NDN Blog

Biden, Democratic State Parties Embrace Call to Forgo Illicit Campaign Tactics

Over the past few days, we’ve seen dramatic progress on efforts to prevent the continued proliferation of the kind of illicit campaign tactics Russia used in the 2016 election.  On Friday, Vice President Biden made his own very public and aggressive pledge (and see this companion video), expanding on his public commitment to the idea prior to him becoming a candidate.  And on Saturday, the Democratic States Parties passed a resolution calling on the DNC to encourage Democratic candidates to adopt such a pledge, and forgo the use of these tactics against one another in the Democratic Presidential Primary.  At NDN we are very proud to see an idea which we’ve arguably been the principal champion of making so much headway.  You can read more about these exciting developments in stories from Natasha Korecki in Politico and Amy Wang in the Washington Post.

We first called for a pledge like this in an op-ed published on Dec 18th, 2018 on the NBC News website: “The DCCC also made an unprecedented public pledge to combat these new malicious tactics by committing to never use hacked materials in the election, as was done against us in 2016. We think future pledges like this one should include promises not to hack, use hacked materials or use fake accounts, bots, troll farms or “deep fakes.” Whether the parties themselves can agree to a common approach remains to be seen — it didn’t work this time — but the DNC and sister committees should lead by example and get every Democratic presidential campaign to sign on to some set of practices similar to the pledge released by the DCCC in 2018.  Everyone in US politics, regardless of party, should follow our lead and commit to not use the tools the Russians used — and continue to use — against us and other democracies in our own work.”  

And we expanded on this idea in a series of essays, twitter threads, and television appearances in the months since. 

Where is all this going? Our hope is that these steps to create new norms, to make clear what is right and what is wrong in a democracy, will be adopted by all candidates and parties in the US, Democratic and Republican. These are common sense practices and should be the norm here and in democracies throughout the world.  In the days after the recent, horrific shooting in New Zealand we saw another step in this direction when a dozen nations came together with the major social media platforms in Paris to form the Christchurch Call, which is a broad commitment to rid the Internet of extremist speech.  Eventually we hope these incremental steps forward build over time into some kind of global set of norms, frameworks and understandings.  It just cannot be that the wanton interference in the domestic politics of other nations becomes commonplace, particularly as a tool of authoritarian governments to weaken the global democratic challenge to their unjust rule.  We have to draw the line now, brightly. And the courageous steps Vice President Biden and the Democratic State Chairs have taken in recent days should encourage all of us that we’ve begun to develop a coherent societal response to this particular pernicious manifestation of the digital age. 

Wyden Cyber Bill - The resolution passed by the State Chairs also endorsed an effort to make it easier to provide and pay for cybersecurity tools for federal campaigns and state parties.  Current law makes this hard, and recently Senator Wyden introduced a bill which would allow the party committees to use their building fund accounts to pay for cyber security tools and services.  This effort has also been backed by the Chair of the FEC, Ellen Weintraub, and other organizations including the Campaign Legal Center and R Street.  A version of the Wyden Bill will soon by introduced in the House.  More on that when it happens. 

Trump 1.0 Has Failed. What Comes Next?

Trumpism Is Failing – Two and a half years in and Trumpism is increasingly looking like a failed governing and political project.  No other President in the history of polling has been as unpopular as Trump in their first term; the 2018 elections were a significant repudiation of his politics and leadership; the economy is clearly slowing as the badly designed stimulus/tax plan starts to run out of gas and his trade policies wreck havoc on the US and global economies; his immigration approach is among the biggest policy failures modern America has seen; America's standing in the world has taken a huge hit; after years of dramatic decline, the uninusred rate has begun to rise again; perhaps no President has been less faithful to the promises they made during their campaign; and then there is the relentless crazy Twitter feed, wild policy swings, venal corruption, denigration of democracy and its rules, and the ongoing dance with despots and oligarchs.   It is just a huge ugly failure, a political bankruptcy, a tired TV show which has lost its magic.

Recent polls capture just how bad it is for Trump. Fox News has him losing nationally by 10 points to Joe Biden. Quinnipiac has him down by 13, Ipsos by 11, and Morning Consult by 11. Trump has now spent over 730 days with a net approval rating of -10 or worse. At this point in their Presidencies, all other Presidents since 1953 combined have been at -10 or worse for just 100 days.  He also trails Biden by 11 points in recent polls in MI and PA, showing that it is he and not Democrats who have to win back voters in the Rust Belt. New polls also have him down in AZ, NC, and even TX, 3 states which have not been part of the Dems' Blue Wall.  If the election were held today Trump would lose badly, McGovern/Mondale territory.  And as his recent retreat over Mexican tariffs demonstrates, he knows it.

