Last week, I represented the Brennan Center at the 2012 Netroots Nation conference in Providence Rhode Island. I joined thousands of organizers, activists, and progressive organizations at this annual conference, which featured a smattering of trainings and panels on progressive issues, with the goal of exciting and uniting progressives across the country.
But with the results of the Wisconsin recall hanging over everyone’s heads, coupled with the weak unemployment numbers this quarter, there was only one lesson from the conference: progressives are fed up with our broken systems. And they’re looking for solutions.
So the Brennan Center presented them.
On Thursday, Democracy Program counsel Mimi Marziani presented at a Brennan Center-sponsored lunch on how to make our election systems better. Mimi spoke at length about the Brennan Center’s legal battles in the war on voting, the fight to overturn Citizens United, and the Center’s efforts to build a new, lasting progressive jurisprudence.
Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel in the Democracy Program, spoke on a panel Saturday, advocating for voter registration modernization, a policy that would automatically add millions of eligible voters to the rolls nationwide. Voter registration modernization is the centerpiece of the Voter Empowerment Act, a bill recently introduced by Rep. John Lewis (D – Ga.).
And Nicole Austin-Hillery, director of the Center’s D.C. office, gave a stunning speech at Saturday’s lunch keynote on criminal justice in America. She encouraged everyone to share their stories and to talk about the underlying racism in our criminal justice system. “Don’t wait for another Trayvon moment to become emboldened,” she said.
Netroots proved these issues are at the forefront of the progressive agenda. There’s a lot of work to do, but here’s a place to start.