NDN Blog

Essay: Biden’s Pragmatism, Republican Extremism

Essay: Biden’s Pragmatism, Republican Extremism

As we all try to come to understand what happened to the GOP, how an American political party could have become so lost and extreme, we come back to this basic idea – modern conservatism never really matured into a full-fledged political philosophy capable of governing a post-Cold War America.  It was an ideology that had its moment in the 1980s – a long time ago now – and has done more harm than good since. 

At its core the American right has seen itself as a corrective to a Democratic Party which had lost its way in the late 1960s and 1970s, and remains to this day most comfortable in seeing itself as a response to perceived excesses of the center-left (radical left, Marxists, BLM antifa now).  The problem for the right has been that a post-Clinton reformed Democratic Party was not excessive or leftist, but modern, pragmatic, successful; and thus the blocking of the Democratic agenda over time has became something reactionary and harmful to the national interest, not something virtuous. 

Consider the Dem agenda from Obama on.  A big stimulus, emphasizing clean infrastructure – cut in half, the clean part stripped out.  Slowed our transition to a low carbon economy, made the recovery slower than it needed to be. Immigration reform – blocked.  The ACA – relentlessly opposed, undermined despite it being an extraordinary success.  Min wage – blocked, leaving us with a ridiculous national minimum wage now. Iran nuclear deal – terminated, Iran restarts its nuclear program.  Efforts to make it easier to vote – rolled back, even authoritarian assaults on the Postal Service, the Census, the 2020 election, the Congress itself.  Climate – unyielding opposition, continued fealty to global oil and gas interests, including Russia and Saudi Arabia.  

Now, Biden.  His plan to defeat COVID, restart the US economy – opposed.  His plan to correct for years of chronic underinvestment in our infrastructure, hasten transition to clean energy economy – opposed, absurd arguments about what constitute infrastructure pursued.  Pragmatic steps to make it easier for all workers to succeed like universal child care - communism.  Immigration – hysteria and arm waving, no solutions (again, again).  

There are a lot of ways we can look at what Biden is doing now but to us here at NDN we think there is a deep pragmatism to it all.  COVID needed to be defeated – he is doing that.  The economy needed to be re-started – we are doing that. We need to transition to a clean energy future, modernize our infrastructure which we know from data has been underinvested in – we are doing that.  Globalization had made it harder for workers to compete – he has a plan for that.  Our immigration system is antiquated, and needs an update – he has a plan for that too.  Too many Americans, including those in red states and rural areas don’t have access to high speed Internet - well, we can fix that.  The Bush and Trump tax cuts were too big, and cut far too much from wealthy people and corporations – that can be fixed; and as learned from Clinton and Obama tax increases as part of a broader economic strategy can bring sustained growth to America.  Our democracy was attacked – we can protect it, strengthen it – and we must.  

The point is that none of what Joe Biden is proposing is radical, extreme, out of the mainstream, some lefty “wish list” not based on data and analysis. Everything he is proposing has extensive analysis to back it up, is based on years of policy debate and discussion. Consider that NDN, not a leftist organization, came out in 2005 for rolling back the Bush tax cuts and making major investments in child care/pre-k/community colleges/working training, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, universal health care and universal broadband.  In 2007 we endorsed a series of ideas to once again make infrastructure investment central to our politics.  In 2008 NDN came out for the carbon tax, and a massive “clean infrastructure” plan as part our recommendations to use the 2009 stimulus to create long term, sustained growth. In 2012 we argued for a big agenda to strengthen our democracy, as even then the anti-majoritarian impulses of the GOP had begun to emerge.  All of these ideas are at the very center of what Biden is proposing now.  None of them are new, or out of the mainstream of thinking in the US.  

Looking back at all this it’s hard not to see the 2010s as a lost decade for America, one where so much progress on the things that matter most were blocked by the rise of the Tea Party and the GOP takeover of the House in 2011.  Yes Obama was able to get the ACA done before 2011, but all these other vital things, things needed by the US, not Democrats, didn’t get done. Progress stalled, and America fell behind (most of the House Members who served in senior positions in the Trump White House came from the Tea Party faction).  

