NDN Blog

Invite: Fri 1pm ET - Simon Pop-Up Political Briefing/Discussion

Please come join us this Friday at 1pm ET for a live discussion with Simon about the current national political landscape.  Simon will open up with 10-15 minutes of remarks, and then take questions up until 2pm ET.   You can RSVP here.  Invite others – all are welcome!

To prep for the discussion, we send along some of the things we are working and thinking about right now. Look forward to seeing you Friday!

Best – The NDN Team

A Real Economic Debate Has Begun - Democrats Must Win It - In a new post Simon discusses the need for Democrats to win the economic debate with Republicans this year, and reminds us just how strong the economy has been under Biden and Democratic Presidents more broadly.  Some key points:

  • US at lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, lowest poverty/uninsured rates ever
  • GDP growth is 3.4% - 3x what it was under Trump
  • US economic recovery from COVID better than any other G7 nation
  • Almost 2 jobs for every unemployed person, new business starts/wages at elevated levels
  • Deficit and trade deficit lower, energy prices and inflation also continuing to drop
  • Of 47m jobs created since 1989, 45m- 96% - have been created under Dem Presidents
  • Domestic crude oil production will set record this year (no Biden war on energy)

As part of this effort to help arm center-left info warriors with the very best data and arguments, we’ve dropped a new and significantly updated With Democrats Things Get Better presentation.  It is a lively deep dive on Biden, Dems and the economy and well worth watching.   To learn more, and find the video recording visit here.

 Other Related material - January Jobs Report - Economy Remains Strong, 10.7m Biden Jobs,  Some Economic Questions for House Republicans

Simon's Political Briefing: Fighting the Red Wave, Two Elections, The Democratic Party Is Strong - A few weeks ago Simon held a live Zoom based discussion with the NDN community where he offered his early take on the new Congress and the relative strength of the two parties as we enter a new election cycle.  You can watch it and get additional resources here. His top takeaways:

  • Dems head into the 2024 cycle the stronger party, GOP still too MAGA
  • Dems have 3 big priorities now – keep economy growing/prevent GOP sabotage, win the war in Ukraine/defend democracy, fix the immigration system
  • McCarthy has yielded to extremists, MAGA still far too powerful in the GOP

In the briefing Simon also discusses the new front page NYT story, The ‘Red Wave’ Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed A False Election Narrative, which chronicles NDN’s battle against right-wing election narratives in the 2022 election.  Last week Simon’s work in fighting the red wave narrative was cited in a Daily Beast story about Nate Silver and 538, and the LATimes' David Lauter cites Simon's "two elections" analysis:

"All of that is consistent with a theory put forward by Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg — that 2022 played out as two very different elections happening at the same time, one in battleground states where Democrats did very well, the other in the rest of the country."

NDN and Future Majority Host “Get Louder” Event with MeidasTouch, Courier Newsroom, Resolute Square and DSR Network – Last Wednesday NDN and Future Majority hosted a remarkable live gathering of innovative media leaders.  We brought together bringing four organizations we think are doing exemplary work, and need greater attention in DC and across the country.  We were joined by:

You can learn more, get streaming info here.  Simon has also posted a new essay about why this event is important, and why Democrats need to really focus now on getting louder.  This was a really terrific discussion and well worth your time. 

On His Way to Mexico, Biden Kicks Off Important Immigration Debate Here in the US – On his way to meeting with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, President Biden offered an intelligent new plan to address the unprecedented flow of migrants to the our southern border.  It would accept an elevated level of asylum seekers with fiscal sponsors from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, while using temporary authorities to turn back those who don’t fit these new requirements.  An important new debate about immigration and the border has begun, and NDN is hopeful, given the GOP’s obvious concern about these issues, that a bi-partisan legislative package to modernize our immigration system could get to the President’s desk this year.  

