What I Saw At RightOnline - AFP GA's Baker Owens Recaps The Weekend
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the Right Online conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, because of my work launching ThatsJustyPeachy.com. I was honored to represent Georgia, along with Joel, and Jeanne Seaver, one of the founders of the Savannah Tea Party. For people interested in online activism and conservative solutions to local and national issues, this is a can’t miss event.
Americans for Prosperity began Right Online as the conservative answer to the left’s Netroots Nation, formerly called YearlyKos. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for online activists from across the country to network and exchange ideas. It offered a smörgåsbord of opportunities to hear from both conservative celebrities like Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Jonah Goldberg, as well as to hear from grassroots folks from across the country. For example, I met a group who had come from Ohio and we chatted about the impending onslaught of campaign mania they were about to endure with Ohio being an important swing state. I also met two bloggers from Wisconsin who were in the thick of the Scott Walker recall fiasco.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has chapters in 37 states and many of them were represented at the conference. AFP understands that to build long-term support for conservative policies, a strong presence must be established on the grassroots level. Right Online demonstrated that AFPF is well on their way to educating a large portion of the public online. The message of RightOnline was clear, there is still a lot left to do. The other side is not slowing down, so we must keep up the momentum from 2010 and keep educating the public about the dangerous results of a runaway behemoth of big government.
The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, & government to gain ground. — Thomas Jefferson
Whether it is regulation, the overall bureaucracy, the tax code, or whatever issue you care about, the government will always be creeping in and we have to remain vigilant to keep the America we know and love.
There were several breakout sessions during the course of the weekend that I enjoyed. My goal for the weekend was to figure out some strategies for increasing the reach and influence of That’s Just Peachy. Most of the breakout sessions had three or four panelists from around the country who brought a little something different to the table. Michelle Malkin talked about how to increase your presence on Facebook and Twitter. We heard from the Blogger of the Year winner, Jon Fleischman from the Flash Report, a constant thorn in the side of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Apparently, Facebook accidentally hired a conservative, Katie Harbath, and she was there discussing the optimal ways to use Facebook as a tool for activism. There were folks from the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Chamber, the Ayn Rand Institute and many others. I encourage everyone to also check out one of the documentaries that had a booth at the conference, Injustice, a “film about greed and corruption in America’s lawsuit industry”. I strongly believe the trickle-down effect of all these suits is causing serious problems across all levels of society and cannot be underestimated. Please support these guys and the hard work they did on this movie.
Friday featured a number of tributes to long-time Right Online ally Andrew Breitbart from friends and colleagues. Several folks from Breitbart News, Big Hollywood, and Big Government were there, and we were able to toast Breitbart’s great work in far too brief a time. His fearlessness in confronting a culture and media stacked against us was truly something to behold. As southerners and conservatives, even for the politically active among us, I think our nature is to not want to get into the fray and be confrontational. We want to be nice and “bless their little hearts”, you know? Breitbart had no such problem getting into the fray. It is said that while many of the Founding Fathers were daring, brave men, Samuel Adams was the true agitator and instigator of revolutionary fervor. Breitbart was kind of like our Sam Adams. The, forgive the expression, “malaise” that fell upon conservatives after the free-spending days of the Bush administration was shaken off by Breitbart and others as they saw the plans of the 110th Congress led by Nancy Pelosi. Breitbart loved to get right in there with the Occupy protesters and discover who they were and what they were actually fighting for. Shockingly, if you actually figured out what the Occupiers wanted, you’d be horrified. But was that covered in the broader media? No. One of the most powerful moments of the weekend was the presentation/ preview of one of Breitbart’s last works, the movie Occupy Unmasked.
The last thing I’ll mention here is the great speech from Georgia’s own, WGST radio host Rusty Humphries. Rusty is involved in more projects than I realized and is very committed to the idea of breaking out of the old press mold. He’s very supportive of non-traditional media and seeking out the stories that often go by unnoticed. In his speech, he discussed the attempts by the left to shut down talk radio and conservative bloggers. Whether it is intimidating Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers or SWATting, some truly spooky strategies are used to silence those that disagree with the Progressive agenda.