The reason even a Senate institutionalist like Biden is considering pushing so much through reconciliation and not through regular order is because for a decade now the GOP has been more focused on fighting Democrats than fighting the problems we face; and if anything is more radical and extreme today than it has ever been.  It’s as if the GOP’s only agenda now is to lie about the intentions of Biden and the Democrats, and try to paint us as extremists – it is that old impulse to act as a corrective to leftist largesse. Their fight is with us, not the challenges facing America. There is no GOP policy agenda.  No COVID strategy, no economic strategy, no health care strategy, no immigration strategy, no climate strategy – but there is a big agenda to overthrown the election we won, and to make sure we never win elections again.  We are even at the point where several states have introduced bills allowing the running over of “leftist” protestors with cars (a new favorite tactic of the right).  

If Biden is forced to choose between making progress on long unaddressed problems or appeasing a radicalized political movement which is no longer operating in the same information reality as the rest of the world what course should he take? Of course he has to choose what’s best for America – that is his solemn obligation.  

Joe Biden is a pragmatist.  America has problems.  He wants to fix them.  He has offered reasonable proposals for how to do so.  The debate now should be about the how, not the whether; and if Republicans cannot join the debate then he should act alone – it is the pragmatic, and necessary, thing to do.  One could even call it patriotic.

PS - John Harwood has a new analysis up on CNN which does a good job at exploring how reasonable Biden's economic plans are; those who believe they are radical are letting us know who they are. 

Video: Baer and Cherny Reflect on Democracy Journal (4/20/21)

On Tuesday April 20th NDN hosted a very special event - an in-depth discussion with Kenny Baer and Andrei Cherny about their journey founding and nurturing Democracy, the center-left intellectual journal they founded more than a decade ago. 

You can watch a recording of the event here.

In a recent article reviewing Democracy's impact NYTimes media reporter Marc Tracy wrote: "It has only 500 subscribers. And yet Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, a 15-year-old quarterly run by a three-person staff out of a small office blocks from the White House, may be one of the most influential publications of the post-Trump era.  Six of President Biden’s 25 Cabinet-level officials and appointees, including the secretary of state and the chief of staff, as well as many other high-level administration members, have published essays in its pages, floating theories that may now be translated into policy."

Kenny and Andrei have been part of NDN's extended family for many years, and we were excited to host this wonderful conversation about their careers and the broader journey the Democratic Party has been since the 1980s. 

For fun, here is something I wrote back in 2007 celebrating Democracy's 1st anniversary.  NDN is proud to have been a supporter of Democracy's work from the very beginning.

Hope you can find the time to watch the recording of the event.  It was a great an inspiring conversation - Simon

Analysis: Understanding Trump's Betrayal

Understanding Trump’s Betrayal– Getting the story right about the historic nature of Trump’s betrayal of the nation remains one of the most important tasks of the new Democratic majority, and one which will be very hard given how complicit so many Republicans and center-right institutions have been in a many years long betrayal of the United States.  

For us, there was a single, ongoing betrayal.  It began with the decision to enlist Russia’s support in the 2016 campaign.  It continued with years of aligning US foreign policy around Russian aims, in Helsinki, with Europe/NATO, Ukraine, the G7, Syria, Venezuela, the renouncing of the Paris climate accords.  It took an even darker turn with Trump’s sustained Putinesque attack on core pillars of our democracy in 2020 – the post office, the census, the election – all of which were established in the Constitution itself. And it reached an apotheosis in Trump’s organizing and unprecedented attack on the Congress and the certification of the Biden Presidency on January 6th. 