As he kicks off his re-election, Trump has two options now.  Retool, reboot, move on to Trump 2.0.  Seems unlikely at this point, but could happen.  The other option is that he does something dramatic and dangerous to fundamentally alter the current political landscape which is so unfavorable to him now – war with Iran, trade wars with everyone, despotic attacks on his domestic opposition.  What our political system has to come to terms with in the short term is that the volatility we are seeing in the White House these days could get far worse, as nothing he is doing is working to improve his poor standing; the economy is going to get worse; and his legal troubles will worsen too.  Where might this take us? Nowhere good we fear. But where we are likely not headed is a second term for this accidential and awful President. 

NDN's Chris Taylor made significant contributions to this analysis.

Dems Have Already Won Back Voters In The Rust Belt. It's Trump Who Needs To Win Them Back Now

Perhaps the most persistent myth in American politics today is that the President has some magical hold on voters in the Rust Belt, and that his anti-immigrant and protectionist policies would make it difficult for a Democrat to win there in 2020.  There has been enough polling now for us to conclude that at this point in the 2020 race, it is Trump not the Democrats who faces an uphill climb in the Rust Belt next year.  Let’s look at some numbers:

Michigan – A new Detroit News poll has Biden up over Trump 53-41, and other Democrats are posting strong numbers there as well.

Pennsylvania – A recent Quinnipiac University poll had Biden up over Trump by a similar spread, 53-42.  

Morning Consult has Trump’s approval in these states down 17-19 points net since early 2017.   This morning Axios reported that “Internal Trump polls have Biden substantially ahead in the Rust Belt." And there are even recent polls showing Biden leading Trump 48-44 in Texas, 49-44 in Arizona and 53-41 in North Carolina.

While it is still early in the Presidential race, a few observations about these numbers:

1) Trump’s trade and immigration policies are not working for him even in the Rust Belt, and we know they have caused him and the GOP brand significant harm in the heavily Mexican-American parts of the country.   Trump has had the worst poll numbers of any President at this point in their Presidency in the history of polling.  It's getting hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump as a political project is failing.

2) There is evidence now that Trumpism/illiberalism is causing voters to rethink important issues, and what might be considered a “backlash” is emerging here and in Europe.  When Trump and the GOP attacked the ACA in 2017, we saw a 23 plus jump in its standing (from 38-49 in April 2016 to 50-38 today), as if voters realized they had something valuable once someone threatened to take it away.  The same may be happening with the openness of our societies here and in Europe and the UK.  In 2018, the US handed Trump one of the worst midterm defeats of the past few decades, and the GOP’s losses in MI and PA were among the worst of any state in the nation.  In the 2019 European elections, the party which gained the most ground were the Liberals, a party associated with open trade and immigration and the European project.  Liberals saw similar gains in the UK.  The Greens, a party which also could be considered to be in direct opposition to Trump’s politics, also made important gains in Europe and the UK.  Here, in early 2019 polls the candidate most identified with “liberal internationalism,” Joe Biden, has large leads in both Democratic Primary and general election polls. 

It is also important to note that in Europe the combined forces of both the center-right and far right actually lost seats in the European Parliament, as did the far left.  We’ve also seen significant declines in the standing of Bernie Sanders here in the US, and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, political leaders on the left who’ve historically been more skeptical of the global liberal order. 

3) Democrats are currently very pro-free trade and anti-tariff.  The notion of the Democratic Party as a protectionist party is not now and has never been true.  The current global order was imagined and championed by FDR and Truman.  NAFTA, the Uruguay Round, China’s ascension into the WTO, and the TPP were all advanced by Democratic Presidents.  Current Democratic voters are overwhelmingly in support of openness and America’s leadership in the world, and even specifically pro-free trade by very large margins (67-19 in favor of free trade, 77-15 against tariffs).

