NDN Blog

NDN Endorses Clinton's Plan to Make Voting Easier

NDN endorses in the strong possible terms the speech and plan offered by Hillary Clinton yesterday to help renew our democracy and bring initial reforms to our political system.

Complaints about our “dysfunctional” democracy have become as common as laments about traffic or the weather in the US. Yesterday Hillary Clinton made it clear that she wasn’t going to accept the status quo and was making political reform and making it easier for every day Americans to participate in our democracy central to her campaign. Bravo! we say to that.

The issue of political reform – particularly ways to make our electoral system more democratic – has been a major issue for me and for NDN for many years. We were significant early funders of the Oregon vote by mail experiment which has now created a system with the highest participation rates in the country. We were among the earliest champions and advocates of the democratizing potential of the Internet, a new political tool that has allowed millions of Americans a far more meaningful way to participate in their democracy. When I ran for chairman of the Democratic Party in 2005, I made “making it easier for everyone to vote” one of the core tenets of my campaign, and I helped advise the DNC on their new efforts in this area last year. I also was the central architect of the plan which added a southern and southwestern state to the early primary window for the national Democratic party, a move, which implemented in 2008, allowed people of color to play a far more meaningful role in picking the Democratic nominee (and look what happened!).

In recent years we’ve aggressively advocated for the center-left to make these matters far more central to our work. We held a major forum on these issues at the Tisch School of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University a few years ago, and have published numerous studies and opinion pieces, a selection of which you can find below. Throughout all of this we have been guided by a simple belief that the center-left could not be a true champion of everyday people unless we helped imagine and build a 21st century political system that made it far easier for everyday people to participate in our democracy.

One thing my many years in politics has taught me is that Presidential primaries are a vital time for political parties and leaders to test out new thinking and new approaches. They are incredibly important for the renewal and regeneration of political leaders and the cultures of their parties. What we saw yesterday in this bold and ambitious speech by Hillary Clinton is that she understands that the single most powerful thing she can bring to 2016 is an inspiring argument for how to make our country better in the years ahead. And with this speech she is off to a great start.

For more from NDN on political reform, read these pieces:

"The Consent of the Governed," 12/17/14. This new analysis takes a look at whether, due to how fewAmericans are able to cast a meaningful vote in a Federal elections our electoral system, is still capable of conveying the “consent of the governed” to those in power in Washington.

"A Wake Up Call For Democrats - Simon's 2014 Post-Election Memo," 11/7/14. Republicans have made substantial gains in recent years, and are a much stronger national party. Democrats have a lot of work to do to compete and win against a resurgent GOP.

Leaving the Reagan Era Behind - Why Political Reform Matters for the Center-Left,” Simon Rosenberg,” NDN, 12/15/12. Some thoughts about the post-Sandy Hook shooting political environment, and the hard, tough struggles ahead necessary to usher in a new and better age of politics.

Has Congress Developed an Undemocratic Small State Bias?” 05/12/12. Ezra Klein referenced some recent research we published on what might be a creeping "small state" bias in Congress. Half of the country now lives in 9 states, the rest in the other 41 states.

Improving Our Democracy: Reforming The Electoral College,” 10/18/12. There may be no more important way to improve our democracy than to reform or eliminate the anachronistic Electoral College.

"The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era (No, Really!)," Mother Jones, 11/2007. The seminal long-form article by Simon and Peter Leyden which made the case that big changes in demography, media and technology and in the issues in front of the American people was opening a new and promising political age for the American center-left.

On FIFA, Fair Play and Our Global System Today

A few issues I’ve spent a lot of time writing about in the last few years have come together in a rather unexpected way these last few weeks. This is a bit of an early draft tying them all together, so indulge me a bit:

At the core of the President’s push for his Pacific trade agreement is an effort to modernize and extend today’s rules-based global trade system. This is a principal reason why I am so personally enthusiastic about TPP and potentially the European agreement to follow, TTIP. It is vital that America, the architect and guarantor of the global system over the past 70 years, take responsibility for updating and renewing this system for a new day.

As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe ensuring that this liberal system prevails in a time of great change and “the rise of the rest” to be the central project of center-left political leaders in the developed world over the next generation. This effort will manifest itself in many ways but today I want to focus on one country’s serial flouting of international conventions that will help illuminate why President Obama’s actions are so important. The country is Qatar.