Two recent op-eds, Farah Stockman in the NYTimes and David Ignatius in the Washington Post, provide helpful context.  In a Washington Post essay, Greg Sargent cites Simon on how the President should approach this debate:

As Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg points out, the four border states are represented by five Democratic senators and only two Republican ones — and by three Democratic governors. Big gains in the Southwest are one of the party’s biggest political success stories. Shouldn’t the immigration debate reflect this?

“It’s important that these voices become much louder,” Rosenberg told me. “Democrats have to stop allowing the debate to be dominated by Republicans and extremists.”

Understanding the Nature of the Conflict We Are In – 2023 has already provided several vivid reminders that despite the 2022 election being a very good one for Democrats, the threat of MAGA and its allies, here and abroad, remains a very real one.  Creating a far better understanding of the nature of this new conflict America and pro-democracy forces find themselves in, and forging a long-term plan to ensure democracy prevails here and abroad has become one of the center-left’s most important responsibilities now. 

Our defense of democracy in WWII and the Cold War was one of the Democratic Party’s most important achievements.  It appears history is calling on us once again.  In a new Spanish language essay in Mexico's El Universal, Univision anchor Leon Krauze quotes Simon extensively about the dangers of the GOP's descent into illiberalism. 

 

Video: "With Democrats Things Get Better" (1/26/23)

The new House Republican leadership has made it clear that we are going to be having a big economic and fiscal debate this year.  To help the center-left family prepare for that debate (and win it!) we will be updating and showing our influential With Democrats Things Get Better presentation throughout the year.  With Dems takes a deep dive into decades of data and finds when Democrats have been in power, things have repeatedly gotten better.  We've seen growth, lots of jobs created, lower deficits, progress.  With Republicans we've seen something very different.  The last 3 Republican Presidents have brought recession, spiraling deficits, decline. 

As we often say this story - repeated Dem economic success, repeated R economic failure - remains the most important, least understood story in American politics today.  It is a story that needs to be told in 2023, a story the center-left needs to be very very loud about.  

You can watch the latest With Dems presentation from January 26th, 2023 here.

To learn more about the big arguments in With Dems start with our recently published analysis The Economy Remains Strong, 10.7 Biden Jobs, a related thread, and an essay, The Case for Optimism, Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism, which was the basis of the earliest version of this presentation.  We have also frequently written over the past few years about the need for the center-left to get far more intentional about winning the economic argument with MAGA and the Republicans.  Given our repeated strong performance we shouldn't be losing the economic argument to these guys. 

We strongly recommend reviewing David Leonhardt’s NYT essay "Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?" It makes very similar arguments and has lots of terrific and useful charts.  Maria Cardona cites our research in her CNN column, as does David Rothkopf in this USA Today essay.   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!

The deck has been revamped to include a new, longer section on the strong economic recovery under President Biden.  Some of the key stats from that section, and a graph:

  • GDP growth 3x Trump, 5x as many Biden jobs as last 3 GOP Presidents combined
  • best COVID recovery in G7
  • lowest unemployment rate in 50 yrs
  • lowest poverty/uninsured rates ever
  • very elevated wage gains/new business starts
  • 2 job openings per unemployed person, a record
  • real earnings up in 2022, trade deficit/deficit down
  • historic investments in our future prosperity (infrastructure, CHIPs, climate, health care)
  • domestic oil production on track to set records in 2023

Finally, our understanding of the American economy and the role of inflation was heavily influenced over the past year by the writings of our long time collaborator, Rob Shapiro. Rob wrote in January that employment was booming at historic levels, in May that inflation was having little effect on people’s incomes, in July that pundits’ talk about recession was flat-out wrong, in August that Americans were clearly better economically off under Biden, and in October that Democrats should tout their economic record.  Like the red wave, we think too many commentators in 2022 bought into the "inflation is killing the Democrats" narrative far too easily.

You can find even more background here.  Thanks for your interest, and we hope to catch you at one of our upcoming presentations!