4) It is our hope that in coming days Democrats see trade as an opportunity and lean in, as we’ve argued they should be doing on immigration too.  The nation and the Democratic coalition is in favor of the openness of the modern world, but we need to make our case, not let Trump define the terms of the debate.   Dems should begin by far more forcefully rallying against the President’s dangerous tariffs, and then perhaps advocate for the US to rejoin TPP if we are able, and be open to the new NAFTA if improvements can be made.  But most importantly, Democrats should tie our advocacy for an open world, perhaps our Party’s most important legacy, with far greater investments in everyday people and their prospects.   Ideas like expanding the ACA, raising the minimum wage, hastening the transition to a post carbon world, creating a new Department of Jobs, Skills, and Economic Development should all be considered in tandem with modernizations of the global trade system.   Many good ideas are coming from the Democratic Presidential debate.  What that would mean in the short term for example would be to condition Dem support for the USMCA to a rollback of Trump's policies weakening the ACA, as the ACA is one of the most successful programs ever put into place to help workers navigate the challenges of a more competitive global economy; or tax hikes and full funding of a national infrastructure plan; or passing comprehensive immigration reform.  

Tariffs, Trump, and Tyrants

One of the great animating principles which drove the founding of America and the design of our government was the quest to curtail the power of a single person to determine the fate of the nation without reasonable deliberation and what we call checks and balances.   There is perhaps no more quintessentially American idea than this – that the President is not a sovereign, but a partner in governing the nation with Congress and the Judiciary; that he or she serves the people, not themselves; that we are a nation of laws, not men and women.

After more than two years of his Presidency, it just isn’t clear that Donald Trump agrees with this time worn American belief that the power of an executive in a democracy must be limited and checked.  At the core of Bob Mueller’s report to the American people are profound questions about Donald Trump’s willingness to trample democratic norms and laws, even openly working with a hostile foreign power to influence the outcome of an American election.  The President showers authoritarian strongmen like Putin, Kim, and Orban with praise, and denigrates our democratic allies.  In case after case – the unrelenting lying about everything, the refusal to divest from his businesses, the unilateral deployment of the military on US soil, the years of obstruction documented by Mueller and the unprecedented disregard for the oversight responsibilities of Congress, the many times the President’s policies have been stopped by US courts, the granting of security clearances over the objections of professional staff and the intelligence community, the wanton lawlessness of his Cabinet and staff, and the persistent invocation of emergency powers when no emergency exists (either the US economy is the best ever or we are in a national emergency, can’t be both) – the President has refused to abide by the laws and norms essential to making our democracy, or any democracy, work.  In many ways he has become the type of American leader our Founding Fathers tried so hard to prevent from ever occupying the White House. 

It is in this light that we must see, and ultimately challenge, the President’s use of tariffs with Mexico, China, and other nations in the world.  The way he is using them, without consulting Congress and by whimsically announcing and enacting them without public debate or deliberation, is simply outside any reasonable understanding of how our nation should be governed.  They are the actions of a tyrant, or a Mad King, not an American President.  They also, perhaps even more importantly, violate the entire theory of how the post WWII order, designed and built by the United States, was supposed to work.  Whimsical use of tariffs has been essentially outlawed or highly constrained in our global system, in ways similar to how we’ve approached chemical and nuclear weapons.  Their escalating use in the pre-war period led to world war, and leaders from around the world came together and designed a system which sought to eliminate their existence entirely.  The President’s repeated deployment of tariffs to achieve not just economic but political objectives is a clear break from the norms and laws of the modern world. 

What the President has done with his tariffs, Mexican and otherwise, is therefore both a clear betrayal of the American system of government, and of the system we designed and built for the world after WWII.  As many predicted, the tariffs are slowing global economic growth, slowing American growth, creating extraordinary tensions with our largest trading partners and most important geopolitical allies, and weakening the global system America built that has ushered in the most peaceful and prosperous period in all of human history.  Congress has a profound duty to step in now and stop this dangerous abuse of Presidential authority before more harm is done to the United States and the world.  It can begin by advancing a bicameral, bipartisan bill already introduced into Congress that is designed to reign in the President’s abuse of his tariff authorities. 

But Congress has an additional remedy it is considering now – impeachment and removal.  It is my own belief that if Congress does begin the process of removing the President, among the more persuasive arguments which will need to be made is Donald Trump’s historic abandonment of the democratic principles which have inspired the world and made America great.  Refusal to embrace those principles, flirting and encouraging autocratic whimsy rather than democratic deliberation, is perhaps the greatest crime an American President can commit, for it is a betrayal of our nation’s most important contribution to human kind – that it is the people who are sovereign, not Mad Kings and tyrants.  There is perhaps no greater rationale for the removal of a President than failure to maintain fidelity to our democratic system itself. 