What makes this all one betrayal, one profound historic betrayal, is that the American experiment was always really about one thing – creating a sustainable governing alternative to authoritarianism.  Trump’s alliance with Russia to cheat/influence/win the election in 2016, his joining of Putin’s illiberal internationale, his 2020-2021 blitzkrieg against our democracy together placed Trump on the side of autocracy against American democratic traditions.  The years of covering it all up by Barr, Nunes, McConnell, McCarthy and the unrepentant support of the Jan 6th insurrection makes the Republican Party complicit in this betrayal.  It may have begun as Trump’s betrayal, but without a process to formally renounce this rancid politics, it has now been become a betrayal of the party of Lincoln and Reagan’s too.  

Video: NDN Talks w/Jessica Brandt About The Global Info War Over COVID Vaccines (4/6/21)

On April 6th NDN hosted a conversation with Jessica Brandt of the Alliance for Securing Democracy.  We talked about one of the most interesting new foreign policy battles of the early Biden era - the great power race between the US/West and authoritarian countries to vaccinate the world and be the ones to defeat COVID.  She's called her initial remarks "Harnessing the Truth in Service of a Lie: Russia, China, and Iran's Information Strategies in the Vaccine Contest." 

You can watch a recording of the event here, and Jessica's biography and important background readings are below. 

We are really excited about this discussion as it brought together important elements of the emerging Biden foreign policy vision which NDN has spent time working - the need to effectively counter rising illberalism around the world, and learning how to better engage and compete against Russian and Chinese information/hybrid war strategies. Jessica and her team have been doing path-breaking work in this area, and we think this will end up being one of our best events of the spring. 

From NDN, please review our call for the Biden Administration to launch a plan to defeat COVID in the Americas, and Simon's Letras Libres essay on the opportunity Joe Biden has to use the global effort to defeat COVID and build back better to reinvigorate the global liberal order imagined and built by the US after WWII.  

Background Reading

Influence-enza: How Russia, China, and Iran Have Shaped and Manipulated Coronavirus Vaccine Narratives (Alliance for Securing Democracy)

How China’s “wolf warrior” diplomats use Twitter to troll Beijing’s enemies (Vox)

How China's "wolf warrior" diplomats use and abuse Twitter (Brookings)

Leaks, Lies and Altered Tape - Russia's Maturing Information Manipulation Playbook (Alliance for Securing Democracy)

Jessica's Bio

Jessica Brandt is head of policy and research for the Alliance for Securing Democracy and a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She was previously a fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where her research focused on multilateral institutions and geopolitics, and where she led a cross-program initiative on Democracy at Risk. She is a member of the Advisory Council of the American Ditchley Foundation, a David Rockefeller Fellow of the Trilateral Commission, and a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations

34m and 2m - Numbers Critical To Understanding the Economic Debate in America

As the Biden American Jobs Plan kicks off a vital conversation about our economic future, NDN will focus our commentary on research and analysis which flows from our presentationWith Democrats Things Get Better.  At the very core of With Dems is two numbers - 34,000,000 and 2,000,000.  34m is the number of jobs created in the 16 years of the Clinton and Obama Presidencies. 2m is the number of jobs created in the 16 years of the two Bushes and Trump.

This data speaks to one of the most important realities of American politics in the post-Cold War era – Democratic policies have repeatedly, successfully navigated the new challenges of a different day, creating jobs/wealth/rising incomes and falling deficits; while Republicans have struggled to adapt to a changing world, and their policies have created 3 consecutive recessions/job loss/failing incomes and spiraling deficits.  The contrast between the performances of the two parties could not be starker, and it’s our contention that it is this lived experience of this successful/modern vs failed /reactionary dynamic that is driving the big margins Democrats are now garnering among younger Americans each election cycle (you can learn more about the big arguments in With Dems and register for an upcoming Friday presentation here). 

As Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their “jobs cabinet” go out on the road to sell their important new package, we believe telling the story of how things do get better when Democrats are in power – that our ideas and policies have repeatedly worked – should be an essential part of the pitch.  As will be the converse – that Republican economic ideas and policies have repeatedly failed, and should not be taken seriously in the days ahead.  It is critical for Democrats to force the post-Trump GOP/MAGA to confront and explain their party’s years of damaging, repeated policy failure.  It is not just smart strategy for the center-left, it is the only way the GOP eventually reforms and becomes a constructive part of our national politics again. 

