Home Virginia Politics Gatekeepers to Teach Gate-Crashing at DPVA Summit?

Gatekeepers to Teach Gate-Crashing at DPVA Summit?


Crashing The Gate Book CoverVirginia is home to some of the top state-level progressive bloggers in the entire country. So this weekend’s The Virginia Summit organized by the Democratic Party of Virginia will take advantage of their experience & expertise, right?

Nope. The only point of view on people-powered politics will be the official party perspective:

4:00-5:30 – Concurrent Sessions 7: Roadmap to Victory Part 2 – Putting your values into action through social media, blogs and effective community organizing:


* Brian Coy, Communications Director, DPVA

* Marianne Von Nordeck, Press Secretary, Organizing for America – Virginia

Let me be clear that I’m not criticizing the panelists, but rather the decision to go with party insiders – the exact same ones from “Roadmap to Victory Part I: Messaging for 2011 & 2012.” At 10am, you may be getting party-line talking points. But at 4pm, those talking points will be your values!

Not Larry Sabato’s Ben Tribbett was named one of Virginia’s Top 10 Democratic Influencers (PDF). Blue Virginia’s Lowell Feld literally wrote the book on online progressive activism. And Waldo Jaquith was just recognized by the White House. Why not take advantage of these resources? I’ve contacted all three, and none were asked to participate.

To repeat: The White House recognizes the strength of Virginia’s online progressive community, but the Democratic Party of Virginia does not. Instead, The Virginia Summit will be just one more example of how DPVA takes them for granted – or worse, keeps their sometimes-dissenting voices at arm’s length.

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    they do not want any real grass roots people or orgs.  They call “grassroots” their own insiders at the local level.  And anyone who strays outside of their narrow mandate (obey orders from whomever their or DNC organizers are) is to be banned. The idea that they chose whom they chose shows how they just do not get it.  And I mean this as no negative judgment about the speakers.  They are just not those who know anything about “crashing the gate.”

    DPVA still doesn’t get that there are some advantages to having activists they cannot control. Instead, they are essentially control freaks and view everyone who works outside their narrow chain of command with the same mantra, “why are you hurting the party?”  How dare anyone try to do anything they have not prescribed or pre-ordained?  Well, given the utter lack of competent leadership of DPVA in recent years (and now), it is a good thing they are not going it alone.

    But I guess I have to add, who cares who was left out?  It is not worth worrying or even thinking about.  It is better this way.

  • Paradox13VA

    Well, I for one will be going to the Virginia Summit and am looking forward to it. Reform requires work from inside and outside, and I see this Summit as an opportunity to talk directly and publicly with party leadership. I’m going to be taking advantage of it.

  • clark

    I’ll be participating in a panel on Saturday morning re: local committeess. As chair of a local committee, I guess I’m a “party insider”. There has been substantial criticism of the DPVA on this blog and on others, and I suppose I get a bit irritated with this “insider” label. I have risen to a position in my committee after years and years of hard work, at what we would call the “grassroots” level. I am glad that I’m now in a position to make things happen at the local level, and as I continue to volunteer my time, hope to be able to get lessons learned from the local level incorporated at the state level. As a “party insider” I hope it’s ok to say that all committees, be them local or at the state level, need more work, more volunteers, more fresh ideas and energy.

    I have no idea who was invited to participate and who was not. I will say, however, that folks choose their own ways to seek reform. Whether folks feel they have been forced to seek reform from the outside (which is a debate in and of itself) several commentors on this site and others are taking the approach to critize the DPVA at every opening, and deride its leadership and staff. I’m not at all surprised that those who critize the DPVA at every turn were not invited to participate in a DPVA-sponsored summit. You can’t have it both ways.

    Let me be clear- I don’t think the DPVA has all the answers. I think there is tremendous value in what commentors on this site and others provide on a weekly basis. However, I do think a dynamic has been set up as “us vs them”, “insiders vs the establishment”, “the neglected vs the majority”, etc. and that in many ways folks like that dynamic. It exists throughout politics on many issues- in many respects this dynamic is real, though many times it is engineered or exacerbated intentionally to draw stark contrasts. However, it doesn’t have to be a pitched battle— in many respects this comes down to personalities.

    So, I’d like to see people check egos at the door (from both camps- the “establishmnet— whatever that is” and the “grassroots—- whatever that is”) and start trying to work together. I hope there is a good turnout at the Summit this weekend and that people do not choose not to attend because they aren’t happy one panelist or another wasn’t invited, and that conventional wisdom is challenged, good questions are asked, and folks are fired up moving into a set of critical elections.  

