Ahead of 2018's midterm elections, progressive organizers are convening in New Orleans with a focus on local campaigns — and on lessons learned from local movements, like the election of Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
More than 3,000 people are expected to join the politically progressive organizing conference Netroots Nation this week. Among its headlining speakers are Democratic U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, as well as New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, among others.
Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and others to speak
Touting her background in community organizing and the success of her 2017 mayoral campaign, Cantrell called on progressive activists to join her call for economic justice, adding, “We have work to do.”
During a brief keynote address Thursday, Cantrell pointed to racial disparities among businesses earning city contracts and called for New Orleans residents to earn a larger piece of the tax revenue that the city’s hospitality industry generates for the rest of the state.
“It’s off the backs [of workers] right here in New Orleans,” she said. “I want and I need your help as we push for economic justice.”
Over a raucous standing ovation, Cantrell also demanded “health and environmental justice” and racial equality. “No one matters if everyone doesn’t matter,” she said.
While previous years' gatherings have pushed a “resistance” platform against President Donald Trump’s administration, this year’s Netroots conference is highlighting a growing “new American majority” demographic of voters of color ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and 2020 presidential election.
Democracy In Color director Aimee Allison said women of color are empowered to support progressive candidates not only against the GOP but also in districts “where tired old moderates aren’t fighting for us.”
Media's labor organizing efforts — and obstacles — are focus of several panels
Cantrell was among several speakers on the conference’s opening day, along with Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who won 93 percent of the vote in 2017 after running on an “unapologetically progressive agenda,” declaring that Jackson would become “the most radical city on the planet,” he said.
When asked how he felt the morning after Trump’s election, Lumumba said, “I woke up in Mississippi.”
“We’ve always been at the bottom,” he said. “We have to make our politics local, and start giving power to local areas and become places that rescue themselves.”
Texas Democratic congressional candidate Gina Ortiz Jones — who, if elected, would be her district’s first-ever female representative and the first Filipina-American member of Congress from Texas — said Congress can do three things: “create opportunities, protect opportunities, or erase opportunities.”
“Let’s take our country back and let’s give them hell,” she said.
Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist leading a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, also addressed the crowd.
“We have to return power to the people in this country, but most importantly, the vast majority of Americans are generous, hardworking people who are not being heard,” Steyer said. “How many people in this room think the Democratic establishment is listening to you and doing what you want?”