The Return of Our Saliency Index, 2023 Edition

The Return of Our Saliency Index, 2023 Edition

As part of our election analysis last cycle we spent time looking at and discussing the concept of salience in public opinion research.  I began producing something called the “Saliency Index,” which uses Navigator Research data on the “most important issue” question and broke it out by party (see here for more on the methodology).  Here a new Saliency Index, below, using Navigator data from their latest poll completed on January 9th, with comparisons to ones run in 2021 and 2022. 

We are going to reboot this project this year because I have become convinced that the way the “most important issue” question was used (badly) last cycle was part of why so many analysts got the election so wrong.  Given the power of right wing media today, I don’t know that we can really be talking about a single national political discourse any more.  There’s the conversation happening inside the right wing bubble, and then there is everything else.  And I think it is far more instructive for political analysts to acknowledge this reality, and recognize that the candidates of the two parties are operating in entirely different information universes. 

We also like the was Navigator asks the question for they allow people to choose their top 4 issues.  It gives far more information than the way it is often asked which is to name your single top issue.  Not sure anyone really looks at the world that way.  There is never only one thing we focus on in life.  It is about managing our competing interests and responsibilities, not choosing one among them all.  We just think this is a far better way to ask the question. 

Looking at the data above, note that vast differences in the Dem and GOP electorates on issues like immigration, climate, guns, even inflation.  For my friends in the Democratic Party, understanding these differences matters, for sometimes I think we get dragged into engaging on issues of great salience/importance to GOP voters but which are of marginal salience to ours because of the power of the right wing noise machine and simple math – if you only ask the question for all voters, issues of great salience to Rs will rise to the top even if they are of marginal salience to those voters available to us. 

In my own journey through political data and analysis over the past year I've come to believe, strongly, that those doing analysis need to work harder to push beyond facile data and intrepretations which can far more simplistic and distorting than descriptive.  The problems with the "most important issue" question is similar in my mind to what are very simplistic reads on the 2022 elections with a national data set when it was clear, very clear, that there were two elections in 2022 - a bluer one in the battlegrounds, a redder one outside.  Failure to capture that level of detail will make most analysis of 2022 just off, for a decline in Dem performance from either 2018 or 2020 overall fails to capture the gains Dems made in AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH, PA, or that we picked up Senate seats, Govs races and state legislative districts.  Any attempt to paint 2022 as an election where Dems fell back against previous benchmarks is "red wavey," even sophistry. 

Memo: We Need To Get Louder

Next Wednesday, January 18th, NDN is co-hosting an event with Future Majority with 4 really exciting new media organizations – MeidasTouch, Courier Newsroom, Resolute Square and DSR Network.  I wanted to do this event to help jumpstart a conversation in the pro-democracy, center-left family on the urgent need for us to “get louder” to more effectively counter the very capable right wing noise machine here in the US.

As an old War Room guy and former television news producer and writer, I’ve been working on ways for the center-left to be more effective and better communicators for a long time.  But it was my work in this last election cycle that really brought home to me how important it is we all get a lot louder in the next few years.  So much of the past cycle was dominated by right wing memes, often shouted one word indictments – Inflation! Red Wave! Recession! Afghanistan! Socialist! Fentanyl! CRT! Woke!.. it goes on and on, relentlessly, defining the terms of our national discourse, forcing the center-left to begin every debate in a Fox dug hole.  In my more than 30 years in the game I’ve never experienced a national discourse that so favored the right, without merit.  It’s a big problem for the center-left and democracy more broadly.

During my own journey these last few months I came across a whole new set of institutions who are working on what I call the loudness problem.  Some of them are organic grassroots organizations which have sprung up in recent years, organized over Zoom, many affiliated with Swing Left or Indivisible.  But the groups we are bringing together on the 18th are media organizations, with large ambitions to reach many people, and help bring our voices, sensibilities, arguments to millions of more people, every day.  All of this work – small self-organized grassroots groups, and these larger media orgs – are part of a much bigger wave of innovation happening on our side than many understand.  Proud patriots are stepping up across the country, building new capacities of various sizes and ambitions, to help ensure MAGA does not prevail, that our democracy is there for future generations as it was for us.  Some of those patriots ran for office these past few cycles; others raised money, knocked on doors, wrote postcards to swing voters; others are building these new, exciting media organizations – MeidasTouch, Courier Newsroom, Resolute Square, DSR Network. 