The escalating repudiation of the GOP by very mainstream elements of American society suggests that the understanding that it's long past time for GOP/MAGA to get its shit together is starting to become a truly powerful force in US politics.  And while it is focused now on voting and our democracy, this movement could easily grow into a broader repudiation of the extremism of the GOP on a whole host of other matters, including COVID (let the virus spread), economic (2m jobs in 16 yrs, reckless tax policy), health care (strip people of pre-existing condition coverage, end health insurance for 30m Americans), national security (appeasment of Putin, weakening of our alliances), immigration (blocked pragmatic bi-partisan reform twice in past 15 years), gun and public safety (block reasonable gun safety laws) and an all too uncomfortable acceptance of an anchronistic and deeply dark white supremacy.  For the GOP has been no less radical in these areas than it has been in its relentless and un-American attacks on voting and our democracy.  The danger here for GOP/MAGA is that once reasonable people start viewing one part of its agenda as really out there, they will be open to consider whethe other long held GOP positions may be a bit more radical and extreme than they previously understood. 

As a way of providing more information for this important debate we will be presenting With Dems every Friday in April at 2pm ET.  You can register for a Friday presentation and learn more about the presentation’s big arguments here.  For a short, good summary of With Dems read Mike Tomasky’ rave review in the Daily Beast.  Please join us, invite colleagues and friends - all are welcome. 

Countering Illiberalism's Rise

Over the past decade, a major new threat to the Western liberal democratic order has come to the forefront of our politics - the rise of far-right illiberalism. Openly supported and aided by the Putin regime in Russia, illiberal political leaders including Trump in the US, Farage and the pro-Brexit movement in the UK, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and Viktor Orban in Hungary have gained significant political power, and have begun to erode democratic norms and institutions.

NDN has written extensively about the need for all political organizations and parties to more forcefully challenge this rising illiberalism.  Some of this work is below, and you can find more related thinking in our Protecting our Elections and Disinformation programmatic area. 

Biden, A New Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis: Understanding Trump's Betrayal - 4/19/21 - Trump's political journey has been an ongoing, unpredecented betrayal of America's core mission - creating a sustainable democratic alternative to autocracy. 

Video: NDN Talks w/Jessica Brandt About The Global Info War Over COVID Vaccines (4/6/21) - NDN was excited to host Jessica Brandt for a talk titled "Harnessing the Truth in Service of a Lie: Russia, China, and Iran's Information Strategies in the Vaccine Contest" - a deep dive into the early information battle over the major COVID vaccines. 

Vaccines and The Great Liberal Project - 3/15/21 - A new era of American foreign policy begins this week with the the Blinken-Austin trip to Asia.  Among the more interesting new issues arising in these early days is the contest over who will vaccinate the world and bring an end to COVID. 

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

Video: NDN Talks High Crimes w/Glenn Kirschner (2/16/21) - Come watch this terrific and timely conversation with NBC legal analyst, former prosecutor and just all around terrific guy Glenn Kirschner. 

GOP Chooses Radicalism, Violence - 2/3/21 - The refusal of the Republican Party to definitively repudiate political violence has thrust American politics into a very dark and dangerous place. 

Video: NDN Talks Strongmen w/Ruth Ben-Ghiat (2/2/21) - Check out terrific talk with Ruth Ben-Ghiat from February 2nd.  She does a great job talking about Trump, the rise of the authoritarian right in the US, and what might come next.  One of the best events NDN has done in a long time. 

Biden’s Call for Unity Met With Extremism - 1/25/21 - For anyone hoping the GOP would walk away from the radical, illiberal ways of the Trump era these last few weeks have been terribly disapointing. 

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

Confronting The Rising Threat of Domestic Extremism - 1/8/21 - The Jan 6th attack on Congress will be seen as a huge win by extremists, and will make our work countering this rising threat far more challenging.  Some thoughts on what we need to do now. 

