The Burgh: A Weekend Battleground for Politics

Seems Pittsburgh is the place to be. Whether its watching championship caliber sports or hosting international meetings, Pittsburgh is on everybody’s hot list. There’s another event coming to town this weekend. Perhaps not as well known in general circles, but certainly another feather in the city’s cap.

Netroots Nation is coming to Pittsburgh this weekend. Once known as the Yearly Kos Convention ( after the influential “Daily Kos” blog written by Markos Moulitsas ), this fourth gathering of progressive/liberal bloggeers will take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This gathering has power. Consider last year in Chicago, the convention managed to get then-Democratic candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to sit down in one place and talk about the issues.

This year, they are bringing in more heavyweights from the Democratic side of the ledger. Former President Bill Clinton will do the keynote address on Thursday and Valerie Jarrett, perhaps the most trusted advisor in the Obama cabinet speaks Saturday.

So why is this important … aside from getting some A-List speakers? More and more, our country is becoming a nation of  left and right with very little middle ground. This conference gives us a peak into how  one side of the conversation, using grassroots tactics and the power of the web, is crafted.

As with all political battles, the other side will be represented: Right Online  represents the conservative blogging sphere and will hold their national conference at Station Square. They are a smaller group of than the larger Netroots nation but they are here specifically to offer an alternative to the more liberal Netroots Nation. Among their high-profile speakers is conservative columnist Michelle Malkin and “Joe the Plumber” of campaign fame.

Its just interesting to see Pittsburgh becoming not only the model for the city of new millennium, but also one of the sites for the new course of political discussion. Given what is going on in the health care debate ( and that’s a kind way of describing the kind of shout-fest we are witnessing in these town hall meetings ), this conference comes at an appropriate time in American political discussion.

Plus, anything that gives Pittsburgh a higher profile – in a public light – I am all behind. I’m sure no matter what side of the aisle you are on, if you live in this city you would agree. So get ready for a weekend where the wars of political will be waged not only on-line, but on the street corners of our city.

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