NDN Blog

Where have all the core Republican voters gone?

The Republican Party has a new political problem on their hands to go with continued bad news coming out of Iraq and a slowing economy. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have published the results of a poll that shows a 14% drop in support for the Republican Party among Catholics and white evangelical protestants.

Christian conservatives seem to be finally realizing that while Republicans campaign on opposition to abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, once in office their focus is on passing regressive, unsustainable tax cuts and misguided attempts to reshape the Middle East:

"...religious conservatives could feel betrayed that some Republican politicians recently voted to back stem cell research, and that a Republican-dominated Congress failed to pass an amendment outlawing same-sex marriage."

Think of this experiment in conservative government as the antithesis of the progressive success in the 1990s. President Clinton campaigned on the very progressive idea of building a 21st century economy that could bring hope and opportunity to all Americans, and then delivered on it. Check out Thomas Frank for more on the bait and switch at the center of Republican electoral strategy.

Additionally, the poll revealed that 61% of Americans believe that there should be "immediate government action" to combat global warming. It should be noted that in the past year leading evangelical Christians have begun speaking out against Bush Administrations global warming policy, or lack thereof.

Are Republicans losing touch with one of their base constituencies and will it hurt them come election time? We'll find out in just over ten weeks. Until then, you can be sure NDN and the New Politics Institute will be tracking these shifting demographics, almost as closely as Karl Rove.

Video in Politics: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Three stories about political video in its various forms.  From the established media format of the political ad, as produced by the DSCC, to the new, potentially viral video of George Allen, to the legally murky status of the 'VNR,' here is how video continues to play an important role in the new politics.  

The DSCC has released a new ad Secure, undercutting Republican rhetoric on homeland security.  Note the alternating examples of debacles abroad: too few troops in Iraq, failure to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, and shortcomings at home: cuts in law enforcement budgets, lax port security, etc.

Republican Senator (and potential 2008 Presidential candidate) George Allen released a much less targeted piece of media yesterday.  At a campaign rally in Southwest VA, Allen singled out S.R. Sidarth, an Indian-American campaign aide to Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, calling Sidarth "macaca" and offering a sarcastic "welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."  Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County, VA and it'll be interesting to see how this "macaca" comment plays in Iowa or in the DSCC's next ad.

The Center for Media and Democracy has released a report on what are called 'video news releases' or VNRs.  VNRs are fake news pieces produced by corporations, and it is illegal to air them without disclosing their source.  The report found 77 examples of local television stations violating this law, triggering an FCC investigation.  The corporations producing these VNRs must be taking cues from the Bush administration, which produced its own fake news stories, until the GAO declared them "illegal covert propaganda."  

Ahmadinejad's Blog: More "Death to the Infidels," Less "CT-Sen"

Looking for a blog that talks about what you can do to help wipe Israel off the map?  Need more information on Iran's "civilian nuclear energy program"?  Or maybe you are just looking for some nostalgic tales of the glory days of the Islamic Revolution.  Well look no further, because Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched his own blog.

The first post clocked in at over 2000 words, but President Ahmadinejad said that "With hope in God, I intend to wholeheartedly complete my talk in future with allotted 15 minutes."  I left a comment saying that in the next post he should just give us his quick take on the days top stories published in the government-controlled press.  At least it wouldn't be another politician complaining about how his message is filtered by the media.  And if President Ahmadinejad can't bring more brevity to www.ahmadinejad.ir I think it would be appropriate for the UN Security Council to impose some kind of sanctions.  After all, it is up to the civilized world to make sure a powerful weapon like a blog is not abused by a madman. 

