Progressives look to 2020 at Netroots Nation conference | US news


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Netroots activists offer hope for 2020

The largest gathering of progressives in the country got under way in New Orleans on Thursday. It’s the thirteenth Netroots meeting – but the event has taken on a new significance since the 2016 election and the subsequent wave of activism and progressive candidates for office.

A number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have travelled to Louisiana for the event as they bid to tout their progressive credentials. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker will be in attendance over the next few days as Democrats begin to jostle for a primary race which has almost already begun.

Elizabeth Warren at Netroots



Elizabeth Warren. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Republicans have suggested the leaders’ attendance at Netroots shows the Democratic party hewing to the left – a claim few progressive activists would agree with. Such claims by the GOP haven’t affected attendance. As the Guardian’s Lauren Gambino writes:


There is a similarly emboldened feeling among the participants gathered here, as the progressive movement continues to gain momentum across the country. On the opening night, speakers mocked the “mythical middle” while the crowd cheered the increasing racial and gender diversity of the panels and presenters.

“What you see up here is not just the future of the Democratic party but the future of the country,” said Arshad Hasan, the Netroots Nation board chair.

Candidates for Michigan governor offer hope for progressive Democrats

Bernie Sanders is off to Michigan on Sunday, to weigh in for Abdul El-Sayed in the state’s gubernatorial race. El-Sayed, a 33-year-old doctor and advocate of a single-payer healthcare system, is running behind Gretchen Whitmer, who has gained strong support from women’s groups, environmental groups and organized labor.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with Abdul El-Sayed



Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigns with Abdul El-Sayed in Detroit. Photograph: Paul Sancya/AP

Voting takes place in the Democratic primary on 7 August, in what Gambino writes is a fiercely fought primary race that has become a test of the strength and impact of the progressive left’s political insurgency.


Democrats are desperately working to regain their foothold in the rust belt states that helped elect Trump in 2016. With competitive primaries in both parties, Democrats here are divided over which candidate has the best chance of succeeding the Republican governor Rick Snyder, who is term-limited.

Whitmer says her campaign is uniquely positioned to attract voters from the progressive left and the “reasonable right”. El-Sayed has little interest in appealing to Republicans. He says Democrats will win only with a more daring platform that engages young, working class and disaffected voters.

The third candidate is Shri Thanedar, an Indian immigrant and chemical testing entrepreneur who has poured more than $10m of his own fortune into his campaign, blanketing the state with TV ads, billboards and mailers that promote him as the “most progressive” Democrat in the race. This has been challenged by a report that Thanedar contemplated running as a Republican.

What we’re reading

Donald Trump might have caused unrest in the US, “but he’s also inspired America’s youth to action”, writes Qadira Miner, a 16-year-old poet and activist from Birmingham, Alabama. “Many of us didn’t have to consider politics as intensely when Barack Obama was president,” Miner says. “Generation Z, some have said, has taken for granted the basic liberties we’re the first to grow up with, like the right to marry no matter your sexual preference. This may have been the case before, but it was all turned on its head when Trump was elected.”



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