Monday Buzz: Hispanics' Widening Clout, A New Liberal Era, a Greener Grid, More

Simon was quoted in the Houston Chronicle and United Press International on the increasing political power of Hispanics in the United States. From the original article by Richard Dunham, the DC Bureau Chief for the Chronicle:

In addition to 33 positions requiring Senate confirmation, Obama has chosen 26 Hispanics for White House staff jobs— more than any of his predecessors. Civil rights advocates hail the increase in Latino employment in the West Wing and beyond.

“This is a new America,” said Simon Rosenberg, CEO of the Democratic group NDN, which specializes in demographic and technological change. “America is going through one of the most profound demographic transformations in all of its history. The Obama administration is simply reflecting the emerging reality of America in the early 21st century.”

But the record-setting pace of appointments reflects more than simple demography. It also reflects the complexity of a president who proudly calls himself an American “mutt” — the nation’s first biracial president, the son of an immigrant, a person who has experienced racism and benefited from affirmative action.

Simon was also quoted in Politics Daily on the prospects for immigration reform:

At the moment, though, there is no immigration legislation, just a vague Senate timetable. New York's Chuck Schumer, an adroit dealmaker who took over the immigration subcommittee from the ailing Kennedy, has promised to have a bill ready to send to the Senate floor by the fall. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (running for reelection next year in Nevada, a state in which about one-sixth of the voters are Hispanic) said last week that he wants to pass an immigration bill this year "if it is at all possible." But then there is the black hole known as the House of Representatives. Simon Rosenberg, the founder of NDN, a center-left Democratic think tank which supports immigration reform, said, "In the Senate, you have knowledge and sophistication on the issue. In the House – which has never gone through a serious debate on immigration – you have more ignorance and fear."

Simon also appeared extensively in an article by Chuch Raasch in the Statesman Journal called "Has a new liberal era begun?" From the piece:

Some leading Democrats believe demographic and technological trends have created a "new progressivism," in the words of Simon Rosenberg, founder of the left-leaning New Democratic Network.

"Allow us who survived the Bush-DeLay era to have at least a year of happiness," he joked. But in a seminar called "The Dawn of a New Politics" that he has given to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, Rosenberg argues his case based on serious demographic facts:

— Obama won by more than 2-1 among voters under age 27 in 2008. They are part of the "millennial" generation, those between ages 6 and 27. Its 93 million Americans are 9 million more than the baby boomers. Rosenberg argues that voting patterns people establish in their 20s don't dramatically change later in life. But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, says younger voters tend to be more malleable — and that this group is increasingly wary of the debt being piled upon it.

— Obama reopened a gap among Hispanic voters, winning them by roughly 2-1, after Bush had attracted 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

These two groups help constitute "the most profound demographic change in all of our history since the Europeans arrived here in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg also says that like Franklin Roosevelt did with radio beginning in 1933, the left has embraced social networks and other new media more readily than the right. Obama organized volunteers and raised hundreds of millions of dollars on the Internet and is using the Web to push major policy initiatives, like health care, from the grassroots.

He says FDR's "progressive era" lasted for nearly 50 years, giving way to a quarter-century of "conservative ascendancy" that Rosenberg argues ended in 2006.

But whether Obama's "new progressivism" lasts is dependent upon several factors. One is whether median income rises; another is whether Obama gets comprehensive immigration reform passed.

Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor as his first Supreme Court nominee was significant to Hispanics, Rosenberg said, but he cautioned that if Obama doesn't do comprehensive immigration reform, it will be "a tremendous letdown" for this community.

Finally, Michael Moynihan argued for investment in smart grid planning in the Salem News:

"Before you spend billions of dollars on new lines, you have to spend millions of dollars on design work," said Michael Moynihan, green project director of Washington, D.C.-based think tank NDN. "Nobody had been thinking about this much money."

Most scientists and activists are touting that an investment of 2 percent of United States gross domestic product would solve carbon loading to the atmosphere. In the movie "A Sea Change," one expert compared the money needed to achieve green energy to spending an extra 10 cents on a bottle of cola.