NDN Blog

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.

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.  

It's The Governing, Stupid

March 8 - Joe Biden may be the single most prepared and experienced person to ever be President of the United States, and that experience, and the hard fought wisdom which often comes with it, has been on full display in these early days of his new Administration.  On the issue which matters most, defeating COVID, we’ve already seen truly dramatic improvements – COVID’s spread has dramatically declined, and the vaccine rollout dramatically accelerated.  The weakening of the virus also led to an impressive number of jobs created in February. In the DC area some schools have begun to announce plans to return to full in person instruction in late April. The soon to be signed into law American Rescue Plan will do much to ensure that the progress we’ve made against COVID is maintained in the coming months, and that something like normal life is possible to imagine again. 

It is clear that his many years of experience has taught Biden that to govern well he needs an experienced and capable team, for the issues in front of the United States are beyond the capacity of a single person, or even small, expert team to manage. Despite the enormity of the challenges COVID and economic struggles have brought, Biden is also working on immigration reform and smart border management, infrastructure and climate, reasserting American’s rightful role in the world, a new wave of state sponsored cyber-attacks and past election interference by foreign actors, extreme weather, emergent supply chain issues for American businesses, domestic radicalization, strengthening the ACA……even repairing the Post Office, and the Census, both broken by the previous Administration.  The ambition the President is showing is due in part to the excellence of the team he is building – it is work that must get done, but with his able team, it is work that can get done. 

Successful Obama and Clinton Administrations have left the Democratic Party with very experienced and capable executive branch veterans.  Joe Biden was relentless in recruiting into government at this challenging time the very best of this world, and together they are building a formidable team, one which has begun to harness the awesome power of government when virtuously used for the public good.  After years of Trump’s feckless and shambolic “management” of the US government, this head down, quiet professionalism is a welcome development indeed; it will also put greater and greater distance between the progress the new government makes on the problems we face and the increasingly absurd remnants (Dr. Seuss????) of the once proud Republican Party.  

Biden's Strong Job Approval

Biden Strong Job Approval– Want to dwell on Biden’s strong job approval numbers for a minute.  In today’s 538 tracker Biden starts at 55.6 approve, 38.2 disapprove.  This means in practical terms that 62% of the country does not disapprove of what Biden is doing right now.  9% of the US voted for Trump and is not disapproving of Biden now – this is almost one in five of Trump’s own supporters.  

A strong majority of the country, even a big chunk of Trump supporters, are giving Biden a chance to move on his agenda.  It is why he should seize the moment, and go for it.  It is what 60% plus – an extraordinary numbers – want him to do right now.  

And it has to be noted that as Biden is +18 in his job approval today, Trump was only +2-+3 for a few days of his Presidency; was net negative the rest of his Presidency; and never broke 50% job approval one time, the only President in the history of polling to not get to 50% during their Presidency.  So we are really looking a dramatically different Presidency, one where opposition to Biden is nothing like the opposition to Trump.  A majority of the US is giving Biden a chance.  Trump never had the country behind him, was never popular, or seen as effective.  And this matters as the Republicans try to figure out what to do next.  For Trump was both a disastrous President and historically unpopular – why would they ever want to return to that politics? 

GOP Chooses Radicalism, Violence

Feb 1st, Washington DC - How to describe the Republican Party’s refusal to condemn Marjorie Taylor Green or to accept the 2020 election as legitimate? This isn’t politics as usual, something any of us has seen before. Behind both the Capitol Riots and the words of MTG is an ideology of violence, one which believes that Democratic elected officials should be eliminated/killed to make way for Trump to “Save America.” 

On July 4th, at an official event at the White House, then President Trump  spelled out a new mission for his Presidency and the GOP: “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators.” This was a direct call for violence against his political opponents, a declaration that the President was putting the mighty power of the US government on the job of killing off “the radical left” as our government had used force to eliminate other ideologically threatening movements. 

There simply is no way to interpret this call any other way, and in fact as the NY Times reported this weekend, the Trump administration did begin mobilizing against the “radical left” over the summer.  Republican leaders, including ones many consider moderates, continue to use the “radical left” frame; and over the weekend MTG called her colleague Rep. Cori Bush a “leader of the Black Lives Matter terrorist mob.”  Terrorists, as the President stated above, who needed to be “chased down to the very ends of the earth.”  

