With Democrats Things Get Better

"With Democrats" is a live, always updated presentation. You can check our schedule for upcoming showings here, and check out a recording of our most recent presentation on November 18th, 2020.  . 

In 2016 Donald Trump made a big argument - that this new age of globalization ushered in after the end of the Cold War had weakened the United States, leading to in 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 had been.  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 the President 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 the President was about this great country and its achievements.  It has driven a great deal of research and advocacy.  This caused us to launch a big PowerPoint presentation called Patriotism and Optimism.  And now, as we enter the 2020 general election, we've begun to package this thinking and work into a project we are calling "The Asymmetry Project." The first product of this new project is a webinar we've been trying out over the past few months called "With Democrats Things Get Better."  This presentation 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 our work in The Asymmetry Project 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, disastrous disaster responses, and foreign policy failures.

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 has a new essay, "Build Back Better/Reconstruir Mejor - Joe Biden's Historic Opportunity" running in the current issue of Letras Libres.  It addresses many of the themes we explore in "WIth Democrats" and offers some thoughts on the big challenges ahead if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win this November.  In can be found in both Spanish and English versions. 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."

Recent Recorded Presentations

You can view our most recent  "With Democrats Things Get Better" webinar from June 24th, 2020 here.

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.