Build Back Better/Reconstruir Mejor - Joe Biden's Historic Opportunity - Simon Rosenberg, Letras Libres, 10/1/20 - In a new essay for the influential journal Letras Libres, Simon offer his thoughts about what Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Democrats should fight for if they prevail in the election this fall (English and Spanish). 

The MAGA Era

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

In Salon Interview, Simon Talks About The Future of the Dems, Trump's Illiberalism - Chauncey DeVega, Salon, 8/24/20 - In an interview to mark the Democratic Convention, Simon sits down with Salon to discuss the future of the Democrats, the Biden-Harris ticket and Trump's dangerous illiberalism. 

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

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

The President's Illiberal Escalation in Portland Needs to End - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/17/20 - US citzens being disapeared into unmarked vans is exactly the kind of illiberal act NDN has been warning was coming.  It's not okay, and good people of both parties need to rise up and work together to prevent Trump from becoming an American Putin. 

Facing the Dark Turn of Trump's Presidency - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 7/6/20 - The nation has been subject to an extraordinary, relentless, and extended screed from the White House about the existential threat posed by the President’s perceived domestic political opponents, much of it imagined and fictional. The performance of the President, the White House and its allies these past few weeks has been reprehensible and dangerous

The Coming Reckoning With Russia - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/29/20- Someday, soon, America will have to look at and make sense of Russia’s years of attacks on our interests, its penetration of our political system, its brazen manipulation of our President.  It will be a very ugly but necessary process.

Crossing the Rubicon - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 1/29/20 - The GOP's increasing acceptance of illiberalism and actions at odds with our democratic tradition to gain/maintain power has become the most important political story of our time.

To Defeat Illiberalism, Democrats Must Embrace Their Success As A Governing Party - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 12/14/19 - Over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been the most successful center-left party in the developed world.   It is time it started acting like it, and begin to far more purposefully lead the fight against rising illiberalism here and abroad. 

Lavrov Comes To America For A Russian Victory Lap - Simon Rosenberg, GEN, 12/9/19 - In country after country over the past year the President has taken steps to align US foreign policy w/Russia's. It has been a dramatic, little understood development, and has left America a weakened power, Russia a rising one. Congress must step in.

Tariffs, Trump and Tyrants - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 5/31/19 - More Mad King than President, Trump's refusal to honor the laws, rules, and norms which make democracies work is the greatest High Crime of all.  His ill-considered, whimsical tariffs are just the latest example and should be forcefully challenged by Congress.

The End of Pax Americana?, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 1/26/17. Donald Trump is taking radical steps that is weakening the global order America imagined and built after World War II.  Before he does more harm to our interests, Congress must force a big debate about his vision, and challenge him if necessary.  

The Pernicious Politics of Oil Dec 16th, 2016.  Petro-powers are challenging the global order, and the next president seems uninterested in stopping them.

The West Is On The Ballot, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 11/4/16. In the column, Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

Calling all Patriots, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/13/16. While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee, and party, Simon suggest two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from.

Trump's Worrisome Embrace of Putin, Simon Rosenberg, NDN.org, 9/12/16. In this column, Simon does a deep dive on Trumpland’s embrace of Russia’s Putin, and why their admiration for his “strength” is a betrayal of our values.

The Liberal Order Needs an Upgrade - Simon Rosenberg, US News, 9/23/14.  President Obama should breathe new life into the international order when he speaks before the U.N.

An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade Jan 21, 2014 - The global system created by Presidents FDR and Truman has done more to create opportunity, reduce poverty and advance democracy than perhaps any other policies in history. 

"Forward, or Backward?" - The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess 10/25/12 - In a new magazine essay, Simon argues that the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant the Republican offering is becoming.  In both Spanish and English.

