NDN Blog

Protecting Our Elections, Countering Disinformation

Over the past few years NDN has been at the forefront of the discussion about how best the US and other nations can protect their elections, domestic discourse and citizens, working to prevent "Moscow Rules" from becoming the norm here and in democracies throughout the world.  While some progress has been made, we an awful lot of work to do.

In the 2018 election cycle, NDN's Simon Rosenberg built and oversaw the countering disinformation operation at the DCCC - the first ever of its kind at a national party committee

There is a lot of material below, but if you are interested in learning more about our thinking start with national security expert Richard Clarke's interview with Simon on his Future State podcast (episode 20).  It does a good job at covering most of the major issues we are wrestling with these days.  Our programmatic area, Countering Illiberalism's Rise, has related material worth reviewing.

Biden, A New Day

Video: Facebook After The Whistleblower (10/6/21) -  Frances Haugen, the courageous Facebook whistleblower, has changed the conversation about the dangers of Facebook and Instagram.  Zamaan Qureshi, a brilliant Gen Z crusader for better social media joined us for an extended and fascinating conversation about what comes next for FB/IG. 

Video: DNC's Tim Durigan on Countering Disinformation (7/20/21) - NDN is very excited to have hosted our good friend Tim Durigan for a discussion about countering disinformation.  Tim is one of the very best in the business, and we are grateful he joined us.

NDN Talks w/Karen Kornbluh About Repairing Our Broken Information Ecosystem (3/9/21) - Recently we sat down for a discussion with Amb. Karen Kornbluh of the German Marshall Fund about the challenges of our increasingly dangerous and debilitating "information disorder."  It was a lively and informative discussion - hope you will check it out.

The MAGA Era

Congress, States, Cities Must Rise Up, Fight for the USPS – 8/13/20 - NDN is encouraging elected officials from across the country to rise up and help end the President's sabotage of the postal service. 

Taking Trump’s Ongoing Assault On Our Democracy Seriously - 8/10/20 - The President is on a political crime spree - breaking laws, cheating in the election, encouraging Russia to intervene on his behalf - again.   We cannot let him get away with it - again.

Trump Needs To Re-Open The FEC Right Now - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/9/19 - On the same day that the Administration learned about the whistleblower complaint alleging felony level US election law violations by the President in the Ukraine scandal, the independent body overseeing US election law was shut down.  It must re-open. 

Re-imagining the Parties In An Age of Hacking, Disinformation - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 9/7/19 - New digital threats will require US political parties to start seeing themselves as front line actors in our national effort to protect our elections and discourse.  Some thoughts on how the parties can re-imagine themselves to meet these challenges head on. 

GOP Bringing “Moscow Rules” on Disinformation to American Politics - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 7/26/19 - A series of events over the past several months raises questions about whether using Russian style disinformation tactics has become a core part of the GOP’s electoral strategy in 2020.

Simon In Richard Clarke's Future State Podcast On "The Future Of Hacking Democracy" - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/19/19 - Simon talks with Richard Clarke about what Russia did in 2016, new trends and threats we've seen in the past few years, and what steps we should be taking now to prevent foreign governments and domestic actors from manipulating our elections and discourse.

Biden, Democratic State Parties Embrace Call to Forgo Illicit Campaign Tactics - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/18/19 - Vice President Biden and the Chairs of the State Democratic Parties have now advanced the idea of a pledge to forgo illicit campaign tactics.  Is another encouraging sign that American has begun to take the necessary steps to combat foreign manipulation of our democracy.

Three Things We Need To Do Now To Protect Our Elections In 2020 - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 4/10/19 - America’s leaders should prioritize three things to protect our elections in the run-up to 2020: require paper ballots and audits, protect candidates from hacking and disinformation, and enter a pact to forgo the use of illicit campaign tactics.

Protecting the 2020 Dem Primary from Disinformation, Bots and Hacking- Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/29/19-  Democrats must come together now to prevent what happened in 2016 from happening again this time.  NDN is calling for all 2020s to sign a pledge forgoing use of illicit campaign tactics in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

Trump Doesn't Take Russian Electoral Interference Seriously. This Is What Democrats Did To Oppose It In 2018 - Simon Rosenberg and Aaron Trujillo, NBC News, 12/18/18 - The U.S. and its politics are not powerless to stop the kind of foreign hacking and disinformation tactics we saw in 2016. In the 2018 midterms, the DCCC developed a series of tools and strategies for reducing the influence and impact of malicious actors. Far more can now be done to protect our democracy and our discourse — and doing so should be a very high priority for the new Congress in 2019.

Other Materials

ASDC Resolution on Protecting our Elections from Foreign Manipulation - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/19/19 - This is the resolution passed unanimously by the Association of Democratic State Chairs (ASDC) on June 15th in Santa Fe, New Mexico which addresses foreign manipulation of our democracy and elections.  

