts of my own state. It’s easy to be a liberal in Seattle, or Portland, or Eugene, or San Francisco, or Berkeley, or Boston, or Austin or even in Kansas City or St. Louis. But try it in Tucson, Cheyenne, Mountain Home, Colorado Springs or Wichita (I know…I’ve been a liberal in a lot of the aforementioned places). And since we’re doing a thought exercise anyway, lets take the internet out of the equation, because it wasn’t really an organizing tool before Howard Dean made it so in 2004.
In the run-up to the Iraq war, I had two small, maybe 3×3 stickers, one said “Peace is Patriotic” and the other said “No War on Iraq” in the back window of my little economy Ranger pickup, and on my way to work one night, an asshole in a giant Chevy 4-wheel drive tried to push my truck into oncoming traffic as I sat at a red light at 23rd and Sterling Avenue, on my way to Independence Regional Health Center. The light changed and I got away from him, but I got his tag number and a pretty good description of the jerk — and his bumper sticker that said “THIS TIME, ANTI-WAR IS ANTI-AMERICAN” and when I got to the hospital and clocked in I called the cops.
You know what the cops told me?
“This is a patriotic town, you probably ought to take that inflammatory sticker off of your truck.”
I asked the cop if he had a DD-214, and he didn’t know what that was. I explained it was a discharge from the military, and I had earned my right to be a peacenik the hard way, unlike him or, probably, the asshole in the Chevy pickup.
One of my favorite bonus-kids lives in Phoenix, so I’m going. Partly to see Jason, and partly because it’s fucking hard to be a liberal in Arizona. I know. I’ve tried. I lived in Tucson during the Sanctuary movement.
There are liberals in Arizona that do a hell of a lot more than type. I intend to go support them.
Got respect for red-state liberals yet? Because you damn sure ought to have.
Let me tell you a story. It’s about how I started blogging. I had just finished a brutal week. It was a year after the HCA takeover of the Health Midwest system, and the effects were starting to be felt. We had already had a steady rotation of lab directors at the “flagship hospital” that lasted, on average, about 15 weeks – and it was not my first HCA rodeo. They inherited my whistle-blowing ass, there is no way in hell they would have hired me. Anyway, I was a supervisor and I didn’t ask anything of my staff that I wasn’t willing to do myself. Since my staff was working, on average, 60 hours a week, I worked at least 70. I had gone to work at 0600 on Friday and clocked out at 2230 (10:30 p.m.) and come home to take a quick shower to was the hospital off me and I fell into a bed made with clean sheets.
The next morning my husband collected all the cell phones and made sure the handsets to the cordless were on the first floor and on low, and he had threatened the very lives of our spawn if they disturbed me.
About 9:00 he heard me get up and go to the bathroom, and he came up and asked me if I was ready for coffee and the newspapers, and he would get them I should get back in bed. About ten minutes later he brought me a quad-shot espresso with plenty of Bailey’s and a shot of spiced rum, a bagel and the newspapers. All was bliss for about 20 minutes then I read something that got me started.
I think Tom was just looking for the brakes that morning when he said “Why are you telling me this? I already agree with you. You need to convince people who don’t.”
Maybe it was the Bailey’s and the Captain Morgan making me bold, but a lightbulb came on. “You’re absolutely right,” I told him as I kissed his cheek, put on my robe, stuck the newspaper with the offending article under my arm, took my coffee and headed for the home office. “Brew a pot of the regular kind and go get more Bailey’s if you need to. This may take a while.”
Two hours and three cups of “coffee” later, I was a blogger and I came out swingin.’
See, I live in one of those places that the republicans couldn’t get control of fair-and-square, so they cheated. They gulled the outstaters into enshrining term-limits in the state constitution. That was a fight that was over and done with by the time I moved to KC. I live in one of the states where ALEC puppets are running a meth-lab of democracy and it’s hard. I have literally had my life threatened for my political leanings, so spare me the righteous stand. There is a lot of offensive shit coming out of Jeff City, and I’m sure there are people who are taking a principled stand against visiting our state or spending money here. Too bad. You would find that Kansas City and St. Louis are vibrant, progressive, cities with live music and arts scenes that are driving independent revivals of areas of both cities, and where music happens, liquor flows and food follows. Both cities have been blessed with a few top-notch chefs who paid their dues in New York, San Francisco or New Orleans, then to find they were priced out of the market when they wanted to open their own place. They were able to rent or buy spaces they could only dream about in the big-three, throw in the selection of fresh, local ingredients, the fact they can hire top-quality sous chefs and garde mangers.
But this isn’t a diary about why people choose to live here…it’s a diary about why I will be attending next year, and why I understand why Markos won’t. I am not a young, Latino male; I’m a middle aged white woman. I will move about freely and not worry about being profiled. Markos, by virtue of his hair and eye color and skin tone, would automatically register on every law enforcement officer’s personal radar that he happened to cross paths with. If I’m trying to break in someplace, a cop is more likely to help me than stop me and ask me what the hell I’m up to.
But ultimately, Netroots is a DFA thang now, and I haven’t forgotten 2006.
For those who don’t know, Democracy for America is what Dean for America grew up to be. And those grassroots organizing skills, in the belly of the beast, having a candidate in every race…that let the Democrats take the majority in 2006. It’s the nature of the DFA beast to take the fight to the enemy. They may not win every battle, but they win enough to keep charging hard. They remember how Jim Ryun, of all people, found himself in trouble thanks to the Tom DeLay fallout, and Nancy Boyda was in the race already, and capitalized on his ethics troubles and won. She beat the Olympic gold medalist track star. She didn’t have national party backing until the final few days, when it looked like she might actually win…but she had DFA backing all along. I know. I was one district over in the safe-for-Emanuel-Cleaver Missouri 5th, and the Missouri 6th is a lost cause until a Democrat runs like a Democrat. So I was phone-banking for Nancy Boyda like a mad woman, and I was not alone. At that time, the greater Kansas City area had a very active DFA chapter and we were all working for Boyda. It seemed impossible when we started, but the mighty Ryun was felled, and without the national party that tried to swoop in at the last minute with an ad buy and pretend like they saved the day. Please. I know better, because I was in the trenches and they were nowhere to be found, but DFA was.
So I’m going. I didn’t ask for the privilege that white skin and red hair and five decades of life will automatically extend to me while I’m there, but I have it, and I intend to make the most of it.
Besides, it’s been thirty years since I’ve seen an Arizona sunset, and that’s just too damned long.