NDN Blog

Invite: Feb 16, 1pm ET - NDN Talks High Crimes with Glenn Kirschner

We are very excited for this episode of NDN Talks - an extended conversation with television commentator and former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner.  Reserve your spot for Tuesday, February 16th at 1pm today. 

While we admired Glenn's commenator on television, what originally drew us to develop a working relationship with Glenn was this terrific legal analysis back in 2018.  In this NBC NewsThink essay, Glenn made a big argument, one which we think is particularly relevant today - that the Department of Justice needs to treat electoral crimes committed by the President as grave crimes, ones which cannot be subject to it's current "no prosecution" policy.  In this essay he wrote:

"If a president can act unlawfully to influence an election, he does not deserve the protections of his ill-gotten office. This incongruity encourages lawlessness in the quest for the presidency and then rewards that lawlessness by inoculating the criminal president against prosecution. Such a construct is dangerous....

We now find ourselves with a president whose crimes may outpace those of Nixon and Clinton. Failing to hold criminal presidents accountable in a court of law arguably emboldens, or at the very least does not dissuade, corrupt individuals from seeking the presidency. At some point, we must learn from our institutional mistakes. Department of Justice officials would be wise to reflect on American history lest we once again succumb to a governmental crisis."

What he is saying here, very clearly, is that if a President cannot be prosecuted for election crimes, then he has ever incentive in the world to cheat with impunity, which is exactly what we saw in both the Ukraine fiasco in 2019 and the months long effort to disrupt and cheat in the 2020 election.  Simon wrote an extended essay about Glenn's argument back in August, in the midst of what we called Trump's original electoral crime spree. 

With the 2nd Trump Impeachment trial starting in a new days we hope help to put Glenn's big argument back into the national debate, as a step we can take to ensure that these dark days don't return to America soon, or perhaps ever.

Glenn's Bio:

Glenn is a former federal prosecutor with 30 years of trial experience. He served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for 24 years, rising to the position of Chief of the Homicide Section. In that capacity, Glenn supervised 30 homicide prosecutors and oversaw all homicide grand jury investigations and prosecutions in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the DC U.S. Attorney’s Office, Glenn served more than six years on active duty as an Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) prosecutor, trying court-martial cases and handling criminal appeals, including espionage and death penalty cases. Glenn currently works as an NBC News/MSNBC on-air legal analyst and teaches criminal justice at George Washington University. He has a YouTube channel and Podcast, “Justice Matters with Glenn Kirschner.”

Glenn tried hundreds of cases in his 30 years as a prosecutor, including more than 50 murder trials, multiple lengthy RICO trials and precedent-setting cases.  His cases have been made into major motion pictures (murder conviction of a sophisticated con man who ran in elite DC circles, subject of upcoming film “Georgetown”, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Christoph Waltz and Annette Bening) and TV documentaries (defendant Andre Burno convicted of the ambush shooting of an on-duty police officer, subject of the Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary, “Thug Life in DC”). Glenn has lectured at Federal Bar Association seminars, judicial conferences and professional association events.  He has presented at the National Advocacy Center on the topic of homicide prosecutions and taught advanced criminal law at George Washington University School of Law as an adjunct faculty member. He traveled as a Department of Justice representative to address Ukrainian prosecutors and detectives regarding the U.S. Criminal justice system.   

As an Army JAG, Glenn served as prosecutor at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where he handled dozens of court-martial cases and served as legal advisor to Army commanders on criminal justice matters. He then served as an Army appellate attorney at the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency in Falls Church, Virginia, where he handled death penalty and espionage cases, among others.

Glenn attended Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and was First-Team All American football player in 1983.  In 1987, he graduated with honors from New England School of Law in Boston, where he was named a Trustee’s Scholar. Glenn has received numerous awards, including: the Harold J. Sullivan Award for Fairness, Ethics and Trial Excellence; the John F. Evans Award for Outstanding Advocacy; the Metropolitan Police Department’s Chief of Police Medal of Honor; the United States Attorney’s Office STAR Award; U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal; Washington & Lee University Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee; and induction in September 2018 into the American College of Trial Lawyers.   