For more on why Congress should be challenging the President’s tariffs see this recent series of essays from the NDN team. 

Key Takeaways from the European Election

In a weekend Twitter thread I did a deep dive on the results from the European elections: big turnout, gains for the Liberals and Greens, losses for the establishment left and right, and less power for European parties on the right. Support for the European project held, but the governing coalition will now be broader and more complicated, with the Liberals and Greens having much more influence than before.  ew voices and new politics will emerge now in Europe. 

One group who will not have more influence is the European far right.  Overall the center-right/far right parties saw their representation in the European Parliament drop from 49.5% to 46.7%. The three far right parties went from 21% to 23%, gains that were less than anticipated, and became only a bit more of a smaller and less powerful right-of-center pie.  Even in the UK it appears those voting for Remain outpolled those voting for Brexit, though things remain closely divided there. 

Loss of ground for the center-right/rfar right, and gains for Liberals and Greens, feels similar to what we are seeing here in the US. The GOP got beaten badly here in 2018, and Donald Trump is the weakest incumbent at this point in his Presidency in the history of polling - with no near peer.  President Trump would lose to Joe Biden by a large margin if the election were held today.  In the Democratic Party, we are seeing a huge rise in the import of countering climate change, and Dem voters hold very “liberal” views on immigration and trade, supporting free trade and opposing the President’s tariffs by wide margins.  Importantly, in Europe you did not see the rise of a far left to counter the rise of the far right – the party which gained the most ground was the Liberals, a centrist pro-EU alliance.  The far-left alliance actually lost ground in Europe, perhaps tracking the decline of the Labour Party in the UK and Bernie Sanders here in the US. 

As NDN has been arguing for months, the response of the center-left to the rise of a radical and dangerous far right politics here in the US has been something that feels far more like pragmatism than anything else. It's how we won the House back in 2018, how Pelosi is leading today, and in our own 2020 field, the politician most associated with that politics holds a commanding lead.  It isn't that the rise of AOC and are allies isn't important - it is.  But is our take that their influence and the Democratic Party's leftward drift has been exaggerated.  Consider that the Justice Democrats, her group, won only 7 of its 67 races in 2018; and that 40 of the 59 new House Democrats have joined the New Democrat Coalition, a group long associated with pro-market, pro-trade "liberal" politics. 

If your basic analysis is the radicalization of the other party has become dangerous, it would stand to reason you would be wary of embracing extremism in your own party. 

I would also posit the rise of the “Greens” here and in Europe is a pragmatic response, long overdue perhaps, to a serious global challenge and threat.  Fascinating to see the response to the perceived threat of Trumpism/Orbanism/Putinism to be a pro-globalist pragmatism and one working to hasten the arrival of a post-carbon world – both of these impulses seem very much in line with what is needed now, and ones that should worry the GOP about next year. 

Is Trumpism Failing? His Declining Poll Numbers Sure Suggest So

In a post earlier this week I noted that Trump had experienced a very dramatic decline in his standing in Rasmussen, his favorite pollster, dropping from 51/47 (+4) to 44/54 (-10) over the past 3 weeks.  Nate Silver’s 538 has found similar slippage, as Trump has dropped from 42.7/52.4 (-9.7) to 41.1/53.8 (-12.7) in just the past 2 weeks.  It is just hard not to conclude at this point that Trump’s big play of the last few months – tariffs, global saber rattling, border chaos, burying Mueller – hasn’t worked, and in fact is in some way contributing to his rather abrupt decline.  I review all this data and the points made in the last graph below in a new post today.

The media has failed to capture how fundamentally unpopular Trump is right now, and how much trouble he is for re-election.  His unpopularity is unprecedented in modern American history.  In a study released by NDN a few weeks ago, we found that this point in their first term, all post war American presidents had:

- Net approval of + 22.5.  Today Trump’s is 12.7.  He is net 30 points below the average of all first term post war American Presidents at this point.

- 72 days at -10 or worse approval.  Trump has had more than 700 days at -10 plus so far in his Presidency, or ten times all other post war American Presidents combined.