Until Republican leaders explicitly renounce these violent calls, and make clear they accept the election in 2020 as legitimate, their party has essentially aligned itself with a violent, armed, and organized domestic insurgency.  It is honestly shocking we have gotten to this place, and that so many Republicans, particularly in the US House remain unrepentant.  But here we are, and this organization is going to continue to demand and expect there to be a clear national effort by the Republicans to de-radicalize, end the Trump-inspired insurgency, and return to the language and practices one would expect from any political party in any democracy, anywhere.  

Biden’s Call for Unity Met With Extremism

This essay was originally published on the website Medium on Jan 25th, 2021. 

These first few days of the Biden era have been a disappointing confirmation of just how radicalized the modern Republican Party has become. Consider:

There has been no party wide embrace of the legitimacy of the election, and thus the legitimacy of Biden’s Presidency — Despite everything that has happened in recent weeks, the Republican Party and its leaders have done almost nothing to distance themselves from the Big Lie about the election outcome being illegitimate. While Senator McConnell has called on Republicans to accept the election results, House Minority Leader McCarthy hasn’t; there is no organized effort for those who told the Big Lie to renounce it; no Republican group or leader who has participated in the insurrection has been disciplined. Senator Paul was spent his time on ABC News yesterday repeating the Big Lie.

How can Joe Biden be expected to work cooperatively with a Party which believes, falsely, that he is an usurper and shouldn’t be there? Our collective expectation as a society now has to be for the Republicans to make it clear that they were wrong about the election; that it was legitimate; and that the power the Democrats hold in Washington was legitimately earned, not stolen.

Mitch McConnell is preventing Democrats from taking over the Senate — In what may be among the extraordinary illiberal acts of these deeply illiberal era, Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow Democrats to seat their new Senators in the various Senate Committees, which leaves Republicans still in charge of the Committees and thus the legislative process. There is no possible justification for this, and is another sign of how far the Republicans have to travel to become a conventional center-right party which respects democratic norms and the rule of law.

No pledge of support to work with Biden on any issue, including defeating COVID — Finally, where is the praise of Biden’s agenda, his speech, the clear excellence of his early transition planning despite COVID, compromised government information systems, the insurrection and degraded security environment? Where is the GOP olive branch on any issue, particularly on dealing with the incredibly reckless mis-management of the pandemic? Why haven’t, for the good of our nation in such a challenging time, Republicans offered a single thing they could work on with Biden? Let the Democrats actually be in charge of the Senate? Do away with the doubts about the legitimacy of the election?

Is it possible for the Republicans to have done less to show their commitment to the general welfare these past few weeks than they’ve done? Hundreds of Members of Congress participated in an effort to overthrow the election results, an effort which resulted in violence and death. They have refused to renounce their support of an active insurgency. They have refused to turn the Senate over to the Democrats, and slowwalked his early Cabinet choices, even in the areas dealing with domestic security. There has been no olive branch, no call for bi-partisanship, no issue identified as any area of potential cooperation.

Instead we still see and hear leading Republicans on national television this weekend using the “radical” language which helped bring violence to the Capitol a few weeks ago — the election wasn’t legitimate, we need to investigate what went wrong, Biden is embracing a dangerous “Radical Left” agenda and actually not doing anything to reach out to Republicans…….

Really? Fixing our broken COVID strategy, creating an economic package which will help struggling families, moving an immigration bill similar to one which has passed a Republican-led Senate twice in the past 14 years, rejoining a global climate agreement which has literally every other country in the world in it isn’t reaching out and is far left? This whole charade has both become both so predictable and so tiresome.

Early polling suggests Biden is uniting the country, even if Washington Republicans have been slow to embrace the new President. Some results from a new ABC Ipsos poll:

Mask wearing on federal property 81–17

Rejoin the WHO — 70–28

Biden Handling of COVID — 69–29

Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords — 65–34

Reauthorize DACA — 65–33

Trump has left the GOP a radicalized, illiberal party, and unfortunately, that radicalization has been very much on display these past few weeks. For America to have unity, or even just good governance, a major project must be undertaken to deradicalize the GOP, and help it return to a center-right party recognizable to a modern democracy. Acknowledging the legitimacy of the election and allowing Democrats to take over the Senate now would be reasonable first steps on the GOP’s post-Trump journey. Let us hope that’s what we see in the coming days.

