Tea Party (Nashville). Netroots (Las Vegas)

Watching the expansive media coverage of the right-wing Tea Partiers’ meeting in February, I’m wondering if a similar, lefty meeting would receive equal attention. Judging from the media blitz garnered by the Tea Partiers, a being landing on Earth from Mars might get the impression that America’s only political agenda is that of the far-right wing of the Republican spectrum.

So, I started searching around for a national meeting of progressive Democrats that I could attend, where we could draw attention to our ideas about social and economic justice, and demonstrate that there is, in fact, support in America for them.

What I found, of course, is Netroots Nation, an annual convention of progressive bloggers, scheduled for July 22-25, 2010.

The fifth annual gathering of the Netroots (formerly known as the YearlyKos Convention) will be held July 22-25 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Netroots Nation 2010 will include panels led by national and international experts; identity, issue and regional caucuses; prominent political, issue and policy-oriented speakers; a progressive film screening series; and the most concentrated gathering of progressive bloggers to date.

That’s all I found. It’s not exactly parallel to the Tea Baggers convention, it doesn’t have as catchy and easily identifiable name, and it falls far short of a national progressive convention. But it’s something. And I hope that this year’s organizers can be as effective as the Tea Party folks in getting media coverage. We need to be louder and prouder, and not afraid to speak up and call out the hypocrisy of the right when see it. I truly believe that America does support the progressive agenda—without even knowing it. But that’s a different blog post…

My question is: Did Netroots really have to choose Las Vegas for this year’s meeting? Let’s review: The Tea Party meets in Nashville, a city with a down-home, god-bless-the-USA, country- music image. Netroots goes to Vegas, the belly of the profligate, self-indulgent, risk-taking beast. The Netroots Nation website justifies Las Vegas as the home of their first efforts to combat right-wing anti-immigration policies, and a fitting place to come home to for their fifth convention. They have a point. But if the news media actually show up, Las Vegas could turn out to be a very unfortunate choice, easy fodder for satire, and a way of undermining Netroots Nation’s own message. I can already imagine a Daily Show segment poking fun at it.