Immigration And The Border

Research and policy recommendations about our border and immigration system have been one of NDN’s most influential areas of work over the past 16 years.  We send along some of our most recent releases below, hoping they will inform your own work and thinking in the days ahead.  What is happening on the border today is not an emergency; and the crisis, if there is one, comes from the failure of Trump’s extreme immigration approach which has created an extraordinary mess on both sides of the US border with Mexico.   Responsible policy makers from both parties should use this moment to advance smart solutions to the real challenges our immigration system faces, many of them made far worse by Trump’s misguided policies.  In that vein we offer a three part plan for what the nation can be doing now to improve our border and immigration enforcement system, shore up our neighbors to the South, improve our economy, and remove this toxic debate from our politics so we the nation can move on to other more important matters. 

You can find extended takes from Simon on the immigration and border debate in this US News article by Susan Milligan, this USA Today analysis on the 2020 Democrats and immigration, this ABC/FiveThirtyEight piece by Geoffrey Skelley, a Telemundo piece by Maria Pena, a New York Times analysis from Tom Edsall, a Slate podcast and article with Univision's Leon Krauze, and a recent Washington Post piece from Michael Scherer and another by David Nakamura. 

Biden, A New Day

Less Hysteria, More Solutions on The Border, Migration Please -  3/23/21 - The challenges America faces on its southern border right now are tough ones, but not near as urgent as defeating COVID, restarting the economy, countering Russia and China, defending the US in cyberspace and many other challenges the Biden Administration inherited. 

Analysis:Time For A COVID Plan For The Americas - 3/18/21 - The worsening COVID crisis in Brazil has made it imperative that the US launch an aggressive plan to defeat COVID in the Americas.

Analysis: The Southwest Has Become A Democratic Stronghold- 12/9/20 -  Democratic gains in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country have been among the most important political developments in US politics over the past two decades.  It is a region transformed, and a new center of power in the 21st century Democratic Party. 

Chronicling the Failures of the Trump Administration

Notes On The GOP's Erosion In The Southwest - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 2/11/19 - The dramatic erosion of the GOP brand in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country over the past two elections is one of the biggest stories in American politics.  Trump's border extremism has cost the GOP dearly. 

The Ridiculous Shutdown, A President In Decline - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 1/7/19 - The shutdown isn't about a wall.  It is about our democracy and whether Trump is a President, or a dangerous mad king. 

Some Thoughts About The Caravan - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 10/24/18 - The Caravan, composed of 3,000 poor, unarmed, mostly Honduran migrants, poses no threat to the US, and illegal border crossings continue to be way down. Some thoughts on what Democrats should do to respond to Trump's farcical attacks and inane policies.

Trump's Brand Is His Xenophobic Immigration Policy. That's Why He'll Go To Any Lengths To Enact It - Simon Rosenberg, NBC News, 8/6/18 - Trump's separation of kids at the border is the result of a political crisis for his administration, rather than any real immigration crisis on the ground. As Trump's immigration policies continue to fail in the face of legal roadblocks and public outrage, expect even more outrageous policies from the administration.

Rebutting Trump’s Ridiculous Attack On “Chuck and Nancy” And All Democrats - Simon Rosenberg, Medium, 11/28/17 - The Democratic Party that Trump describes - on immigration, taxes, and more - is one that exists only in his mind. The Party that he is facing everyday is one that has governed responsibly when in power, and left the country far better than they found it.

The Case For Optimism: Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 11/19/18 - Simon argues that the great rationale of Trump's Presidency  –  that America is in decline – simply isn't true, and must be challenged more forcefully. This is the piece that spurred the creation of NDN’s “Patriotism and Optimism” deck.

Protecting Our Elections, Countering Disinformation

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

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

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

Biden, A New Day

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

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

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

The MAGA Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Materials

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

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

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

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

Media Citations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election And Political Analysis

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

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

Biden, A New Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 Election

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

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

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

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

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

Demographic/Geographic Analysis

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

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

Americans Under 45 Are Breaking Hard Toward The Democrats - And For Good Reason - Simon Rosenberg and Chris Taylor, NDN, 8/2/19 - Among the most significant political developments of the Trump era is the dramatic shift of under 45 year old voters towards the Democrats.From 2000 to 2016 D margin w/under 45s was 6 points. In 2018 it was 25. 

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflecting on MAGA's Indifference to Human Suffering

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

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

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