A New Day, The Spirit of Cincinnatus Returns

New Day – Hard to overstate the significance of what’s about to happen in the next few days.  More than a transfer of power – the Biden team is coming in ready to hit the ground running as few Administrations in recent American history have.  Biden has a clear world view; has built a remarkable team; is already rolling out cogent, smart plans on the biggest challenges we face.  The change in language, agenda, orientation is going to be dramatic, jarring, needed, and oh so welcome. 

We keep coming back to the concept of experience – Joe Biden and his team just know their way around the place.  We are witnessing a remarkably sure footed operation come in at a time of enormous crisis in America – COVID, the economy, body politic, cyber, climate, America’s standing in the world – and it is hard at this point to not feel a bit lucky that Biden, like Cincinnatus, came out of retirement and suited up one more time for the good of the republic.  

In a recent op-ed Simon offers some thoughts on Joe Biden’s historic opportunity to “build back better” here in the US and around the world.   The piece argues that America’s new President should view the next few years as akin to the years after WWII; and use the need to fashion a successful recovery from a shared global trauma to reaffirm and reinvigorate the liberalism which has been so essential to America and the world’s success in the post WWII era.  

You can catch Simon talking more in depth about these ideas in a new “Unpresidented” podcast, and another one from a few months back with Salon’s Chauncy DeVega.  

Analysis: The Republicans Have An Off-Ramp - They Need to Take It

Republicans Have An Off-Ramp — They Need To Take It

This essay was originally published on the website Medium. 

The attack on Congress last week, and other extremist disruptions which may come in the days ahead, are being driven by the belief that an American election was stolen, and that proud “patriots” need to rise up to defend our democracy from those trying to dishonor it.

The election wasn’t stolen of course, and thus this entire radicalized pro-Trump extremist movement has been built on a lie. To stop the violence, restore order, and allow the next President and Congress — and state governments — to get on with their important business — Republican leaders across the country simply must tell their supporters that the election was legitimate and to stand down, go home, and help bring an end to the ongoing insurrection.

We have to be clear that this if this does not happen, and the Republican Party, leadership including “Stop the Steal” sympathizers Kevin McCarthy and RNC Chair McDaniel, continue to sow doubt about the election, the insurrection we are seeing could turn into a years long domestic insurgency which will also certainly see prominent politicians attacked again and undoubtedly some will die.

The Trump Presidency has left America a domestic radicalization problem that is going to take years to address. But the role of post-Trump Republicans in this de-radicalization effort is going to be vital, essential. A first step will be to declare the election legitimate, and ask Trump’s supporters to stand down and go home. Our disputes in America are decided by debate and elections not bullets and violence.

A second and in my mind equally important step will be for Republicans to stand down from using language which whether they understand it or not is equally false and equally an incitement to violence — the language describing Democrats and Joe Biden as Marxists/Communists/the Radical Left. In the evolution of the current moment, this language came first, over the summer, from the President in a speech he gave at the White House, on July 4th. A few days after this speech I wrote:

“If you haven’t read or watched the President’s speeches on July 3rd and 4th — just do it. The language, the hyperbole, the violence will shock you. You will find phrases like “there is a new far-left fascism,” “this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” “radical assault” “the radical view of American history is a web of lies,” “unleash a wave of violent crime.” The Washington Post reported: “He celebrated Independence Day with a dystopian speech in which he excoriated racial justice protesters as “evil” representatives of a “new far-left fascism” whose ultimate goal is “the end of America.”

The single most poisonous passage came from his July 4th remarks: “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”

Friends, we know the guy is loose with his words, but this is the President of the United States conjuring up some dangerous domestic enemy who needs to be fought the way we fought Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, ISIS and Al Qaeda, with the American military, with death and assassinations. This wasn’t a campaign speech, and the President wasn’t talking about politics or the 2020 elections. It was an official speech by the President, from the White House, on the 4th of July, and it is was a call to arms by the leader of our government to kill and hunt down a dangerous domestic other".

…..The call for domestic violence as we saw on July 6th was first made by the President that day. The frame he established — that Democrats have evolved into something akin to an existential threat to the country and thus must be violently put down like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Communists and Fascists — still lives in the language of Republicans every day. It was the core argument of the election, and it remains the essential frame of the GOP as they head into the new Biden era.