June 29th - NDN Talks Economic Nostalgia w/Adam Posen

A few weeks ago NDN came across one of the more fascinating and provocative essays we'd read in a while, "The Price of Nostalgia: America's Self-Defeating Economic Retreat" by Adam S. Posen of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. There is so much in here to discuss that we've invited Adam to come talk to us about the article on Tuesday, June 29th at 1pm ET.  We hope you will join us for what will certainly be a lively and thoughtful conversation about the best path forward for the US economy in a global age. You can register for the event here.

The Peterson Institute sums up the article in this way: Posen "decries the US withdrawal from the global economy and policymakers’ fixation on protecting manufacturing jobs. Rather than focusing on protecting “good jobs” in factories—which benefits a small group of predominantly white male workers—Posen argues policymakers should focus on creating “good work” by protecting “individuals and families, not jobs and places.” "

We found ourselves agreeing with much of what Adam writes here, and are excited to bring this important thinker and his terrific work to you later this month.  Another way to dive into Adam's big argument is to watch his recent interview with Martin Sandbu of the Financial Times.

Adam Posen's Bio

Adam S. Posen has been president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics since January 2013. Over his career, he has contributed to research and public policy regarding monetary and fiscal policies in the G-20, the challenges of European integration since the adoption of the euro, China-US economic relations, and developing new approaches to financial recovery and stability. He was one of the first economists to seriously address the political foundations of central bank independence and to analyze Japan's Great Recession as a failure of macroeconomic policy.  While at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during 1994–97, he coauthored Inflation Targeting: Lessons from the International Experience with Ben Bernanke, Thomas Laubach, and Frederic Mishkin.

During Dr. Posen's presidency, the Peterson Institute has won global recognition as the leading independent think tank in international economics, including repeated top rankings from the Prospect Think Tank Awards and the Global Go To Think Tank Index.  Under his leadership, PIIE has expanded to include 42 world-renowned resident and nonresident fellows and increased its endowment by 50 percent.  Since 2013, PIIE has developed high-level recognition and research partnerships in the People's Republic of China, while deepening longstanding ties with policymakers in other East Asian, European, and North American capitals.  The Institute also has broken new ground in providing accessible economic analysis to the general public.

Posen has been widely cited and published commentary in leading news and policy publications, including the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Handelsblatt, Die Welt, Harvard Business Review, and The International Economy.  He appears frequently on Bloomberg television and radio, among other media programming.

Video: NDN Talks w/Norm Ornstein About Defending Democracy, GOP Radicalization (6/22/21)

Few have been writing and talking more about the decline of the GOP and the increasing threat it has become to our democracy than Norm Ornstein.  Among the most influential scholars of the Congress and America's democracy more broadly, Norm joinied us for an important conversation about the threats our democracy faces today as the Senate debate HR 1/S 1, the legislation designed by Democrats to defend our democracy this year.

You can watch our conversation with Norrm here and catch some of his commentary on these matters here, here and here.  Here is a link to the Brookings essay Morley Winograd discussed during during the Question and Answer session; and you learn more and register for the NDN presentation we discussed, With Democrats Things Get Better, here

For more from us about defending our democracy feel free to watch our recent interviews with Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Ari Berman and Glenn Kirschner; and read Simon's recent essay on what Democrats need to be focusing on this summer. 

Norm Ornstein's Bio

Norman Ornstein is an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic and has been an election eve analyst for CBS News and BBC News. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Campaign Legal Center. His family foundation, the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation, www.mornstein.org, sponsors a summer debate institute for public school kids in the Washington area through the Washington Urban Debate League, and created and funded the documentary The Definition of Insanity, that was broadcast on PBS in April 2020 and tells the story of how a remarkable judge in Miami-Dade County, Florida, transformed the way its criminal justice system deals with those with serious mental illness, saving lives and saving money at the same time.