NDN Hails Progress Made Towards 2020 Pact on Disinfo, Hacking – Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 4/23/19 - This post is a roundup of all the recent developments in the establishment of a new pact or pledge to forgo the use of illicit campaign tactics in the 2020 elections.  It includes links to the pledge which many European political parties and Vice President Biden have signed on to, and recent statements from the DNC, State Parties, and the Gillibrand campaign. 

The Country Needs to Stop Downplaying The Enormity of the Russian Intervention in 2016 - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thead, 1/25/19.  In a widely shared thread Simon goes through what Russia did in 2016 and concludes that the campaign was far bigger and more impactful than conventional wisdom holds, and clearly delivered a very close election to Donald Trump. 

The RNC's Russia Problem - Simon Rosenberg, US News And World Report, 4/14/17 - The Republican National Committee has a particularly important role to play in future efforts to protect America's elections. For as we've learned over the past two years, the RNC was at the center of two of the most important components of the Russian campaign – the penetration of Trump's campaign by the Russian government, and the normalization and use of Russian disinformation.

Media Citations

Our Next Election Is Dangerously Vulnerable, A Top Democrat Warns. Does Trump Care?- Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 6/25/19 - In a piece in which Greg Sargent links to NDN work on cybersecurity, he examines the question of whether Trump will warn Putin at the G20 against launching another attack on our political system. 

Will It Use Hacked Materials Again? Trump Campaign Will Not Say - Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer, The Washington Post, 4/26/19 - Key passage: "Refusal to forgo both hacking and the use of hacking materials is a great start, but clear stances on use of fake social media accounts, fake websites and images, high-volume bots, troll farms, and other illicit tactics in common use today by Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and other authoritarian nations will also be necessary," said Simon Rosenberg, who was senior advisor to the House Democratic campaign arm in 2018 and helped run a program to search for online election interference. 

Simon Discusses How To Protect Our Elections On CNN's Situation Room - Simon Rosenberg, CNN, 4/24/19 - Simon appeared on CNN's Situation Room earlier this week to discuss how the Trump administration is actively hindering efforts to protect our elections in 2020, and what our political leaders must do now to prevent what happened in 2016 from happening again next year.

Trump, GOP Won't Act On Election Interference Warnings - A.B. Stoddard, Real Clear Politics, 2/25/19 - Key passage: “Trump’s denial the Russia attack ever took place,” [Simon Rosenberg] told RealClearPolitics, “has suppressed the normal immune response which would have kicked in to protect ourselves from future attacks.  Bills have been blocked, common-sense steps not taken, some important government capacities have even been unraveled. All of it has left us unprepared for what is coming this election cycle, and it is important that both parties in Congress come together in the days ahead around a few simple, achievable things which can make it less likely foreign governments can once again manipulate our elections for their advantage.”

Top Democrats Want 2020 Candidates To Sign Non-Aggression Pact - Natasha Korecki, Politico, 2/26/19 - Key passage: “If we know the campaigns aren’t doing it, it’s going to be much easier to find it and make it go away. If this becomes widespread, it will become truly impossible to root out what’s coming from foreign powers. There’s something bigger than all of us here, and that’s our democracy. Democrats should make a clear stand, understanding that if we don’t set clear norms and rules soon, we could see a proliferation of this illicit tactics that could do permanent and lasting harm to our democracy and other democracies throughout the world.”

Pelosi Just Challenged Trump's Corruption And Lies. Here's What Should Come Next - Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 2/22/19 - Key passage: Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, a leading advocate for this approach, argues to me that the 2020 Democrats should join in a pledge condemning all tactics of disinformation warfare, such as "fake accounts, trolls, hacking, and the use of hacked materials." He adds that this can be part of a broader project of making "the repair of our democracy central to the conversation they are going to have with the American people."

Simon Discusses Protecting The Democratic Primary From Disinfo And Hacking On MSNBC's Joy Reid - Simon Rosenberg, MSNBC, 2/2/19 - Simon appeared on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show last Saturday to discuss his ideas for how Democrats should be working to protect the 2020 Presidential primary from bots, disinformation and hacking.

Election And Political Analysis

Election and political analysis has been a major program area for NDN over many years now. Here you can our work on the new Biden era, Trump's failed efforts to overthrow the 2020 election, the 2020 general election and Democratic primary and detailed geographic/demographic analysis.

You can also find NDN’s analysis referenced in these recent articles in The New York TimesThe Atlantic, Washington Post (herehere and here), SalonPoliticoUS News and The Daily Beast.  We also share our ur 2018, 2016, and 2014 election analyses. 

Biden, A New Day

Memo: 2022 Dem Election Narrative Begins to Take Shape - 9/16/21 - An early version of a possible Dem election narrative has begun to emerge - Dems tackle the big challenges, GOP too radical and extreme to once again trust with power.

Memo: After Texas Roe decision, Dems must lean into GOP radicalization - 9/2/21 - The Supreme Court's Texas Roe decision is so shocking and crazy that Democrats have no choice now to make the dangerous radicalization of the GOP central to the conversation they are having with the American people. 