So this event will be the first of what I hope is a series of events this cycle exploring ways we can get louder.  I hope you will join us next week, and think of ways you can do your part to spread the good Democratic word, be yourself an information warrior for our democracy.  That idea – all of us becoming info warriors, doing our part in making us louder every day and overwhelming the right wing noise machine – is something we will be discussing much more in the days to come. 

More on Our Need To Get Loud

Video: "Getting Louder" w/MeidasTouch, Courier, Resolute Square, DSR Network

Video: Staying On Offense, Being Loud - A Conversation with Tara McGowan

Memo: The Democratic Party Is Strong, Rs Remain All MAGA - NDN's Post-Election Take

Some Thoughts on Democrats and "Loudness"

Memo: Dems Need To Focus On Winning The Economic Argument

Re-imagining the Parties In An Age of Hacking, Disinformation

Video: "Getting Louder" w/MeidasTouch, Courier, Resolute Square, DSR Network

On January 18th NDN and Future Majority hosted an inspiring discussion with the leaders of 4 increasingly important pro-democracy, center-left media organizations:

You can watch the event here.

It is perhaps more important than ever before that those fighting to preserve democracy here and around the world find ways to counter the enormous propaganda machines of the global right.  That’s why pulled together these four inspiring digital entrepreneurs to talk about their projects, their vision and to offer their insights about the vital work ahead.  See this related NDN memo which goes in depth about the need for the center-left and pro-democracy forces to "get louder."

These four new projects all build on the pioneering work of organizations like Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Crooked Media and the Bulwark, and more traditional outlets like the New Republic, The Nation and Washington Monthly. We are excited to see so much compelling innovation happening in this space, and look forward to bringing this exciting work to you. 

Simon Rosenberg of NDN moderated the discussion, and Mark Riddle of Future Majority orvided closing remarks. 

NYT Features Simon in Big "Red Wave Washout" Story

On Decemeber 31st, 2022 the NYT Times published a front-page, above-the-fold story, The 'Red Wave' Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed A False Election Narrative, which prominently featured Simon and his heralded 2022 election analysis.  

Some excerpts:

"Summertime polls indicated surprising Democratic strength. “Red Wave? Hard to see one now,” Simon Rosenberg, a former adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, headlined a June 21 post on the blog of his liberal advocacy group, the New Democrat Network.

Later, when a cascade of Republican-skewing polls pointed to a major reversal, Mr. Rosenberg said in an interview, “it was as if somebody turned a switch on.”"

For shits and giggles, here's Real Clear Politics on Election Day:

January Jobs Report - Economy Remains Strong, 10.7m Biden Jobs

Friday, January 6th 2023  - The January BLS jobs report is out and it's another very encouraging report - 223,000 net new jobs. Despite the many headwinds the US economy remains remarkably strong and dynamic as we transition now from a COVID recovery to a Biden expansion.  

With this new data the NDN monthly jobs tracker clocks in at:

33.8m jobs - 16 years of Clinton, Obama

10.7m jobs - 22 months of Biden

1.9m jobs - 16 years of Bush, Bush and Trump

Biden's 10.7m jobs is 5 times as many jobs as were created in the 16 years of the last 3 Republican Presidencies, combined.  It is also millions more than were created in the entirety of any of their three individual Presidencies.  Many millions more. Since 1989 and the end of the Cold War, the US has seen 47 million new jobs created.  Remarkably 45 million of those 47 million were created under Democratic Presidents, 96%. 

We put some of this and other data into a new thread too.