  • RebeccaJ

    I have my issues with the DPVA, which, like any organization, has its good and bad points. And, depending on who you talk with, I might or might not, be called an “insider.”

    But, I will say that there are many good folks “within” the extended Virginia Democratic Party system who are trying to make things better. And, it’s always good to have “insiders” who are rebels and reformists. We have a important job; to make things more accessible and open up the Party to as many folks as possible.

    The main thing is that we are all trying to make Virginia a better place for the poor and the voiceless.  

  • clark

    @Miles, we’ll see how the summit goes, you may very well be right that it’s not a good mix. To be honest, I haven’t paid attention to the other panels, etc. just given time to getting my own thoughts together and I haven’t been given any talking points or top down guidance. My comment was specifically about not being surprised by those who have been hyper-critical of the DPVA not being given a platform as this weekend’s summit.

    @Ben, we have never met before, we have never exchanged emails, I have never been asked by you my opinion on anything. It would be far too easy for me to call you names like you did to me- a “hack”, “pathetic”, etc. and write you off as an “outsider with a grudge” and, in doing so, set up the very dynamic I talk about in my original comment. Doing so would give me cover to not have to address issues you bring up. And, for you, writing someone you never met before off as “pathetic” and a “hack” and allows you to do the same. It’s this very dynamic that I don’t think has to exist, perpetuates the “circular firing squad” that both parties often refer to, and keeps us from moving forward. While the point of this diary was about the DPVA summit coming up this weekend and who was and wasn’t invited, and the value thereof in the summit, I’m happy to address this issue that you bring up. Yes, I think it is a valid issue to raise with regards to for-profit colleges. I didn’t have a vote for Chair, I didn’t endorse anyone for Chair, and to those that asked me, I said this was a valid issue to be raised and that it should be discussed. I hope that Chairman Moran can be a leader in reforming the industry from the inside- only time will tell. Regardless of those efforts though, yes, I do think it is a legitimate issue.

    On a personal note, I don’t need to be lectured about Alexandria and sending kids to college. For seven years I’ve coached the high school soccer team and set up SAT reviews and study halls, working with my players to get them into 2 and 4 year schools. During that time I have run a telethon for our high school’s scholarship fund, which raises money for need-based scholarships (raising over $100k for each telethon, resulting in the fund giving out over 500 scholarships a year).

    At any rate, always happy to discuss party-related issues with anyone. My email is scmercer@gmail.com.

  • kindler

    …which seems at least a tentative step in the right direction.

    But Miles, you’re right on point.  While we know the Dem pols in VA read us, borrow from us, use us whenever they can, there is this attitude that they are basically supposed to come up with the message and feed it to us, we’re just supposed to deliver it unadulterated.  As Kathy said, this is really old-fashioned, and pretty clueless.

    Any political organization that believes that this sort of one-way communication is even possible anymore, not to mention desirable, is fooling itself.  We need to work, on both sides, on building bridges, and showing some respect, so that the Dem establishment and the netroots/grassroots can work together when we need to.  

    It’ll be a better alternative than welcoming Governor Cuccinelli, believe me.  

  • The Richmonder

    I’m not attending the summit, even though it is being held practically on my front door step.  Why?  Because it is a “for profit” summit.  

    Moran has taken a page out of his for-profit college clients’ playbook and is charging people to “learn” how to volunteer.  They are then following the summit up with a celebration party with yet another admission fee.  It’s just people paying for access.  I have better things to do on a weekend in July than pay for the DPVA’s advice on how to run my blogs.

    No thanks.

    The fact that they didn’t ask a single actual blogger to participate in the program is just an extra little gratuitous insult.

  • Teddy Goodson

    god willin’ and the creek don’t rise. I look forward to meeting Party members from around the Commonwealth, and have not pre-judged the purpose or the agenda—- actually the idea of the Summit is good, and I shall see how well it turns out (although I did tell Brian I did not want to be “lectured” at).

    I was disappointed by the conference call the White House had with DPVA members not long ago, supposedly to discuss problems and ideas for Obama’s re-election campaign in Virginia. It turned out to be a bunch of party functionaries brown-nosing like mad, currying favor with the higher-ups instead of a frank grass-roots discussion of problems and ideas (as I reported here on BlueVirginia.us), so it was IMO the sad waste of an opportunity to get down to the nitty gritty. The Establishment does seem to be afraid of its own grassroots, doesn’t it? Now that I finally have received the full agenda, there seem to be some things missing, like, for example, including those “new Obama voters,” or inter-active discussions about the Democratic vision for Virginia and the country (in contrast, say, to the Republican vision)…