Memo: A Fall To Do List for Democrats - COVID, A Growing Economy, Climate, Immigration - 8/30/21 - In a new memo, Simon writes that Democrats have four priorities this fall - defeat COVID/improve health care, creating an economy which works for all, tackle climate change and modernize our an mmigration system. 

Biden at 47% - 8/25/21 - Joe Biden has seen a nine point job in his approval rating over the last month.  Much of it is due to his declining approval on COVID.  Drawing from 2 recent essays, Simon offers some thoughts on what Biden can do now to reclaim his standing and win the fall. 

Memo: A Stronger Response To Delta Is Required Now - 8/21/21 - In a new political memo, Simon reviews recent polling data and finds rising fears over delta, and growing support in the public for aggressive steps to stop its spread.  The President should seize the moment and launch a stepped up campaign to defeat COVID once and for all.

Memo: Some Thoughts on Afghanistan, What Comes Next - 8/17/21 -  While the endgame in Afghanistan has been a significant setback for the President, he should use these next few months to reacquint the American people with his forward looking agenda and make significant progress in enacting it. 

Biden Should Consider "A Fireside Chat" About COVID - 8/4/21 - It may be time for a prime time Presidential address about COVID, a fireside chat, where Joe Biden can update us on the progress made, the challenges ahead and make clear what his plan is to defeat the pandemic here and everywhere. 

Bold Action on Evictions, But Also A Reminder That Governing is Very Hard - 8/4/21 - The President told bold action this week to prevent mass evictions in the midst of a public health crisis, but the program's struggles should be prompt action to make sure all the President's ambitious programs are well designed, aggressively implemented and successful. 

Memo: Some Thoughts on The Path Forward - 6/28/21 - In a new essay, Simon offers some thoughts on the path forward for the center-left as we head into the July 4th holiday.  Three priorities now - defeat COVID, keep creating jobs, defend democracy.  Get infrastructure to the President's desk by August.

Video: NDN Talks w/Norm Ornstein About Defending Democracy, GOP Radicalization (6/22/21) - Come watch a compelling conversation about the threats our democracy faces today with the great Norm Ornstein.

Memo: A Summer To Do List for Democrats - Defeat COVID, Defend Democracy, Keep Creating Jobs -  6/9/21 - Democrats have important work to do this summer - defeat COVID, defend democracy and make sure the American people know the recovery has come about through Joe Biden's smart and effective economic plans. 

Learning To Talk about Democracy, Patriotism and the GOP’s Radicalization - 5/24/21 - It is time for the American center-left to recognize that defeating autocracy, perhaps the most intrinsically America project, begins this time here at home – and failure is not an option.

The GOP Chooses Autocracy Over Democracy - 5/12/21 - The ousting of Liz Cheney marks a dangerous moment in US politics - Republicans have now chosen to make MAGA, including its extremism and its denigration of democracy, it's political path forward. 

Essay: Biden’s Pragmatism, Republican Extremism - 5/3/21 - In the first 100 days we've learned that Joe Biden understands the challenges America faces, and has offered detailed, concrete plans for how to address them.

Republicans, on the other hand, aren't fighting America's problems - they are just fighting Democrats. 

Video: NDN Talks The Hispanic Vote w/Fernand Amandi (3/2/21) - Join us for an indepth look at the all important Hispanic vote with Fernand Amandi, pollster and a pioneer in creating campaigns to speak to Hispanic voters in the United States.  It was a terrific discsusion - hope you can catch it soon. 

Simon In The NYT on Dem Management of Their Senate Majority - 3/1/21 - In a new NYTimes analysis, Simon offers extensive commentary about the how the Democrats might be able to get their agenda through the Senate this cycle.

Video: NDN Talks w/Ari Berman About the War On Voting (2/23/21) - On Feb 23rd NDN hosted noted author Ari Berman for an indepth discussion about one of the most important issues of 2021 - the GOP's savage assault on voting in America.  It was a great conversation - hope you will check it out. 

Analysis: The Republicans Have An Off-Ramp - They Need to Take It - 1/13/21 - The choice for every Republican now is a binary one — drop the language of Trumpism, declare the election legitimate, tell the insurrections to stand down or become an insurrectionist, insurgent yourself.

Analysis: The Southwest Has Become A Democratic Stronghold - 12/9/21 - Democratic gains in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country have been among the most important political developments in US politics over the past two decades.  It is a region transformed, and a new center of power in the 21st century Democratic Party. 

2020 Election

Every Thursday (and some Fridays) in 2020 NDN published its Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. Below is some of our late 2020 work.  Feel free to review previous editions too.  

Analysis: There's A Whole Lotta Voting Going On! - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/15/20 - Enormous numbers of people are voting early this year, in person and via mail.  It is a welcome sign for our struggling democracy; and practically, all this voting is going to make it harder for Trump to manipulate the election outcome. 

Analysis: It Has Been A Very Bad Week of Polling for Trump and the GOP  - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 9/29/20 - Despite desperate tactics, Trump isn't gaining ground against Biden.  If anything the race may be beginning to slip away.   