He serves as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission and co-directed the AEI-Brookings Project on alternatives to the Independent Counsel Act. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law, known as McCain-Feingold, which reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy; The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track, with Tom Mann; and The New York Times bestseller, It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, also with Tom Mann (2012, named Book of the Year by Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog, one of the ten best books on politics in 2012 by The New Yorker, and one of the best books of 2012 by The Washington Post. An expanded edition, retitled It’s Even Worse Than It Was, was published in 2016. His latest book, with EJ Dionne and Tom Mann, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017) was immediately on the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists. Ornstein has a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater in 2007. Ornstein was spotlighted as one of 2012’s 100 Top Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.

With Democrats Things Get Better - 6/25, 7/16, 7/30

To help celebrate and promote Joe Biden's two big economic proposals, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, NDN has rebooted its signature presentation, With Democrats Things Get Better, and will be showing it once or twice or a month this summer.  We think the data and arguments in the deck are essential in understanding why the Biden proposals are needed now, and why the nation should be confident they are going to work if enacted.  

With Dems is updated with every showing, so it is always new and fresh. Right now we are taking RSVPs for our June 25th, July 16th and July 30th presentations.  If you can't make that one, feel free to watch a recording of our June 4th presentation which includes a lot of new economic analysis relevant to the current economic debate. 

To learn more about the big arguments in With Dems start with our recently published analysis 34m and 2m, and an essay, The Case for Optimism, Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism.  which was the basis of the earliest version of this presentation, We also strongly recommend reviewing David Leonhardt’s recent NYT essay "Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?" It makes very similar arguments and has lots of terrific and useful charts.  We also just released a new analysis which shows that more jobs have been created in Biden's first 4 months than in the 3 Presidencies of the Bushes and Trump combined. 

Finally, Mike Tomasky’s rave review of With Dems in a recent Daily Beast column is a great read.  Mike writes: “Simon Rosenberg heads NDN, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization. He has spent years advising Democrats, presidents included, on how to talk about economic matters. Not long ago, he put together a little PowerPoint deck. It is fascinating. You need to know about it. The entire country needs to know about it."  We agree of course. 

You can find even more background below.

Thanks for your interest, and we hope to catch you at one of our upcoming presentations!

Background on With Dems

The impetus for With Dems comes from the big argument Donald Trump started making in his 2016 campaign - that this new age of globalization ushered in after the end of the Cold War had weakened the United States, leading to his infamous phrase "American carnage."

At NDN we always found that argument misguided and wrong. When Trump came to office the US had a very low unemployment rate, record high stock market, declining deficits and rapidly growing incomes for American workers. The uninsured rate was the lowest of the modern era, crime rates were half of what they'd been, and the flow of undocumented immigrants to the border was a fraction of what it was in the Bush and Clinton years.  The world was largely at peace, a great deal of the world was modernizing and growing, and a global effort to address climate change was picking up steam.  While things weren't perfect, what President Trump inherited when he came to office were some of the best overall geopolitical, societal and economic conditions America had seen in decades.  It is something Simon discusses at length in this Medium essay.

So over the past few years we've been talking about just how wrong former President Trump was about this great country and its achievements.  It has driven a great deal of our research and advocacy and the creation of an earlier version of With Democrats Things Get Better called Patriotism and Optimism.  In the spring of 2020 we retooled Patriotism and Optimism into our new presentation, With Dems, which is a data filled look at America during this age of globalization, and how each party has navigated its challenges while in the White House. 

Central to this presentation is the notion that the Democratic and Republican parties aren't mirror images of one another, but rather that they have followed separate, organic pathways in a big, diverse country like the US. The result of this differing evolution is that the Democrats have been a remarkably successful governing party since 1989, while the Republicans have presided over three straight recessions, historic foreign policy failures and a deeply dangerous embrace of illiberalism.  

