Netroots Nation: Long on Good People, Short on Good Ideas

07/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Justin Hamilton Justin Hamilton is the Press Secretary for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

My 2 cents: Good from a "projection of power" standpoint, bad from a generating new ideas, new battle plans & strategies angle.

Don't get me wrong, its hard to ignore the fact the a convention full of people, who, not but a couple of years ago, were mistakenly thought to be a bunch basement shut-ins taking time off from Dungeons and Dragons and ComicCon to share themselves with the world, could summon the most powerful Democratic politicians in America to appear before them. That is an impressive feat in and of itself.

But less we run the risk of becoming the stale, static pillars of insider political power we seek to change, we must keep our eye on the ball.

One of the most fascinating conversations I had was with Zack Exley about his "Revolution in Jesusland" project. And it made me think...

Jesus was an architect of radical social change, not a pundit. And what an architect has that a pundit doesn't is a blueprint. That's what I felt was the missing link in Austin.

The sheer number of topics and panels each day was breathtaking: around 40-50 different subjects were discussed for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour a piece. Just enough time to give people a brush stroke look at a topic, not enough time to get substantive. So you got to hear about what some people are doing, but not how you could do it.

Topics ranged from "War Pundits" to "Emerging Trends in Health Care Online." There was a little something there for everyone, but a lot for no one. It's like old Mark Penn learned the hard way: you can't micro-slice your way to the goal line.

An impressive gathering of such bright, revolutionary thinkers, and political activists should yield more actionable ideas than I believe was the case this year.