Analysis: Is McConnell leading the GOP off an electoral and political cliff? - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 9/21/20 - Mitch McConnell's craven rush to replace RBG looks like a huge mistake, and raises further questions about whether McConnell's repeated mistakes this year is leading his conference off an electoral cliff.

Trump Is On An Electoral Crime Spree - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 9/9/20 - The President has launched a breathtakingly broad effort to hold on to power through wide-scale cheating, treachery and illegal use of the US government to aide his campaign.  Far more should be happening to make it stop. 

Demographic/Geographic Analysis

Trump Has a Serious Young Voter Problem (Updated) - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 9/25/20 - As more data comes in it's becoming clearer that Trump has a serious young voter problem.  He's way below his 2016 numbers, and Biden's margin rivals the largest we've ever seen with 18-29 year olds in recent history.

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It? - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/10/20 - The Biden campaign faces a big strategy choice in the coming days - how manystates to play in? How big shoulld the battlefield be? Argument for going big is very compelling right now. 

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. 

Dems Have Already Won Back Voters In The Rust Belt. It's Trump Who Needs To Win Them Back Now - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/5/19 - It is a myth that Trump's anti-immigrant and protectionist policies have made it difficult for Democrats to win in the Rust Belt in 2020.  Trump is trailing badly there now raising questions about Trumpism itself has become a grand failure. 

Notes On The GOP's Erosion In The Southwest - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 2/11/19 - The dramatic erosion of the GOP brand in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country over the past two elections is one of the biggest stories in American politics.  Trump's border extremism has cost the GOP dearly, and it hasn't kept the industrial north from slipping away. 

In All Important Florida, Democrats Lost Ground With Hispanic Voters - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 11/9/18 - In a year when Democrats made gains with Hispanics across the nation, Florida Democrats saw their performance with Hispanics decline.  Work has to be done to figure out why. 

Among "New Coalition" Voters, Democrats Have Best Performance Ever - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 11/9/18. In the 2018 elections Democrats had their best showing ever with 18-29s, 18-44s and Asian-Americans, 2nd best with Hispanics.  Bodes well for 2020 and many elections to come. 

$38 Million For Beto, And Why It Matters - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/30/18 - Democrats have been raising a lot of money this cycle.  This is not just about fear of Trump - it is about the broad adoption of a more authentic people based politics suited for the digital age championed by Dean, Obama, and yes even Trump himself.

More

Europe's Elections: Liberals and Greens Make Gains, Right Loses Ground - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/28/19 - In both Europe and the US, a new politics is emerging in opposition to the extremism of the far right. It emphasizes political pragmatism and the embrace of trade and immigration, while also focusing on the significant threat of climate change.

Democrats Must Demonstrate Greater Leadership In Challenging Trump's Ruinous Trade Policy - Simon Rosenberg, Twitter, 5/8/19 - Democrats should be more aggressive in challenging Trump’s tariffs and trade policies given the failure of those policies to achieve their objectives and growing discontent with them around the country.

Iowa, Trump, and the Politics of Globalization/Tariffs - Chris Taylor, NDN, 10/12/18 - Trump’s trade policies are hurting the Iowa economy. His tariffs are unpopular there, and his party is performing badly in the fall elections. Some thoughts on what this means for the Democratic presidential race starting soon.

Media Citations: You can find NDN in recent stories about the national political landscape in the AP, Hearst Media/San Antonio Express News, NBC News, Washington Monthly and Washington Post (here, here, here).  Our most important recent citations are below. 

Joe Biden Identifies The No. 1 Threat: Trump - Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, 4/25/19 - Key passage: As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, who worked on House races in 2018, told me, Democrats realized that both Democratic and swing voters wanted candidates who offered a "safe port in a storm" at a moment of perceived extreme danger in the form of Trump, which is why Democrats recruited many candidates with records of accomplishment and an aura of solidity and competence. 

The Biggest Field Yet. No Frontrunner. A Divided Base. Welcome To The 2020 Democratic Primary - Molly Ball and Philip Elliott, Time Magazine, Cover Package, 2/21/19 - Key passage: “The Democratic Party is going through a very large transformation,” says party operative Simon Rosenberg, who’s backed the winning candidate in every primary since 1988 but has no favorite this time. “The era of Clinton and Obama is ending and ceding to a new set of dynamics. A new Democratic Party is being forged in front of our eyes.”

This Is Why Republicans And Democrats Aren't Talking To Each Other In Washington - Ron Brownstein, CNN, 1/8/19 - Key passage: "It's fair to say that the House campaign in 2018 executed on a politics that we first saw with Obama in 2007 and 2008: It aligned the House with the way that Obama began to reorient the Democratic Party," said Rosenberg, who consulted with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee through the campaign. "There were many people who were saying that Obama's embrace of this new coalition [that was younger, more diverse, better-educated, and more urbanized] was the cause of Democratic decline in the Senate and the House. It was never true. But what was true was that Democrats had never resigned themselves to having to lean into this new coalition that Obama constructed. Now they did in 2018 -- they leaned into it -- and look what happened."