What this data tells us is that since this new age of globalization began in 1989, a modern and forward looking Democratic Party has repeatedly seen strong economic growth on its watch.  Republican Presidents, on the other hand, have overseen three consecutive recessions - the last two, severe. The contrast in performance here is very stark, it is not a stretch to state that the GOP’s economic track record over the past 30 years has been among the worst in the history of the United States.  

GDP growth tells a similar story:

And look at the jobs created per month over these Presidencies - Rs at just 10k per month over 16 years.  Biden is running at more than 50 times that so far.  Yes more than 50x. 

The bottom line is that Democratic policies have repeatedly been able to make globalization work for the American people in this new and challenging age.  GOP policies have repeatedly failed to deliver, as a national party Republicans have repeatedly failed to do their part.  For those looking for reasons why America has not made more progress in this era, reactionary Republican policies appear to be a very good place to start.   

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. 

It is why Democrats must fight so hard to prevent Republicans from once again cheating their way into power, and establishing a sustained period of minority rule.  It is not just a betrayal of the great American experiment, but it will guarantee, as the data here strongly argues, a period of extended decline as much needed progress on the big challenges we face will be further delayed. 

This argument – about the success Democrats have achieved 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.  You can find our newly updated recording of With Dems, recorded on Dec 6th, 2022, here on Simon's YouTube channel. 

If you liked this analysis, you will love With Dems.

Video: Pop-Up Political Briefing with Simon (1/6/23)

There is was so much going on this week that we decided to do a pop-up political briefing on Friday, January 6th.  Simon offered initial remarks and then opened it up for a fulsome discussion. 

His three key takeaways:

- The Democratic Party is strong

- 3 big things to do this year - keep the economy growing, win the war in Ukraine/defend democracy here and abroad, reform the immigration system

- Rs are still too MAGA, we still have a lot of work to do

You can watch here, and feel free to share the discussion with others.

Recent  Related Material

Thread on Dem Generational Wheel Beginning To Turn

NYT - The ‘Red Wave’ Washout: How Skewed Polls Fed a False Election Narrative

Hopeful Start, Still Way Too Much MAGA - Thoughts On The First Day of the 118th Congress

A Dose of Hopium To Start 2023

Memo: The Democratic Party Is Strong, Rs Remain All MAGA - NDN's Post-Election Take

Hopeful Start, Still Way Too Much MAGA - Thoughts On The First Day of the 118th Congress

A Hopeful Start, Still Too Much MAGA — Like many, I start the year hopeful, grateful for the progress we made in 2022. Our economy remains strong, resilient. Inflation is coming down. The 3 big bills Biden passed — infrastructure, CHIPs, climate — will start rolling out in earnest this year, and the wisdom of these far-sighted investments will become clearer to the American people. Our energy transition is accelerating. Putin has stumbled, badly. The global democracy movement had a good year, greater MAGA and global illiberalism did not. Democrats head into 2023 having had a much better election than expected. House Republicans are reminding us, already, how fundamentally unserious MAGA remains, and what a tragedy it is that we will have to endure two years of their performative silliness.

While I don’t know how much legislating will get done this year Democrats do have a lot to do. We will need to make sure the economy continues to grow, and prevent Republicans from dismantling the ACA, the 3 big new bills and other programs essential to our collective success. We need to keep supporting Ukraine, and hopefully force Putin to withdraw. We need to defend democracy and our freedoms here at home, and abroad. We need to give time and space — and lots of support — to the new Democratic leadership team in the House to find their footing, begin to put their stamp on a new era. We should work to find common ground on the border and immigration, and try to advance legislation which addresses the new challenges we face. Crypto needs a smart regulatory framework, and we should shoot to pass something by the summer. Will there be more? Let’s hope so, but just getting these things done over the next two years will make this a consequential Congress, and America will be better off.

Americans did not choose chaos in 2022. It was a status quo election, a get back to our lives and normalcy election, a put your head down and keep working election. The new MAGA-infused House GOP leadership feels very out of step with this sentiment. Already wild unpopular, it will be interesting to see how House Rs respond in the spring if their poll numbers are terrible, and Trump is even in more precipitous decline. Could calmer, more serious voices assert themselves at this point?