Rudy Giulianni vs. Larry King: A Battle of the Out-of-Touch Titans

In between the ads for Ensure and life insurance, Rudy Giuliani said something interesting last night on Larry King Live.  He said that "we are at war with Islamic fascists, this is not a police action."  I think Mr. Giuliani - a terrorism expert according to Mr. King - truly wants to believe that we can defeat terrorists through our involvement in a very twentieth century war, with thousands of American boots on the ground in Iraq.  Mr. Giuliani must have missed the report that the British foiled this murderous plan to blow-up passenger aircraft over the mid-Atlantic by conducting a month-long investigation, involving Scotland Yard, MI5 and security services in Pakistan.  It even looks like the breakthrough in the investigation came from a single undercover agent

With the Taliban back on the rise in Afghanistan, the President continuing to substitute "stay the course" for a real plan in Iraq, Arabic linguists vital to fighting terrorism being discharged from the army for their sexuality and Republican "experts" like Rudy Giuliani completely missing the point in this latest episode, it seems suspiciously as if the Republicans are working overtime to give cast-iron credibility to the Democrats' claim that we need a "New Direction" in how we fight terrorism.

It's a Purple Monkey, I Think it Speaks For Itself

The title to this post is actually the introduction to a purple monkey puppet that is a recurring guest on lonelygirl15's youtube.com hosted video blog.  I began watching her fascinating, enthralling and slightly voyeuristic collection of viral video after reading the New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan's blog post about this YouTube sensation.

Lonelygirl15 is actually a 16 year-old girl named Bree.  Bree speaks directly into a webcam, sharing quixotic but inspired observations about her life, conservative parents, interest in science, ever more complicated relationship with her friend/producer Daniel or anything else that is on her mind. 

In just two months, Bree and her purple monkey's seventeen videos have been viewed almost four million times.  Heffernan says that MTV should offer Bree and Daniel a spot on their broadband video channel MTV Overdrive.  I can't believe MTV hasn't already.  This technology is exploding and has applications for what we do - watch Julie Bergman at the NPI New Political Tools of 2006 event to learn more.  So, do progressives need to learn to master the 700 pound purple monkey that is viral video?  I think that "speaks for itself." 

Brother, Can You Spare a Multinational Force?

When discussing the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the administration likes to talk about finding a resolution that does not lead to a return of the "status quo ante."  Fantastic use of Latin aside, I'm not sure that Secretary Rice's two weeks of diplomatic efforts have overcome the main obstacle to reaching a lasting cease fire.  Put simply, Israel will not leave Southern Lebanon until an international force has secured the region, preventing Hezbollah from moving back in. 

In unsurprising news, there are not a lot countries volunteering to send troops to stand between Hezbollah and Israel.  An anonymous senior European official in the must-read New York Times article on the topic was quoted saying “All the politicians are saying, ‘Great, great’ to the idea of a force, but no one is saying whose soldiers will be on the ground...Everyone will volunteer to be in charge of the logistics in Cyprus.” 

People like Republican Senator Chuck Hagel are seeing the bottleneck of volunteers for logistical duty in Cyprus and the complete lack of combat forces available and are calling for an immediate cease fire, even without an international force. 

Lest we forget why there are no American or British troops available to police South Lebanon, there is this article from the LA Times.  The deteriorating situation in Baghdad is a reminder that after almost three and a half years it is unclear when the situation in Iraq is going to improve. 

House Republicans and Energy Policy: When Will the Politics End?

I woke up this morning in an inexplicably good mood.  Thankfully, all I had to do to remove the bounce from my step and restore my equilibrium was open up a newspaper and read about the House Republican energy bill.  So put on your seatbelt and get ready to leave the reality-based community behind for a liquefied-coal powered ride into the world of desperate Republican politicking.

In contrast to the bi-partisan energy bill moving through the Senate, House Republicans are scurrying to pass a divisive energy bill in the 3 weeks before Congress goes into recess.  The plan may sound familiar, or it may just sound like a broken record, because once again Republicans are trying to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  This time they seem to realize that ripping up ANWR is not going to end our over-dependence on foreign oil.  They must have read the Energy Information Agency report which reveals that at peak production, twenty years from when drilling begins, oil from ANWR would only meet 1%-2% of domestic energy needs.   