Events: 2022 Election Briefing, With Dems

Got a few things on the books: 

Friday, Oct 15th, 2pm ET - With Democrats Things Get Better

Friday, Oct 22nd, 2pm ET - NDN's 2022 Election Briefing

Background - In early February NDN launched NDN Talks, a weekly series of video discussions on American politics.  We gather most Tuesdays at 1pm ET.  Our current working schedule is above, and you can get links to watch previous episodes here.  To be notified by email of upcoming events subscribe to our email newsletter, NDN News, or check back here.  We are are adding new events all the time. 

In addition, we will be offering our acclaimed With Democrats Things Get Better presentation one or two Fridays each month this year. You can learn more about this compelling work, sign up for a future presentation and check out a recording of a recent episode here.  We are currently taking RSVPs for our Oct 15th presentation

Reflecting on MAGA's Indifference to Human Suffering

MAGA’s Indifference to Human Suffering – As we all work to dig ourselves out of the MAGA era, there is one piece of it all that we need to really confront, and work through – the extraordinary indifference to human suffering we’ve seen during the Trump years.  It can be found again and again – young kids fleeing violence turned away at the border, hundreds of thousands of unnecessary COVID deaths, the unceasing ravages of gun violence, stripping tens of millions of Americans of health insurance with no backstop, months long delays and party wide opposition to getting COVID related economic relief to struggling American families while repeatedly cutting the taxes of the wealthiest among us, denying people water who are forced to wait for hours just to vote…..what happened here?

The obvious concern, for those who have studied history, is dehumanization/loss of empathy/scapegoating is what leads societies to commit atrocities against even its fellow citizens.  We’ve written extensively about the post-Trump GOP’s need to take on off ramp from the dangers of MAGA, and perhaps a starting place is for “compassionate conservatism” to find a way back into the national conversation.  The extremism which has overtaken the GOP remains an extraordinary danger, and all of us have to resist the natural tendency to minimize, look away. 

Less Hysteria, More Solutions on The Border, Migration Please

This essay was originally published on Monday, March 22nd and updated on Tuesday morning, March 23rd. The most complete version including important charts and graphs can be found here on Medium.

Less Hysteria, More Solutions on Border, Migrants Please – In a new op-ed I make the case that Brazil’s failure to contain its new COVID variant has become a threat to the entire region, one which the US should respond to by standing up a comprehensive campaign to defeat COVID throughout the Americas.

Standing up such a regional defeat COVID/build back better effort will also help the US create a clearer predicate for launching a long term strategy to bring peace, stability and prosperity to our Southern neighbors in Central America and perhaps Mexico too – a long overdue priority which will, among many other benefits, help stem current and future flows to the border. The rising rates of Mexicans apprehended at the border this year suggests that the weakening of the US and regional economies due to COVID has started creating migratory pressures in countries beyond the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) - something which could get far worse if the kind of COVID outbreak we are seeing in Brazil spreads across the region.  Part of our strategy to stop the current rising flow to the border should be to stand up a broad based regional campaign to defeat COVID and help the countries of the Americas stand their economies back up.

As for what's happening at the border today, let's look at some of the new data available to us now.  First, the current flow is within recent and historic norms.  This thread of various Pew Research reports shows that if we see 1m-1.2m border apprehensions this year we will be very much in line with the annual flows the US saw from the mid-1980s to the late 2000s, a time when we had far fewer border patrol.  It is also in line with 2019, the last year of data before COVID dramatically slowed the flows in 2020.  As Pew begins its most recent analysis: "The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, the tenth consecutive month of increased apprehensions and a return to levels last seen in mid-2019." This Pew report finds that after years of reduced flow, things really picked up in 2019, and that what we are seeing now is a continuation of trends in place prior to Biden becoming President.  A new analysis in the Washington Post today comes to similar conclusions.  The huge flows we saw in 2019 came of course at a time when the President Trump was in the White House and Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate. 

What is different this time, however, is the increase in Mexicans arriving at the border, as we discussed earlier, and the new surge of unaccompanied minors, something that both the Obama and Trump Administrations had to deal with during their Presidencies.  What has changed now, and you could see the immigration "market" responding to it, is that Biden, unlike Trump, is not sending underage migrants home; and is, instead, as the law and our humanity requires, allowing them to apply for asylum here in the US.  As this new Washington Post analysis shows the numbers of unaccompanied minors has increased rapidly, and this month will be 17,000, up from 5,000 in January.  While this is a big increase, an extra 12,000-15,000 children arriving into the US is not going to bring the country to its knees.  Almost everyone else is being expelled.  How sustainable this number is over time, and whether it is, as some have argued, the result of a short-term pent up COVID deferred desire to migrate we just don't know yet.  And it has to be noted that the overwhelming majority of people coming to the border now are single adults - not families or kids - a trend which also began under Trump, and another sign that COVID related economic pressures may be restarting more traditional regional migratory patterns - young men looking for a better life. 