Qatar has derived its enormous wealth from an illegal oil cartel that has held most of the world hostage for forty years. It has coddled some of the world’s most violent extremists central to the destabilization of the Middle East today. It has broken faith with global airline conventions, unfairly subsidizing its own state airline giving it a competitive leg up against European and American carriers. And perhaps most famously, it is now at the very center of the greatest public corruption scandal of our day, Sepp Blatter’s FIFA.  The farce of their securing the 2022 World Cup will remain the most enduring symbol of the epic corruption at the core of FIFA; that we know now that hundreds of virtual “slaves” have died in the early days of construction for the World Cup brings even greater shame to all those involved.

Many advocates have argued that we need to advance the President’s trade agenda to ensure that China doesn’t write the rules of the road of the next global order.  Along with others, however, I am frankly as concerned about the efforts of countries like Qatar and Russia to forge a far more Hobbesian system based on might and wealth rather than law, convention and “fair play.” As I’ve written elsewhere, bringing the petro-dictatorships of the Middle East and elsewhere into the rules-based global system remains one of the great unfinished projects of this era. The fall of FIFA will perhaps become a catalyst for a global conversation that is much more important than one about how we will manage football in the years ahead; it will become whether we want a world guided by liberal values or ones far more medieval.

Update: Appropriate that one of the world's most corrupt leaders, Vladamir Putin, has come to Blatter's defense.

Update (6/3): BuzzFeed News put out a major article that highlights the reaction in Qatar to the news that Sepp Blatter will step down, including that they have asked members of the host committee to stay off of US soil for fears of having them arrested.

Rob's Incomes Study Featured in Matt Bai Column

In his new column for Yahoo News, which does a deep dive into Rob Shapiro’s new study on incomes, influential journalist Matt Bai writes:"Shapiro's study is a remarkable analysis that refutes much of what we think we know about economic stagnation and inequality."
Intrigued? Well be sure to read the full study and Matt Bai's column to learn more. Rob’s new study is important and compelling work on perhaps the most important issue in American politics today.

I am really proud of Rob, this powerful new study and our decade long collaboration on these issues. For more on our work together, visit this post, which among other things, links to the Time Magazine piece which gave Rob and NDN credit for producing the “Most Important Chart in American Politics Today.” That story detailed the influence our economic work had on the Obama Administration as it prepared for the re-election campaign in 2012 and the impact we had on the UK Labour Party's thinking as well.

And a quick thank you to all our supporters. It is your funding over the years that has made this kind of critical analysis possible.

Please Thank These 13 Senators for Supporting the President on TPA

Yesterday, 13 Democratic Senators took a tough vote, stood with the President in doing the right thing for the nation and supported the bipartisan effort to pass trade promotion authority.

The 13 Senators who voted in favor of TPA were: Michael Bennet, Tom Carper, Chris Coons, Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein, Heidi Heitkamp, Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskill, Patty Murray, Bill Nelson, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner, and Ron Wyden.

We write to ask you to take a moment today to thank these Senators. There are many ways to do so, but the easiest is just call the Senate switchboard at 202 224-3121, ask to speak to their office and then let their receptionist know that you are grateful for their courage and support of the President’s trade agenda. I will be doing that today and more. I hope you will join me.

For more on NDN’s work in support of the President’s trade agenda, including my op-ed, “An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade” visit here.

Simon Rosenberg Statement on Today's TPA Vote

I hope that the Senate leadership can find a way to get to 60 votes this afternoon to keep TPA moving through Congress. The TPA Senators Wyden and Hatch negotiated is a strong bi-partisan improvement from similar bills that have come before, and it is in the national interest of the United States to see it passed.

But the struggle to find the votes is also a warning for the Republicans in Congress. They can do this with Democrats or to Democrats. Given how many trade votes are in front of us over the next few years – TPA, TPP, TTIP, AGOA at the very least – it would smart for this process to be bi-partisan and respectful from the outset. The stakes are too high for the Republicans to try to jam these things through, causing loss of Democratic votes and the collapse of what little bi-partisanship there is on these matters to date. Wyden and Hatch got this off to a good start – Republican leaders need to keep this momentum moving forward by working respectfully with the Democrats in both the Senate and House.

- Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN/New Policy Institute

The GOP's Hispanic Problem - The Hole is Very Deep

While it is conceivable that the GOP could nominate or place on the ticket a candidate who could do well with Hispanics in 2016 (Bush, Sandoval, Martinez, Rubio), the GOP starts out 2016 in a very deep hole that will be hard if not impossible to climb out of.

In the 2006 cycle the national GOP, led by the House GOP, rejected the more modern Bush approach to Hispanic voters, and firmly embraced a more vigorous anti-immigrant stance. In the 2006 mid-terms Hispanic voters fled the GOP, giving Democrats a 70/30 advantage, or about the same 2:1 margin Barack Obama got in each of the last two general elections. This is a long way from 40% President Bush received in 2004, a margin essential to his very narrow victory.