One thing we discuss in With Democrats is how Americans who have grown up in this post-1989 era - those under 45 - understand this divergence, and view the parties very differently as a result. In 2018, voters under 45 voted for Democrats by a margin of 25 points, whereas in the seven elections from 1992 to 2004, voters under 45 (who had grown up in a fundamentally different political era) voted for Democrats by an average margin of just 0.3 points. 

We hope you enjoy this new project and do note that one of our existing programmatic areas, Countering Illiberalism's Rise, has some overlap with the work you will find here.  We are pleased that CNN Commentator Maria Cardona featured our work in her recent column in The Hill, and it got a wonderful rave from Mike Tomasky in a new Daily Beast column, writing  "It is fascinating. You need to know about it. The entire country needs to know about it." 

Simon recently published an essay, "Build Back Better/Reconstruir Mejor - Joe Biden's Historic Opportunity" in the Mexican-based intellectual journal Letras Libres.  It addresses many of the themes we explore in With Dems and offers some thoughts on the big challenges ahead for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. A passage: "A President Biden would have an extraordinary opportunity to do what he calls “build back better” here in America, and around the world.  It would be wise for Biden to view this moment as the beginning of a new era, a generational long project to reset America and the world after a collective trauma.  Perhaps the most analogous moment in our history would be the years after World War II in which new institutions were established around a new vision for humankind."

We hope you enjoy With Dems, and if you do, please invite others to come experience it too. It is free and open to the public – all are welcome. 

Background Readings

Build Back Better/Reconstruir Mejor - Joe Biden's Historic Opportunity - Simon Rosenberg, Letras Libres, 10/1/20 - In a new essay for the influential journal Letras Libres, Simon offer his thoughts about what Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democrats should fight for if they prevail in the election this fall (English and Spanish). 

Crossing the Rubicon - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/29/20 - The GOP's increasing acceptance of illiberalism and actions at odds with our democratic tradition to gain/maintain power has become the most important political story of our time.

To Defeat Illiberalism, Democrats Must Embrace Their Success As A Governing Party - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/14/19 - Over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been the most successful center-left party in the developed world.   It is time it started acting like it, and begin to far more purposefully lead the fight against rising illiberalism here and abroad. 

Americans Under 45 Are Breaking Hard Toward The Democrats - And For Good Reason - Simon Rosenberg and Chris Taylor, NDN, 8/2/19 - Among the most significant political developments of the Trump era is the dramatic shift of under 45 year old voters towards the Democrats. From 2000 to 2016 D margin w/under 45s was 6 points. In 2018 it was 25. 

In New Global Age, Dems Have Produced Prosperity, the GOP Decline - Chris Taylor, Medium, 1/29/19.  Since 1989, Democrats have overseen strong and inclusive economic growth when in the White House, while the Republican Presidents have repeatedly seen economic under-performance and even recession and decline. 

The Case for Optimism: Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism, Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 6/2/17. In an essay that originally was published on Medium, Simon argues that the great rationale of Trump's Presidency  –  that America is in decline – simply isn't true, and must be challenged more forcefully. 

Chin Up, Democrats, Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 1/20/17. In his column, Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics. This one is very relevant to the presentation itself. 

A Center-Left Agenda for the Trump Era - Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 12/9/16.  In the early days after Trump's election, Simon layed out a possible agenda for the Democrats centering on prosperity, security, shoring up the American led liberal order and ambitious efforts to reform our political system. 

Older, Related Work

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

TIME Features NDN Economic Analysis, Chart, Labels It "Most Important Chart in American Politics" Feb 5, 2013 - Michael Scherer of Time reports on the influence Dr. Rob Shapiro's analysis has had on shaping recent thinking about how the American economy is changing.

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

Crafting an American Response to the Rise of the Rest, January 21, 2010, Cross posted on NDN.org and Salon.com.  Simon argues that the second generation Obama narrative must be a strategic response to the most significant transformation taking place in the world today, the rise of new global economic powers, or what Fareed Zakaria has called the “rise of the rest.”

The 50 Year Strategy, November/December 2007, Mother Jones. Simon and Peter Leyden offer a landmark vision for how progressives can win and prosper in the decades to come.