In an impressive case of mission creep, House Republicans have given up emphasizing the minimal and far-off economic impact of drilling in ANWR, and are instead arguing that royalties collected from oil companies could be used to finance an “Energy Independence Trust Fund.”  You may remember the idea of an Energy Trust Fund from 2004, when it was at the center of John Kerry’s energy proposal.  House Republicans should try to arrange a photo-op with the junior Senator from Massachusetts to celebrate their slightly belated support for his energy plan.  Perhaps not though, as their trust fund would support greenhouse gas-producing coal and ethanol technology, whereas Kerry’s called for strengthening fuel efficiency, retooling factories and providing incentives to buy hybrid vehicles.  Of course, we could have that trust fund today if Congress would collect reasonable royalties from companies already drilling on federal land and rescind the $2.8 billion dollars in tax cuts and incentives that oil executives admit they don't need.  Just a thought. 


The New Politics Institute is Coming to Capitol Hill 7/20 to Help Progressives Master the New Tools and New Media of Politics

Want to learn how people involved in politics can better allocate their media dollar? Use blogs? Optimize search? Connect with young people? Make a mobile phone a tool for your message? Understand the exurbs? Reach Hispanics? Use influentials to spread the word about your work?

Then you will want to check out www.newpolitics.net, the website of the New Politics Institute, a think tank helping progressives master today’s transformation of politics due to the rapid changes in technology, media and the demographic makeup of America.

Over the last year, NPI’s network of top professionals in these fields have developed a compelling body of practical, useful reports that will help you get your message out more effectively today. We’ve also put on a series of events in Washington DC, many of which can be watched on digital video that is archived on the website. Taken together, they form a very 21st century toolbox for progressives.

The next event on “The Powerful New Political Tools of 2006” will be Thursday, July 20th, at the Phoenix Park Hotel. The two-hour lunch program will feature short presentations about best practices from top innovators and experts in half a dozen critical areas:

Paid Search Advertising: With Jim Lecinski, Midwest Regional Director for Google, who will explain why Google sold $6 billion in paid search ads last year and how political actors can start to use this outlet too.

Viral Video on the Internet: With Julie Bergman Sender, a longtime motion picture executive and producer who produced the well-known viral video in the 2004 cycle starring Will Ferrell playing George W. Bush with horses on a ranch.

Blogs and Next Wave Internet Innovations: With Jerome Armstrong, coauthor of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, and the internet strategist for Governor Mark Warner.

Mobile Phone Media: With Tim Chambers, who recently served as Sony Corp of America’s Senior Vice President of Advanced Media Platforms and just started his own company, Media 50 Group.

Getting More from TV Ads: With Theo Yedinsky, NPI’s Senior Advisor, who will speak about shifting more ad spend from broadcast television to targeted cable buys.

Speaking in Spanish: With Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN who has been leading a national Spanish language media campaign using soccer and the World Cup.

Feel free to spread the word of this free lunch event to colleagues in the DC area. And if you won't be in DC next week, look for a video of the event off our website a few days later. In any event, you can always check out the tools in our tool box on our website.

There are a wide array of new tools and new media being used by early adopters in the public and private sectors that are totally ready for prime time in politics not someday, not next year, but right now. The more progressives who understand how to use them, the better. Please spread the word.

The Minimum Wage and Ballot Initiatives

Progressives are united on the need to raise the minimum wage. It's been almost a decade since the last hike and it's unrealistic to think that anyone could survive or raise a family on $5.15/hr. Yet, House Republicans are refusing to allow a vote on increasing the minimum wage to $7.25/hr over two years. They must have exhausted the energy they devote to legislating in their attempt to pass another pay raise for members of congress - whose pay has jumped by $31,600 since the last increase in the minimum wage.

In Arizona and Montana, the AFL-CIO and its members are taking matters into their own hands. Activists are collecting signatures in those states to put initiatives on the ballot for a $2.10/hr increase in the minimum wage. Reasonable people may disagree on the proper role of ballot initiatives in our Democracy, but this is an intriguing tactic for two reasons. First, moving towards a living wage is an important policy goal and ballot initiatives offer a way around obstinate Republican leadership in the House. Secondly, anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives drove culturally conservative voters to the polls in 2004; ballot initiatives on the minimum wage may have a similar effect on working families and progressive voters in 2006.

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