This new Post article does a good job explaining all the steps the Administration is currently taking to deal with the flow of kids and to deter the dangerous treck to the border for all migrants. For as the Biden Administration keeps repeating, the border is closed, and the Administration has really stepped its effort to prevent people, particularly kids and families, from making the dangerous trek.

Finally, we want to go on record wholeheartedly agreeing with this analysis from the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent – the Trump Administration’s border policies were an indefensible legal, moral, policy, geopolitical and humanitarian catastrophe.  Not only did they purposefully send children and families to their deaths, but they also didn’t stop the flow of migrants to the border; under Trump we saw the highest rates of flow to the border that we’ve seen in the past 15 years, and rates of flow to the border rose every month in the last nine months of his Presidency.  Trump failed to solve this problem, and left an extraordinary mess for the Biden Administration to deal with – as they did in so many other areas.

The mess Trump left Biden of course is compounded by the repeated blocking by the extremists in the GOP of broadly popular, bi-partisan efforts to modernize the immigration system in 2006, 2007 and 2013.  If any of these "comprehensive immigration reform" bills had passed the US would be in far better shape today to manage periodic increases in flow like we've seen in the last few years, and in ways consistent with American values.  Like so many other challenges facing the country - climate, infrastructure, universal health care, gun safety - decades of Republican policy extremism has prevented the country from adopting common sense solutions on migration and the border which would have made the lives of Americans materially better. 

It is clear now that Joe Biden is intending to try to systemically address many of these long delayed national priorities, some years overdue, including immigration and border issues, in the coming days. And while the Biden team was perhaps a bit slow to respond to the increase in unaccompanied minors, the White House, State, DHS and HHS are moving now, as the Post article above details.  Given the enormity of the COVID and economic crisis Biden is facing (add SolarWinds, domestic radicalization, etc), and what should be rightly seen as Republican sabotage in not having a real transition and slow walking early Biden nominees, it is perhaps understandable that something like this could happen in the early days of a new Administration (HHS Secretary Becerra, who oversees the housing of the unaccompanied minors, wasn't confirmed until late last week).  And let's be clear - an extra 15,000-20,000 migrant kids is not a national crisis, and efforts to make it into one, coming from a party with such an abhorrent record on migration issues, is a lot for many of us to take. 

If Republicans are truly worried about the increasing flow at the border, there are a few things they could do right away:

- Support additional funding for temporary housing of unaccompanied minors in the US

- Work with Senator Schumer to fast track all Biden nominees at DHS and HHS who will be working on these tough issues

- Help the Administration stand up and implement a COVID plan for the Americas as a first step to a more comprehensive approach to the region, particularly Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries

- Endorse various efforts to modernize the immigration system, as Senate Republicans did in both 2006 and 2013. 

Team Biden is stepping up to address a tough issue left behind from the previous Administration.  It is one Republicans appear to care about a lot.  Democrats should ask GOPers to join them in coming up with a comprehensive response to the challenge like the one outlined above, rather than wasting everyone's time with photo ops at Trump's wasteful wall.

Analysis:Time For A COVID Plan For The Americas

This essay written by Simon Rosenberg was originally published in Medium. 

Time For A COVID Plan for the Americas

The worsening COVID crisis in Brazil has made it imperative that the US launch an aggressive plan to defeat COVID in the Americas. It is reasonable to assume that the far more deadly and infectious Brazilian variant is going to start spreading throughout the region, and the economic and societal damage it may cause is simply not in the interest of the United States at any level.

The US should begin mobilizing to help the nations of the Americas, totaling about 630 million people, for all hands on deck assault against the virus (vaccine, testing/tracing, therapeutics, masking etc). We will need to start committing resources from the Defense Department, State, USAID and other parts of the government to provide direct on the ground support; and the US should consider purchasing enough vaccine to ensure that each nation has enough to vaccinate their entire population in the coming months. We have already purchased hundreds of millions of doses beyond what is needed here in the US — that vaccine should be committed to the Americas first, and not to other regions of the world.

The Biden Administration has already starting planning for such an effort in Asia, working through “the Quad” — the US, Japan, India and Australia. Here, closer to home, we may have to launch something that might be considered an extension of our current domestic mobilization that has created large vaccination centers and other backstops to the state and local health authorities. Today the US announced it was making some of its stockpile of the AstraZeneca vaccine, not yet approved here in the US, available to Mexico and Canada. It is a great first step, but given the gravity of what’s happening in Brazil right now, much more will have to be done.

Doing everything we can to prevent the more virulent Brazilian variant from ravaging the Americas and potentially coming here prior to the US achieving herd immunity is something clearly and pragmatically in the national interest of the United States. But on a deeper level, this kind of American-led regional effort would be hugely beneficial to the understanding in the Americas of what the United States is and can be after a deeply anti-Hispanic America First Presidency. It will also help lay the political predicate for some kind of Marshall Plan for Central America, something which will be needed as a way of preventing the kind of flows to our border we’ve seen episodically since the great Mexican wave of migration slowed more than a decade ago.