Memo: A Summer To Do List for Democrats - Defeat COVID, Defend Democracy, Keeping Creating Jobs

This essay was first published on Medium

While there is much on the plate of the new majorities, Democrats should consider making it clear they have three priorities for the summer – defeating COVID, defending our democracy and keep creating jobs.  By firmly establishing what we are fighting for and getting done now, Democrats will potentially be able to take on even more in the fall and winter, including tackling climate change, investing in infrastructure, long overdue reforms of our immigration system and other elements of the President’s economic proposals essential to the country’s future.  Let’s take each of the three summer priorities in turn: 

Defeat COVID– While we have made a great deal of progress here at home, COVID will not be defeated here in the US until it is defeated everywhere.   Democrats must continue to lead the effort to end COVID in America, while also launching a massive very American effort to end throughout the world.   

Creating a successful global mobilization against COVID has many benefits for the US beyond protecting our people (and allowing the economy to come back to life) and the obvious humanitarian imperative – it can help reinvigorate the global liberal order; strengthen American alliances throughout the world;  renew American soft power; and prevent societal and economic erosion in the developing world that will both set countries back for decades and can in some cases lead to destabilizing, extremist politics.  

For me, the moment Biden faces now is more akin to 1945-1946 than 1932-1933, or 1964-1965.  The world is suffering a collective trauma, and we must defeat the enemy and then do what Biden is so committed to doing – build back better, here, and throughout the world.  The opportunity for American global leadership here is immense, and should be seized by the heirs of FDR and Truman.   

Defend Democracy– Joe Biden has repeatedly said that we are now in a renewed and very American struggle of democracy versus autocracy throughout the world, and that America must demonstrate that “democracy still works.” And while the President will begin to further define his vision for what this means for American foreign policy in his European trip this week, the urgent front in this new battle is here in America, as a radicalized GOP/MAGA has launched an all-out assault on the world’s oldest and most important democracy, our own. 

Democrats must cobble together our various initiatives – HR 1, Jan 6thCommission, John Lewis Voting Rights Act, stopping the Republican sabotage in the states, redistricting, reforming the filibuster – and turn them into a clear agenda that we start talking to the American people about.  We simply must learn how to talk about what has happened to the GOP, and make sure all Americans understand both how dangerous Republicans have become, and what we are doing to prevent them from doing permanent harm to the country.  This is a hard conversation to have; this is not a fight Democrats thought they would be having now.  But it is a fight we must take on with extraordinary intensity, and we simply cannot lose.  It has to become seen as something as important to us as these other big priorities – defeating COVID, creating jobs, tackling climate, creating more equity in America - It is that important, and perhaps needs to be seen as foundational to all our other priorities.   

Like previous generations of Democrats, who signed up to defend democracy when called, we must now understand that this battle could be a long one, taking many forms over many years here and throughout the world.  But we’ve fought these battles before as a Party, and have prevailed. We must now do it again.  

Keep Creating Jobs – The economy has roared back this year because of Joe Biden’s ambitious and timely American Rescue Plan.  It provided the strategy and funds to defeat COVID, something that simply wasn’t a priority for Republicans; and it made critical investments in our economy and people which have led to very strong job and wage growth this year.  Democrats must make clear to voters that the recovery they are feeling is because of what we did, that not a single Republican supported the plan. 

While Democratic economic proposals have been broadly popular, the job of making sure that people understand the recovery has happened because of what we’ve done is not finished.  A recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that only 46% of Americans give Joe Biden credit for the current economy recovery.  In a recent Navigator Research poll when asked who was better at rebuilding the economy, voters said 45% Biden, 44% the GOP.  These numbers suggest Democrats have work to do to get the credit they deserve for the economic recovery the country clearly understands is underway.  It also suggests that Republicans retain a great deal of credibility on economic issues despite their intransigence and long history of poor economic stewardship when in the White House.    

