|So, yesterday I had the opportunity of watching a “Laughing Liberally” comedy show, produced exclusively for the conference by the folks at Living Liberally.
I mostly enjoyed the political comedy, which was hosted by DC comedian Elon James White. White is the host of the web series “This Week In Blackness”. The memorable performers included Lee Camp, whose Lewis Black-type rants were a big hit with the audience. Lizz Winstead, the co-creator of The Daily Show popped in to do a surprise guest set. Overall, subject matter was perfect for progressive crowd.
But, the real political theater did not begin until this morning when Nancy Pelosi began to address the crowd. And not just one, but two groups got up to protest.
One group unfolded a banner decrying Israel’s violent actions against the flotilla–“stop funding Israeli terror”–the banner read. These folks stood quietly next to the stage while Nancy Pelosi spoke. However, the other group was mostly disabled citizens in bright orange T-shirts, which they unveiled at the last minute. –Some were in wheelchairs. Their chant, “Our homes, not nursing homes”— was repeated over and over and over again all through Nancy Pelosi’s talk. To her credit, the Speaker of the House stopped at one point to ask the group for a spokesperson, to find out what their issue was. They had her attention, but had no spokesperson to articulate their issue. Congresswoman Pelosi continued to speak as the group continued to chant. Neither gave up the floor for the other. Perhaps in the future, progressive groups looking to protest should either take a number like at a deli counter. Or schedule their protests on the hour in advance.
The most interesting session I attended was a panel discussion on the use of social networking sites and issues advocacy. It was more than just a mere intro into Facebook, twitter, text messaging etc. It was an eye-opening program on exactly where the numbers are with regard to these sites. For example, Facebook worldwide currently has over 400 million subscribers. If Facebook were a nation, it would be the third largest nation in the world. Text messaging apparently is used more by African-American, Latino and immigrant groups as a primary source of communication with each other.
So, the message was if you’re organizing in a particular demographic, what’s most important is reaching them where they live–the medium really is the message.