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First POST: Power Brokers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, July 21 2014

Why Microsoft's Bradford Smith is so influential in tech policy; the split between DailyKos and Netroots Nation; how the GOP is wooing conservative and libertarian techies; and much, much more. Read More

What Howard Dean Sees in the Future of People-Powered Politics

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, June 20 2013

Former Vermont Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean. Photo: Steve Bott / Flickr

Never mind fear of growing government surveillance or anger at a dysfunctional Congress, progressive Democrats. Howard Dean, the former Democratic presidential hopeful and architect of the "50-state strategy", told a roomful of progressives Wednesday night that the left has plenty of reason for optimism. At Netroots Nation, what you might call the premier gathering of the amateur or semi-pro left, there will surely be more celebration. But as Dean celebrates the 10-year anniversary of his people-powered campaign, the netroots have cause for worry, too. Read More

FWD.us Unwelcome at Netroots Nation, Says Conference Head

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, May 3 2013

FWD.us, the Silicon Valley advocacy organization now focused on immigration form, is at least nominally pursuing a grassroots strategy. But it won't be welcome at one of this year's biggest and most influential grassroots political gatherings, Netroots Nation — even though the event will be in the heart of Silicon Valley. Read More

In Defense of Change at Change.org

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 25 2012

Photo Felix Burton/Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the news broke on the Huffington Post and the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) blog that Change.org, the fast-growing online petition and campaign site, was altering its operating model to become a more open platform, I've been amazed and dismayed by the reaction of many self-styled progressives. On a daily basis, Change.org continues to help ordinary people do things like beat back greedy corporations, confront brutality, and defeat discrimination, while enabling large organizations with broadly similar goals pay for the privilege of reaching lots of those ordinary people too. But the reaction of these self-styled progressives to Change's changes is important. It suggests that the word progressive itself may no longer have much useful meaning, or that in the new context of networked hyper-democracy, it has to be redefined. Read More

For Netroots Candidate Darcy Burner, Third Time's Not the Charm?

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, August 7 2012

When primary voters in Washington's 1st Congressional District go to the polls today, one of the names on the ballot might be more familiar to them than others. That would be Darcy Burner, a netroots favorite who's running along with six other Democrats to succeed former Rep. Jay Inslee, who retired from the seat earlier this year to run for governor.

Last week, Ted Cruz rode a wave of Tea Party anti-establishment energy to win the Texas Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Burner's election is an opportunity for progressives to elect someone with a similar level of ideological purity, someone who was a keynote speaker at the popular Netroots Nation conference and received endorsements from the likes of MoveOn.org, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas and Alan Grayson. Up until now, it seemed as if Burner was going to come out on top in the race between the Democrats — but an ad blitz from her main Democratic rival Suzan DelBene and the vagaries of the immediate pre-primary campaign seemed to be edging her out yet again headed into Tuesday.

[Update Wednesday:] Burner lost, conceding to DelBene in a race in which Burner was badly outspent by the other leading Democrat. DelBene, progressive blogger Matt Stoller told us before election night, injected the race with $1.9 million of her own money before launching an ad blitz that observers say contributed to her victory.

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The Case for Political Software as a Commodity, Not a Weapon

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, July 13 2012

It's the people, stupid. That's the message that some progressives have for colleagues like Netroots Nation's Raven Brooks, who called for a boycott of the political software startup NationBuilder, and Matt Browner Hamlin, who says he'll stop recommending the software to clients, all because NationBuilder has struck a deal to provide software to Republican candidates for state legislatures. Read More

NationBuilder Signs Software Deal with RSLC, Some Progressives Call for a "Boycott"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, July 12 2012

A core group of progressive political strategists are in some cases boycotting the political software firm NationBuilder and in others are steering business elsewhere after the company announced it had reached a deal with the Republican State Leadership Committee.

"At this point, I don't think it's in the interest of progressive causes and candidates to keep supporting a platform that's basically taking a side," Raven Brooks told techPresident. Brooks is the executive director of Netroots Nation, a conference that thousands of left-leaning bloggers, activists and Democratic strategists attend each year to brush up on their organizing and movement-building skills.

NationBuilder sells low-cost, web-based software for movements, including political campaigns. The deal upsets people on the left because co-founders Jim Gilliam and Joe Green both have pedigrees in progressive politics: Gilliam co-founded Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films, and Green, a founder of Causes, was regional field director in northwest Arizona for Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

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