Democrats should learn from the Obama Presidency – we were never able to get adequate credit for economic policies which created a long-sustained period of economic growth, pulled the country from the Great Recession, raised incomes and wages, and reduced the deficit.  It would be politically reckless right now to move on to other parts of the Biden agenda before this basic link is firmly established in the public’s mind – the recovery that is happening is because of Democrats and the American Rescue Plan. A summer dedicated to telling that story above all other economic stories would be the smart thing to do now. These recent ads from Majority Forward are an excellent example of what the entire party can and should be doing this summer.   

And while we are telling the story of the success of the American Rescue Plan, we can establish that yes creating lots of jobs after GOP mismanagement of the economy is what Democrats have been doing for decades now.  Bill Clinton did it after the Bush recession of 1992.  Barack Obama did it after the second Bush’s Great Recession of 2008-2009.  Joe Biden is doing it now after the Trump recession of 2020.  During this era, the post-Cold War era, Democrats have excelled at creating jobs. Clinton and Obama created 34m jobs. Joe Biden has created 2.2m in just 4 months.  All three of these GOP Presidents created just 1.9m jobs over all three of their Presidencies.  Democrats have an incredible opportunity to help voters understand just how effective Democrats have been when in the White House these past 30 plus years, and just how much Republicans have struggled to do their part to keep the country moving forward – and why electing them again in 2022 would be so risky.   

As a veteran of the Democratic battles after our last two Presidential victories, I can tell you that power can be fleeting.  Despite our repeated electoral success, we’ve only held the White House and the House at the same time – something required to control the agenda in Washington – for 4 of the past 40 years.  Both Clinton and Obama came to Washington with bigger Electoral College/popular vote margins and Congressional majorities than Biden, and both still lost the House. This time, given what has happened to the GOP, losing the House simply isn’t an option in 2022.  And so yes we must be ambitious, and do hard things as a Party, but we must be smart, and first show the American people that we can be trusted with the power they’ve given us.  

If we can convince the American people that we’ve done what we said we would do – defeat COVID, get people back to work – more will become possible for us in the months ahead.  But if go too fast and neglect to provide a clear explanation for what we are trying to achieve, or if we get too far out ahead of the voters, or do things they don’t like, however well intentioned, and lose the House, we will all wake up in November of 2022 without the ability to move any aspect of our agenda, and will have allowed our democracy itself to be put at risk.  Our goal should be four years of controlling the agenda under Biden, not just two – so much more would be possible then, and it would be as many years of controlling the agenda as we’ve had over the past 40.  It would be an extraordinary achievement.    

So, let’s focus on defeating COVID, defending democracy and creating more jobs this summer – these are big things, potentially world altering things, things that we must do first in order for other important things to happen next.  And we can never, not for one moment take our eye of the most important political objective of the 2022 cycle – keeping the radicalized Republicans from retaking the House.  

Analysis: More Jobs Created in Biden's 4 Months Than Bushes/Trump Combined

The graph below captures one of the most significant inconvenient truths in American politics – the GOP’s economic track record over the past 30 years has been among the worst in the history of the United States.  With the strong May jobs report, over 2m jobs have been created in the first four months of the Biden Presidency.  Remarkably this is more than was created over the Presidencies of the last 3 Republican Presidents, combined. 

When it comes to managing the US economy, the two parties are not the same.  Since this new age of globalization began in 1989, a modern and forward looking Democratic Party has repeatedly seen strong economic and job growth during their Presidencies.  Republican Presidents have overseen three consecutive recessions, the last two, were severe.  The numbers in the first graph below tell the story – in 16 years of Clinton and Obama, 34m jobs were created.  In the first four months of Biden it is 2.2m.  Over 16 years of the two Bush Presidencies and Trump, it was 1.9m.  Democratic policies have been able to make globalization work for America; GOP policies have repeatedly failed to deliver for the American people, have repeatedly let us down. 