Like declaring the election legitimate and walking away from Trump’s false frame about the election, Republicans must also walk away from the false frame about the radicalization of the modern Democratic Party. They’ve invented an imaginary domestic threat which their supporters have become radicalized against. Democrats are not an extremist party, but a pragmatic one. Our governance while in the White House has made the country far stronger, repeatedly. Our current leaders come from the Democratic establishment, and Joe Biden has long been a leader in standing up for American ideals of liberty and freedom both domestically and abroad. We haven’t uses illiberal or illicit means to gain power — in fact our recent success at the ballot box, winning more votes in 7 of the last 8 Presidential elections — is the best electoral run of any political party in American history. We are historically popular, have governed well and are run by pragmatists, not ideologues.

The ongoing attacks on Democrats as “radical,” “communists” etc is itself the language of extremism, an incitement to violence, false — and like the language around the “stolen election” it must be dropped by Republican leaders in the days ahead. It is a dangerous rhetorical relic of the Trump era which has no place in a healthy democracy; or in a modern, responsible center-right party which we all hope rises from the rubble of Trumpism.

The stark reality we as a country has now is that we have a serious domestic extremist problem, one which scored an historic victory last week. It is going to grow, become more ambitious and aggressive in the coming months. The nation will need to work hard to prevent this armed, radicalized movement to do lasting damage to the country. The Biden Administration will be developing strategies to address the challenge, using all the tools available to them. But whether this movement become something truly significant, and does lasting harm, or fizzles out in the coming months will be a great degree up post-Trump Republicans. If the GOP can de-Trump, de-radicalize itself, and return to a party one would recognize in a Western democracy, it will help bring a rapid demise of the current domestic insurgency we are experiencing. But if the language and tactics of Trump, and the purposeful stoking of extremism, remains central to the Republican Party in the coming months then the kind of violence we are witnessing now could be with us for many years.

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. Republicans have a clear off ramp available to them from this road of radicalization. For the good of the nation let us hope they take it.

Note - I've written extensively over the past few days about the absurd notion that no one saw Jan 6th coming.  That it remains the default position of the US government - when it is so obviously untrue - should worry us all.  More here.

Confronting The Rising Threat of Domestic Extremism

The Biden-Harris Administration is inheriting an extraordinary array of problems left by the many years of misgovernance by the Trump Administration.  We know the list – COVID, a weak economy, a broken immigration system, loss of US standing in the world, a wounded democracy, a worsening climate crisis, compromised government computer systems, a resurgent Russia.  It goes on and on. Few Administrations in our history have had so many difficult challenges left in their lap, all at once. 

As critical as all these things will be there is one additional part of the terrible Trump legacy that will need a great deal of attention in the Biden era, one that will be among this talented Administration’s most difficult challenges – confronting and defeating the rising threat from right wing extremism.   

Among the things which happened in this dark week in Washington is that this movement was able to, with the enthusiastic help of the President and his family, achieve perhaps its most significant victory to date – the successful storming of the US Capitol.  There can be little doubt their success in breaching the Capitol’s defenses, occupying the building and disrupting the Electoral College vote, will supercharge a deeply dangerous movement whose adherents have already just this year plotted to kidnap kill Michigan’s governor, assassinated police, occupied statehouses, conspired to kill American troops stationed overseas, murdered the husband and son of a Federal judge and planned to firebomb police in Las Vegas. 

In a series of new writings (herehere and here) I reflect on the challenges America now faces from what will be a far more grave domestic security threat.  NDN is also calling on Congress to bring AG Jeffrey Rosen and DHS Secretary Chad Wolf in to testify, under oath, about the federal government's lack of preparedness for Wednesday's attack on the Congress. 

We also share a link to one of our main project areas, Countering Illiberalism’s Rise, which has years of our work offering ideas on how to combat the rancid embrace of anti-democratic sentiment and extremist forces we’ve seen not just by the Trump family but by the modern Republican Party.  Finally, we offer an essay I wrote recently which discusses how the Biden Administration can consciously work to strengthen our post war liberal tradition in the coming years – a vital, essential task. 

Rejuvenating post WW II liberalism and combating the rising threat of illiberalism and extremism is going to become NDN’s central focus in the Biden-Harris years. 

From the darkness of this week there can be light.  But only if we work together to make it so.  For as difficult as dislodging Trump and the Republicans has been in recent months, our most important work, together, is coming in the days and months ahead.   

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