Netroots Nation is arguably the most important annual event in the progressive community and a telling barometer of what is on the minds of “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” as Paul Wellstone, the late U.S. Senator from Minnesota, once put it.

This year’s conference, held in-person in Pittsburgh after two years of virtual meetings, featured keynotes and panels addressing standard progressive fare: reproductive justice, labor rights, climate change, universal healthcare, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights, gender and marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and strengthening public education.

But perhaps more now than in the pre-MAGA years, there was an underlying theme of how progressives can effectively respond to the current rightwing assaults on democratic governance and the common good, which have only grown louder and more extreme since 2016. In session after session, panelists and speakers exhorted progressives to counter these assaults by asserting their positive progressive values and by calling attention to the villains leading these assaults and what motivates them.

This theme is especially welcome to public school advocates who’ve long argued that many of the issues progressives care about most have their origins at the schoolhouse door and that those who attack public schools are, in fact, waging a war on democracy.

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