It is our firm belief here at NDN that the current radicalization of the GOP is intimately linked to its repeated failure to handle the challenges of the post-Cold War era.  The rigid ideological approach of the modern GOP has left it unable to govern in a time of rapid change; and those repeated failures have left many Republicans angry, reactionary and willing to do the unthinkable to stay in or regain power.  The modern GOP has no answers for many of the most important challenges America faces today, and rather than modernizing, adapting, as all institutions must in a time of change, the GOP has decided to fight the future by rigging the system to remain in power while the country and its people drift from their narrow grasp.  If the GOP is successful, it is a clear formula for a sustained period of American decline as it will continue to delay much needed progress of the big challenges we face. 

This argument – about the success Democrats have gained through modernization, and the failures of the GOP for their refusal to do so – is at the very core of our presentation, With Democrats Things Get Better.   We are presenting it today at 2pm ET, and again on June 18th at 2pm ET.  You can learn more about these arguments, and sign up to see With Dems here

Video: NDN Talks The Youth Vote with CIRCLE of Tisch College/Tufts (6/15/21)

Young people (ages 18-29) played a pivotal role in the 2020 election. They drastically increased their turnout from 2016, and their strong preference for Democrats was decisive in the presidential, Senate, and House races. But young voters’ continued participation is not a given, and will require concerted efforts to sustain—and improve—in 2022 and beyond.

On June 15th NDN hosted Kelly Beadle and Alberto Medina from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), part of Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, for a conversation about the youth vote in 2020 and in the future. They shared exclusive data on youth voter turnout nationally and state by state, as well as research-based insights on what works to engage the youth electorate. Thy also dispelled some myths about young voters; discussed the role of social media; and talked about the laws, policies, and practices that support more equitable civic development and electoral participation for all youth.

The discussion was moderated by Tufts alum Simon Rosenberg.  You can find video recording of the event here, and a copy of the deck they produced at the attachment below.  You can find links to CIRCLE's compelling research here

The importance of young voters is also at the very core of our big presentation about American politics, With Things Get Better, which you can catch live most Fridays this summer.  Thank you!

The Presentors

Kelly Beadle - Kelly Beadle joined CIRCLE in 2019 and manages CIRCLE’s voter registration research project. Her role is to lead qualitative and quantitative analysis on voter registration and participation, in addition to program evaluation for the project. Before joining CIRCLE, Kelly worked on program development, running field experiments and fundraising in numerous national and state-based organizations. She began her career and worked for over a decade in Minnesota, which she considers her home.

Alberto Medina - Alberto Medina has worked at CIRCLE/Tisch College since 2013. He collaborates with CIRCLE leadership on strategic communications, provides key editorial support to disseminate research, and maintains CIRCLE’s digital presence. He also oversees a wide range of communications tasks for Tisch College, including preparing remarks and presentations for the Dean. A graduate of Yale University, Alberto previously worked as a freelance writer and editor and at national newspapers in his native Puerto Rico. He is a commentator and advocate on the issue of Puerto Rico’s political status.

Memo: Learning To Talk about Democracy, Patriotism and the GOP’s Radicalization

Learning To Talk about Democracy, Patriotism and the GOP’s Radicalization - As I learned during my stint with the DCCC from 2016 to 2018, Democratic pollsters have felt very strongly that Democrats needed to steer away from conversations about Trump’s manifest illiberalism, and keep focused on “kitchen table” issues like the economy, health care, defeating COVID.  It’s hard to argue with this rationale, as Democrats have, in the last few years, won the Presidency and retaken the House and Senate. 

But with Trump’s illiberalism now becoming the politics Republicans have chosen, even after their significant electoral losses in recent cycles, it is time for Democrats to elevate the threat the GOP poses to our democracy into one of those kitchen table issues.  It is not just the right and necessary the thing to do, but a new paper from Stanford suggests there is significant electoral opportunity here for Democrats too. In this study weak Republicans and independents were able to be pushed away from the GOP brand when exposed to a better understanding of the GOP’s ongoing attacks on our democracy. 