As I wrote in an essay in the Mexican-based journal Letras Libres, COVID presents America and the Biden Administration with an extraordinary opportunity to remind the world of the greatness of America while reinvigorating the great liberal project Roosevelt and Truman launched after World War II. If America can successfully lead a global effort to defeat COVID and “build back better” it could become a defining moment for contemporary American liberalism, helping teach an entire new global generation of what modern democracies can accomplish when working together with the people of the world.

The Biden Administration’s rejoining of the WHO and its support of the global vaccine effort COVAX was an important first step in towards standing up such a American-led global strategy to defeat COVID; the establishing of the Quad to do help Asia defeat COVID was a terrific second step; the vaccines to Mexico and Canada a smart third step; standing up a plan for the Americas should be the fourth.

Video: Rep. Suzan DelBene Talks Privacy, American Rescue Plan (3/30/21)

On Tue, March 30th at 1pm ET NDN hosted Rep. Suzan DelBene (bio) for a discussion of her important new bill, the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act.  The bill would create a national data privacy standard to protect our most personal information and bring our laws into the 21st Century. 

Rep. DelBene hails from Washington State, is Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and is the current Chair of the House New Democrat Coalition. 

You can watch the conversation here, and if you stay for the Question and Answer period, you can hear about how the American Rescue Plan is playing back in Rep. DelBene's district. 

NDN believes that adopting a national privacy consumer privacy standard is one of several steps Congress must take to restore the promise of the Internet and our digital life, and strongly supports this bill.  Simon offered this following tatement on the introduction of the bill: "Together, we have a lot of work to do in the coming years to restore the promise of the Internet. One of the areas of greatest need is in creating a single working privacy standard for the United States. In her bill, the approach Representative DelBene takes to protecting Americans’ privacy is smart, measured, and will undoubtedly be highly influential in shaping the approach Congress takes in the days ahead. It is a very welcome addition to the vital debate underway about our digital future."

Here's a bit more on the bill itself, and there is more below too.

DelBene On Privacy - Currently there is no federal data privacy law, resulting in states pursuing their own consumer privacy policies. However, in our digital world, a patchwork of different state laws will lead to confusion for people and businesses. A national standard is necessary to establish a uniform set of rights for consumers and create one set of rules for businesses to operate in.

Key elements of the Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act include:

  • Plain English: Requires companies to provide their privacy policies in "plain English." 
  • Opt-in: Allows users to “opt-in” before companies can use their most sensitive private information in ways they might not expect. 
  • Disclosure: Increases transparency by requiring companies to disclose if and with whom their personal information will be shared and the purpose of sharing the information. 
  • Preemption: Creates a unified national standard and avoids a patchwork of different privacy standards by preempting conflicting state laws.
  • Enforcement: Gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) strong rulemaking authority to keep up with evolving digital trends and the ability to fine bad actors on the first offense. Empowers state attorneys general to also pursue violations if the FTC chooses not to act.
  • Audits: Establishes strong “privacy hygiene” by requiring companies to submit privacy audits every 2 years from a neutral third party. 

Simon offered this following tatement on the introduction of the bill: "Together, we have a lot of work to do in the coming years to restore the promise of the Internet. One of the areas of greatest need is in creating a single working privacy standard for the United States. In her bill, the approach Representative DelBene takes to protecting Americans’ privacy is smart, measured, and will undoubtedly be highly influential in shaping the approach Congress takes in the days ahead. It is a very welcome addition to the vital debate underway about our digital future."

Video: NDN Talks The American Rescue Plan w/Dr. Rob Shapiro (3/16/21)

On Tuesday, March 16th our NDN Talks series hosted our good friend Dr. Rob Shapiro for a discussion of thhe economic and societal impacts of the newly signed into law American Rescue Plan.  You can watch a recording of the conversation here.

This episode of NDN Talks will be beneficial to anyone wanting to learn more about what this landmark legislation intends to do, and the impact it will have on the US economy over the next several years. For a bit more of Rob's thinking on the current economic moment, check out his recent essay in the Washington Monthly, The Facts About Biden’s Economic Agenda and the GOP’s Cynical Response

Rob Shapiro's Bio

Robert J. Shapiro, the founder and chairman of Sonecon, brings broad and deep knowledge and experience in economics and politics based on many years of providing analysis and advice to U.S. presidents, senators, representatives and governors, members of the Clinton, Bush and Obama cabinets and other senior officials of those administrations, executives at Fortune 100 companies, and many prominent nonprofit organizations.  His analyses and views are respected around the world, and he has developed policies that affect the terms of healthcare, education, investment, taxation, regulation, trade, and government spending in the United States and elsewhere.

Beyond Dr. Shapiro’s leadership at Sonecon and role as advisor to presidents and public and private sector executives, he is also currently a Senior Fellow of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, a director of Overstock, and a member of the advisory boards of Gilead Sciences, Cote Capital, and Civil Rights Defenders, an international human rights NGO.