As the number of the Hispanics in the electorate increases every year this 2:1 structural advantage for Democrats becomes far more pernicious for the GOP every cycle, producing ever larger Democratic margins – in other words the GOP hole gets deeper every four years even if Democrats just maintain their current advantage.

Bush pollster Matthew Dowd once famously said that the GOP can no longer prevail in national elections without getting 40% of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Mitt Romney received 27% - a pre Bush margin for the GOP. All the gains in image and performance we saw for the GOP in the Bush years had been washed away by 2012 in part due to the GOP’s embrace of the "self-deportation" approach, or the simple idea that their solution for the 11m undocumented immigrants living and working among us was for them to leave.

So while there are large structural barriers to the GOP becoming competitive again with Hispanics in Presidential cycles, it is my own belief that the issue and cultural barriers are perhaps greater today than they have ever been in the modern era of American politics. It isn’t only that that the anti-immigrant forces in the have prevailed in the GOP’s internal struggles and blocked comprehensive immigration reform for a decade now; it is isn’t only that they voted affirmatively to accelerate the deportation of the kids at the border last summer or deport DREAMers, targeting not just undocumented immigrants but innocent children; it isn’t only that they voted repeatedly to reinstate the threat of imminent deportation over all 11m that had been lifted in 2010 due to a reform in the deportation policies of DHS; and it isn’t only that they are fighting tooth and nail the most recent DAPA reforms from President Obama that would provide deportation relief and work permits for 5m long settled immigrant families. Taken together, all of these steps represent a dramatic escalation of the GOP’s anti-immigrant impulses, putting them in an even more extreme place than the extreme self-deportation stance Romney took in 2012.

And as bad as all of that is what makes the GOP’s task even more daunting are the extreme positions they’ve taken on the other three big issues most struggling Hispanic families care most about – the economy, health care and education. Paul Ryan’s budget guts federal spending on public education. Repealing Obamacare denies health insurance to tens of millions of Hispanics, the demographic group who will benefit the most from the full implementation of the ACA (impossible to overstate the significance of this in 2016). The contrast of the performance of the economy under recent Republican and Democratic Presidents has become very stark as no demographic group made stronger economic gains in the US last year than Hispanics, and it is just a fact that under Clinton and Obama things have gotten much better for Hispanics, and under Bush much worse. The GOP has repeatedly fought raising the minimum wage, something very important to Hispanic workers in the US.

And even look at Cuba policy, something that could very easily become a powerful surrogate for the broader acceptance of Latin America and its peoples by the US and Americans. Rubio and Bush have doubled down on an anachronistic policy that is deeply unpopular in the US, in Cuba, throughout Latin America and even in Florida. The more nuanced and welcoming Obama stance on Cuba has played well in Florida, helping give the Democrats a majority of the Cuban-American vote in 2012. New polls out in the last few weeks show that a majority of Cuban-Americans back the President’s most recent diplomatic opening. The Bush/Rubio position on Cuba is a political dead end, and it will make it harder for them to reach the rest of the Hispanic population – something that was not the case in the W Bush era.

In my thirteen years studying the Hispanic vote, the issue contrast between Democrats and Republicans on the issues Hispanics care about most has never been greater or more potentially dangerous for the GOP. And the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, is well regarded among Hispanics and will run a well-funded and competent campaign. She starts with a strong personal and family standing, among the strongest of any Democrat in the modern era; with a large, significant and growing structural electoral advantage; and I would argue a structural issue advantage far more favorable for the Democrats than in any time in the modern era. So while it is possible that a Bush or a Sandoval could help the GOP limb a bit out this enormous political hole dug by other Republicans in recent years, it is my belief that today is far far more likely that Hillary Clinton gets to 70% percent with Hispanics and puts the election away than it is any GOPer makes the Republican ticket competitive again with this fast growing and vital vote in 2016. The hole is just too deep, the likely Democratic nominee is just too strong, and the potential GOP field just not compelling enough to make the difference.


Related Readings:


NDN Hosts D/USTR Holleyman for Digital Trade Speech

Along with Rep. Ron Kind, NDN was pleased to host Deputy United States Trade Representative Robert Holleyman II last Friday for a major, comprehensive speech on the digital economy and global trade. Called "The Digital Economy and Trade: A 21st Century Leadership Imperative," the speech described how President Obama’s high-standard, 21st Century trade agreements are designed to eliminate digital barriers to trade, as well as to ensure that the Internet remains open and free. 