Many believed that the best way to confront the growing radicalization of the GOP was to defeat Trump and knock the GOP from power.  That strategy, however, has proven to be insufficient.  It is my belief that we must now take the illiberalism of MAGA head on, and not just defeat the party and its candidates but the argument itself.  Leaning into the radicalization of the GOP can bring several other benefits for Democrats: 

1)  It creates an opening to explain how radical the rest the GOP agenda has become – from the economy to guns to health care the GOP’s ideas are just as destructive as those about our democracy

2)   It creates an opportunity for Democrats to find a language grounded in patriotism and love of country, understanding that patriotism is a powerful, benevolent and perhaps necessary antidote to nationalism

3)   It is possible that creating more pain around their radicalization may be required to get the GOP to start taking an off ramp from MAGA – which has to be one of our goals now.  

There has to become a party wide effort to find the language and arguments required to make the dangers of the GOP’s current path understandable, salient. This will be particularly true for Democrats in swing states and districts where are just more Republicans and Republican leaners they have to talk. It is time, my fellow members of the great American center-left, to take on this battle, and recognize that defeating autocracy, perhaps the most intrinsically America project, begins this time here at home – and failure is not an option.  

More - Greg Sargent cites this memo in a new Washington Post column. 

House Making Important Progress in Strengthening the USPS for the 2022 Elections

House Making Important Progress in Strengthening the USPS for the 2022 Elections

Reps. Maloney and Comer should be commended for coming together behind a sensible bill to modernize and reform the United States Postal Service.  For Democrats, putting the USPS on a stable footing is an integral part of our election reform agenda, and it is great to see a bi-partisan approach emerge which will get this done in the coming years.   We are optimistic that when adopted this bill -- the Postal Reform Act -- should be able to pass a closely divided Senate and get to work soon in ensuring the USPS is in good shape for the 2022 elections.

We hope that Members in both parties step back from trying to load this bill  up (or another postal bill also to be considered) with things which will make it more difficult to pass.  Two ideas in particular - postal banking and efforts to alter the package pricing system – are incredibly contentious and difficult issues, and regardless of their merits, should be left for another day.  On package pricing, there is a provision in the main bill to mandate further study of the issue.  Passing the main bill, letting it take effect and then returning to the issue once a study is completed seems like a wise and prudent course.  We simply need to get this bill passed as soon as possible for the sake of the 2022 elections.

The GOP Chooses Autocracy Over Democracy

In the struggle between autocracy and democracy, the GOP chooses autocracy

The ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from the House GOP leadership is a significant event.  For it signals that the MAGA extremism Trump brought to the GOP has outlived him and become the dominant ideology of the party itself.  As we wrote last week, this is a tragedy for the country - for what MAGA’s short term agenda only seems to be about is restructuring American politics so Democrats can never win elections again.  Any hope of the GOP taking an off-ramp from MAGA does seem, for now, a bit hopeless.  

But what should worry us even more about the Cheney ouster is how much what MAGA/GOP is doing now aligns with our understanding of what Russia has been working towards for years.  The 2017 IC report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election stated: Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order…. We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process.”

How is what Trump did in 2020 to the election/postal service/census/Jan 6th, and what the GOP is continuing to do now in Arizona/attacks on voting/refusing to renounce Jan 6th/Cheney’s ouster, inconsistent with Russia’s aims here in the US and around the world? In what is becoming the defining ideological battle of the next generation of global politics, autocracy versus democracy, it is as if the party of Reagan has chosen to side with Russia and its goals of weakening the West and democratic forces across the world.  

One of the great fears many of us had about Trump is that his diminution of American democracy would create a permission structure for autocrats throughout the world, left and right, to further erode democratic norms in their own countries.  We are seeing it here in the US; we are seeing it in Europe in Hungary and Poland; as Leon Krauze writes in the Washington Post we are seeing it in Latin America; of course we are seeing it with China and Asia too.  It is why Biden’s commitment to making the strengthening of democracy here at home and abroad is so central to his Presidency – for democracy, the greatest American export, is under threat here at home and abroad in ways not seen in generations.  

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