Let us hope.

NYT Features NDN Analysis in Front Page Look At The Red Wave Which Never Came — NDN gets a lot of air time in a NY Times article that looks at the GOP effort to flood the zone with R heavy polls which helped create the false impression a red wave had come in the 2022 election. NDN remains very proud of “close, competitive election not a wave” analysis, and our very aggressive challenging of the red wave narrative. To make it easier to access, we’ve put our most important work from 2022 into a single page our site. It includes this post-election memo which discusses what we think the Democrats stronger than expected showing means for the 2024 cycle. We also share a new essay, A Dose of Hopium To Start 2023, which talks about the need for the center-left and pro-democracy forces to get much more intentional about putting positive sentiment into our daily discourse to counter the unrelenting pessimism and selling America short coming from MAGA and the right.

Welcome back everyone. It’s going to be another action packed year in our nation’s capital. Good luck, and we look forward to working with all of you to make it a good one.

- Simon

 

A Dose of Hopium To Start 2023

Happy New Year All! In this last few months I've become associated with Hopium, a sentiment I warmly embrace.  But it is not new for me or NDN.  I start the year with a dose of wide-eyed optimism, an essay which became the basis of our With Democrats Things Get Better presentation.  I've become convinced that one of our greatest tasks in the center-left and pro-democracy movements is to learn how to more effectively counter greater MAGA's pessimism with by instilling far more positive sentiment about America, our progress, democracy, each other, into our discourse.  So much of their strategy revolves around making us feel bad about ourselves and this great country we live in.  As I write below:

"To defeat Trumpism we must be optimists, patriots, pragmatists now. To defeat the man, we must defeat his fallacious arguments about America and what we have become. While he talks down America, we must talk it up. We should be proud stewards of a great nation, but steely-eyed and resolute about tackling the real challenges that remain. In many ways, even in these nasty early days of Trump, I have never been more proud of my country, more in touch with what it means to be an American. For it remains the greatest country on Earth, the inspiration for so many — and it will reclaim that role in the days after Trump if we can together not just defeat the man, but defeat the dark pessimism his brand of politics has unleashed into America and the rest of the world."

Happy New Year, and to making 2023 our best year yet - Simon

The Case for Optimism: Rejecting Trump’s Poisonous Pessimism (click through for full text, with enhanced graphics)

The Case for Optimism: Rejecting Trump’s Poisonous Pessimism

So, imagine if you lived in America at a time when:

· Incomes of everyday people are at an all-time high, have been rising for at least four years now and saw their largest annual increase in recorded US history just a year ago.

· The unemployment rate is 4.3%, about at what economists consider “full employment.” This rate is historically low — over the past 70 years (821 months), the rate has only been lower in 130 of those months or just 16% of this 70 year stretch. A reminder that the unemployment rate never dipped below 5.3% during the entire Reagan Presidency.

· More people have health insurance and access to quality care than any time in American history. A recently implemented health care law has materially improved the lives of tens of millions Americans in a very short period of time.

· The US stock market is at an all-time high, and 33% percent higher than any sustained high in US history and between 5 and 10 times higher than where it has been most of last 50 years. So really high.

· The high school graduation rate is the highest ever recorded.

· Violent crime rates are half of what they were a generation ago, and cities across the US are blossoming, seeing growth, investment and people once again living “downtown.”

· Teenage pregnancy rates are plummeting, and now are at all-time low.

· There has not been a foreign fighter terror attack on US soil in 16 years, few American troops are dying overseas and the US faces no true existential threat from a foreign power.

· Due to smart policies and years of investment, the flow of undocumented immigrants into the US has dramatically slowed, seeing no net increase for a decade now.

· The US is taking control of its energy future, seeing a sharp decrease in foreign oil imports and sharp, even historic, increases in the production of renewable energy.