To read the speech, visit here. Video of the speech is now available here or you can view below.  And be sure to check out this handy summary from USTR of the "Digital Dozen" - the twelve principles that are driving USTR's approach to the digital economy in the ongoing trade negotiations. 

Thanks to all those who attended our event. Please do read the speech and spread it throughout your networks. It is one of the most exhaustive and important articulations of the Administration's approach to realizing the promise of the Internet as we move deeper in the 21st century.

For more from NDN's work in support of the President's trade agenda, visit here

Invite: Fri, 5/1 - Digital Trade Event w/Amb Holleyman, Rep. Kind

We are excited to invite you to join us on Friday, May 1st for "The Digital Economy and Trade: A 21st Century Leadership Imperative" - a timely speech by Deputy United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Holleyman II. We are fortunate to have New Democrat Coalition Chair Rep. Ron Kind hosting us and making introductory remarks. 

From agriculture to banking to manufacturing to green energy, the digital economy is at the heart of America’s global competitiveness and prosperity. Whether you define digital trade narrowly, by the volume of products and services ordered over the internet, or broadly, by the volume of trade and commerce in which the internet and internet-based technologies play a significant role, digital trade is having a transformative impact on our economy. According to a recent report issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the combined effects of enhanced productivity and lower international trade costs in digitally intensive industries likely increased U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) by somewhere between 500 and 700 billion dollars. However, the ITC’s analysis also suggests that foreign trade barriers are having significant negative effects on U.S. digital trade. Those barriers include localization requirements, market access limitations, data privacy and protection requirements, and restrictions on cross-border data flows.

Ambassador Holleyman will describe how President Obama’s high-standard, 21st Century trade agreements are designed to eliminate those barriers, as well as to ensure that the internet remains free and open for all legitimate trade. This event will now take place on May 1st at 10 am in Rayburn House Office Building room B-354. In order to attend, please rsvp by registering here. If you previously rsvp'd, please do so again to ensure that we have you down for the new date.

Be sure to read NDN’s statement of support of Trade Promotion Authority, and my own op-ed, “An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade.” 

NDN Statement in Support of Trade Promotion Authority

“The bipartisan agreement on Trade Promotional Authority (TPA) is welcome news. Passing this TPA bill will be a critical step in helping bring ongoing trade negotiations with allies in Africa, Europe and in the Pacific to a successful close in the coming months. These trade agreements, if passed by Congress, will not just serve America’s geopolitical interests, but will also help our companies and workers succeed in a global economy where 95% of the world’s customers lie outside the United States.

But this bipartisan TPA is more than just a single, well wrought compromise among Senators Hatch and Wyden, and Representative Ryan. It is another step in Congress becoming a far more responsible partner with this Administration in advancing America’s interests in a fast changing and complicated world. With the range of issues in front of the US now – ISIS, containing Iran’s nuclear program, updating and expanding the global trade system, fashioning a better day for the US and Latin America, ensuring an open and free Internet and stopping Russia’s aggression in Europe (to name just a few) – this Congress all of a sudden feels consequential, and perhaps even historically important. If they can seize the moment, the Obama Administration and Congress can together fashion lasting bipartisan approaches to a whole set of vital global issues, leaving America far more secure and our people better prepared to prosper in a new century full of both great opportunity and challenge.

Thus NDN welcomes this new TPA bill, and congratulates Senators Hatch and Wyden, and Representative Ryan for their hard work in fashioning such sensible compromise today. We look forward to working with them to pass it through Congress and bring it to the President’s desk for his signature in the months ahead. “

   -  Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

As background, here are some of my other recent writings on the President's trade agenda:

- Fighting to Keep the Internet Open and Free, US News and World Report, 10/22/14.

-The Liberal Order Needs An Upgrade, US News and World Report, 9/23/14.

-Thoughts on the President's Trade Agenda, 1/31/14.

-An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade, Huffington Post, 1/21/14.

NDN Statement on WaPo/Univision Cuba Poll

"There is a lot to digest in this new, historic poll of the Cuban people.  But what seems clear is that two thirds of Cubans want a new and better path for their country; a majority believes the status quo benefits their government and not them; a minority supports the current regime and their politics; and the US and the American President are getting a lot of credit for working to help the Cuban people find this better day through the Administration's approach. 

If the ultimate end of the current policy approach of the Administration was to help move Cuba beyond the Castro era it appears that America has developed a powerful ally in this effort - the Cuban people themselves."

- Simon Rosenberg, April 8th, 2015

You can read more about this historic poll here.  And be sure to review this recent poll showing the new Cuba policy of the Administration has majority support among Cuban-Americans in the US. 

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