Before founding Sonecon, Dr. Shapiro was the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs (1997–2001), where he directed economic policy for the Commerce Department and oversaw the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. Before that, he was co-founder and Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and Legislative Director and Economic Counsel for Senator Daniel P. Moynihan.

Dr. Shapiro holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a A.B. from the University of Chicago.  He has been a Fellow of Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Fujitsu Research Institute, as well as the McDonough School of Business.  For many years he was the Director of NDN's Globalization Initative. He is widely published in scholarly and popular journals, and the author or co-author of three books.

In addition to providing counsel to senior cabinet and White House officials under three U.S. presidents, Dr. Shapiro also advised British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.  He conducted studies and provided economic counsel to senior executives at companies such as Amgen, AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Gilead Sciences, Google, Nasdaq, and Verizon, among others.  On a pro bono basis, he has advised the International Monetary Fund and conducted studies for the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, the McDonough School of Business, and the Progressive Policy Institute.

In the political realm, Dr. Shapiro was the principal economic advisor to Bill Clinton in his 1991-1992 presidential campaign and senior economic adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016.  He also advised the campaigns of Joseph Biden Jr., Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Albert Gore, Jr.

Vaccines and The Great Liberal Project

A New Foreign Policy Era Begins - The first major foreign trip of the Biden era is underway as Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin head to Japan and Korea with Austin also heading to India too. This trip comes on the heels of a Friday virtual meeting of “The Quad,” a new informal working group of the US, India, Japan and Australia which has come together among other reasons to successfully bring the COVID vaccine to the people of Asia in the coming years.  

In a Washington Post oped laying out the goals of their trip, Blinken and Austin write: “As the president has said, the world is at an inflection point. A fundamental debate is underway about the future — and whether democracy or autocracy offers the best path forward. It’s up to us and other democracies to come together and show the world that we can deliver — for our people and for each other.”

We are seeing the early days of what will be a new foreign policy era in Washington, one for now at least NDN will be calling “post globalization.”  It will be defined by the need to revitalize the great American led post WWII liberal project, and to ensure that democracies and not autocracies prevail in setting the global rules of the road in the 21stcentury. 

One aspect of this emergent strategy NDN will be following closely is something Simon wrote about in his big picture magazine essay on the opportunities of the Biden era – seeing the defeat of COVID and “building back better” as a global project, one which if America and our allies successfully lead can become a vital step in reinvigorating the great liberal project.  

We’ve scheduled an event on April 6thto do a deeper dive on these issues, as we will be talking with the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Jessica Brandt about the global information war which has broken out over the vaccines of the West, Russia and China.  It is a fascinating and important battle on a very new geopolitical playing field – hope you will join us on the 6th, and look for more from us in this space in the days ahead.  

Video: NDN Talks w/Karen Kornbluh About Repairing Our Broken Information Ecosystem (3/9/21)

March 9th - One of the great governing challenges facing the new Biden-Harris Administration is to begin repairing our badly broken information ecosystem here in the United States.  This is an area NDN has spent a great deal of time on in recent years, and we were pleased to bring you one of the leading experts on this topic earlier today, Ambassador Karen Kornbluh (bio below). 

You can watch our discussion here, and be sure to stay for the Q and A - it was a really informative part of the conversation. 

As prep for the recording, please check out Karen's Washington Post Op-Ed, "Three steps to help treat America’s debilitating information disorder;" her new report on deceptive content as covered in Axios; and her recent appearance on CBS News talking about disinformation and the January 6th attack on the Congress. 

If you haven't please do sign up to receive notices about our upcoming events, and be sure to check out our growing video library of in-depth discussions in the NDN Talks series. Recent guests have included Congressmen Scott Peters and Ruben Gallego, pollster Fernand Amandi, author and advocate Ari Berman, professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat and former prosecutor and MSNBC commentator Glenn Kirschner.  Most Fridays you can also find our live, always updated signature presentation, With Democrats Things Get Better too.

Karen's Bio

Ambassador Kornbluh has shaped public policy since the early days of the commercial Internet as a public servant and diplomat in the U.S. and internationally. The New York Times called her a passionate and effective advocate for economic equality. 

Today, she continues that work in two key roles: At the German Marshall Fund of the United States, leading its Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative to ensure technology supports democracies around the globe; and as chair of the Open Technology Fund, a government-funded nonprofit advancing global Internet freedom.

She was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris during the Obama Administration. There she spearheaded the first global Internet Policymaking Principles, gained OECD agreement to provide open access to its data, and launched the OECD Gender Initiative.

She served in the Clinton administration as both deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department and director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Federal Communications Commission, negotiating early Internet policies. She was policy director for then-Senator Barack Obama, and the author of his 2008 platform.

Kornbluh began her career as an economic forecaster at Townsend-Greenspan and worked in the private sector at various points in her career, including as a senior advisor to McKinsey and executive vice president at the global data firm Nielsen where she launched the Nielsen Foundation.

Kornbluh has held a number of fellowships, including at the Council on Foreign Relations where she was the senior fellow for Digital Policy, Mozilla, the Center for American Progress, and New America. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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