Would that America sound like a good America to you? I think so. And of course this list describes the America of today, early June, 2017. America is not without its problems, of course. Despite our economic success, we are still leaving too many behind. Growing levels of inequality are corrosive to the social fabric and bad for the economy too. We have too much public and private debt. Tribalism, racial strife and social coherence remain daunting challenges. Mass incarceration too. The opioid epidemic is tragic, and needs far more attention and action. Too few people vote in America, and our civic life needs renewal on many fronts…..

For a 70 year old alive today, the unemployment rate has been higher than 4.3% for 59 of her 70 years. Line is current level of unemployment.

But it is the premise of this essay that while America has very real challenges, somehow the positive side of the nation’s balance sheet — and there is a lot there — has been recklessly ignored in our national discourse. It is my contention that contrary to the claims of our President, America hasn’t lost its greatness, and that by many historical measures there has never been a better time in all of America history to be alive. Certainly better than the Great Depression, or when we held millions of slaves in cruel bondage, or when kids worked and didn’t go to school, or before there was a minimum wage or a social safety net, or when little black kids and little white kids couldn’t drink from the same water fountain, or when hundreds of thousands were dying in Vietnam, or a Cold War could lead to nuclear annihilation at any moment? Or when sky high interest rates prevented us from buying homes, or women couldn’t vote or work or pursue their dreams, or when OPEC decided to punish America, forcing us to wait in lines for hours just to buy gas? Or especially, my Republican friends, when Ronald Reagan was President and the unemployment rate never dipped below 5.3?

Incomes recovering after years of stagnation, decline. Note difference of GOP (red) and Democratic (blue) Presidencies.

Which brings us to Trump. So much of what he is doing flows from the argument that America isn’t managing this new age of globalization well but being defeated by it. It is the rationale behind stripping health care from tens of millions, dismantling common sense environmental regulations, and getting out of the Paris climate deal and TPP; behind his harsh new immigration enforcement and criminal justice policies; behind his dancing with dictators and distancing himself from democracies. And of course, the data above suggests that this argument — the entire rationale for Trump’s Presidency — just isn’t true. Not even close. Things are far better than he says, or perhaps, understands.

Dow Jones Average 1900–2017. Today, far far above historic norms.

Our new President is the first in our history to be under investigation for treason while in office. Whether he has in fact betrayed our nation to a hostile foreign power (and I think he did) will be determined soon. But to me the greater betrayal of this remarkable nation and its hundreds of millions of decent, hardworking people is the President’s denigration of our collective accomplishments over the past generation. Despite the many headwinds of the modern world America has made true, substantial progress. We are a better and more prosperous nation than we were a generation ago. Our companies lead the world in just about every possible sector, and the innovation and creativity in our private sector remains the envy of the world. Our military has no near peer, and remains the greatest fighting force ever assembled. We are taking control of our energy future, and making great strides against climate change. We are working through our unique challenges with race and tribalism, and while Trump is an obvious setback we just saw a man of color lead our nation successfully for the first time in history. Millions of new Americans are starting businesses, building families and making their mark. Our universities are the best in the world, and our public schools are getting better. I could go on and on and on.

But the bottom line is by selling us short Trump betrays both the greatness of our country and the goodness of the American people every day of his Presidency.

And this is the key. To defeat Trumpism we must be optimists, patriots, pragmatists now. To defeat the man, we must defeat his fallacious arguments about America and what we have become. While he talks down America, we must talk it up. We should be proud stewards of a great nation, but steely-eyed and resolute about tackling the real challenges that remain. In many ways, even in these nasty early days of Trump, I have never been more proud of my country, more in touch with what it means to be an American. For it remains the greatest country on Earth, the inspiration for so many — and it will reclaim that role in the days after Trump if we can together not just defeat the man, but defeat the dark pessimism his brand of politics has unleashed into America and the rest of the world.

Can we do it? In the words of another who came before, there is no doubt in my mind that “Yes, we can.”

 

 

 

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