Trump is even in trouble in MI/PA/WI, the 3 states most critical to his success in 2016.  The GOP was blown out in these states in 2018, and according to Morning Consult, Trump has lost between 15 and 19 pts net in favorability in all three.  A new poll has him trailing Joe Biden by 11 points in Pennsylvania.  His America First policies have pushed the heavily Mexican American parts of the country significantly towards the Democrats in the last two elections, almost certainly putting CO and NV out of play, and AZ and TX very much in play for the Democrats.  A recent poll in Arizona had Biden leading Trump by 5 there.  And if Texas is indeed in play, it will be $200-300m problem for Trump – no small thing.

Incumbents very rarely come back from where Trump is today.  His Presidency increasingly feels like a failed one, and many more days like today and it certainly will be.

2020 Election And Political Analysis

Election and political analysis has been a major program area for NDN over the past 20 years. Here you can our work on the 2020 general election and democratic primary, Trump's popularity through three years in office, and more detailed geographic/demographic analysis. As well, our 2018, 2016, and 2014 election analyses are also available for your review. 

Top Lines

Simon's "Notes On 2020" Column - Simon writes a short column on the 2020 election and national politics at the beginning of each week.  You can find them all here.

Analysis: Trump Is The Least Popular First-Term President Since WW2 - Chris Taylor, NDN, 9/11/19 - Trump is the most unpopular first-term president in over six decades and is leading Republicans down the path of the California GOP by ignoring those demographic groups that will over the next decade become more and more critical to winning elections.

Trump 1.0 Has Failed. What Comes Next? - Simon Rosenberg, NDN, 6/18/19 - Evidence of the failure of Trumpism is all around us.  His poll numbers are the worst of any 1st term President, his policies have left the nation weaker, more isolated.  As he begins his re-election campaign, Trump is looking increasingly desperate, and we fear, dangerous. 

Demographic/Geographic Analysis

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. 

$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."

Three Things We Need To Do Now To Protect Our Elections In 2020

This essay originally appeared on Medium.

Despite how front and center Russia’s significant campaign to influence the 2016 elections has been in our politics these past few years, little has been done to ensure it doesn’t happen again in 2020. No major bill addressing foreign interference has passed the Congress, the strategy of the United States government remains opaque at best, and of course our President has still not accepted that Russia did intervene last time. This lack of action comes despite the US intelligence community giving repeated warnings about Russia and other nations trying again in the 2020 election; and in recent weeks FBI Director Wray has been loudly raising the alarm about an unprecedented rise in cyber-attacks happening now against American interests. Given how late we are to taking action — the election began three months ago, twenty candidates are actively campaigning for President and voting begins in January — there are three things which the nation’s political leadership should prioritize and make happen in the coming months:

Require Paper Ballots And AuditsFirst and foremost: make sure every state uses unhackable paper ballots and conducts mandatory post-election risk-limited audits of votes (something currently required in Colorado, Rhode Island, and Virginia). Getting this done by the November 2020 elections is going to require swift action, strong leadership from the Administration and Congress, and federal resources. Our current system of leaving election security up to the states, with no minimum mandatory standards, isn’t an adequate response to the reality of the threat today. The simple truth is without paper ballots and audits we have no way of knowing whether our election results have been altered. The lack of leadership from the White House on this fairly straightforward issue has been profound, and dangerous.

Protect Federal Candidates From Cyber Attacks/Hacking And DisinformationWhen it comes to protecting political candidates for federal office from the kind of activity we saw in 2016, the candidates and their political party campaign committees are essentially on their own. The Department of Homeland Security just isn’t yet in this business, and the extraordinary turmoil we are seeing at DHS now will make it far less likely a real program will emerge in the coming months. The cyber protections that federal elected officials receive in their official capacity as Senators and House Members do not extend to their campaigns or private activity, nor does it extend to candidates who are not yet elected. Essentially, it’s up to the candidates and campaigns to protect themselves — even though few politicians are cybersecurity experts — from Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean government hackers and disinformation campaigns.

A series of things must be done here to address these emergent challenges. First Congress should work with DHS to establish a clear and transparent process for information sharing and technical support at the very least with the six federal party committees — the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, DNC, DSCC and DCCC — who can then extend similar services to each of their campaigns. Next each party committee should add a Vice Chair for Cyber Security to oversee these efforts and a Chief Security Officer to ensure the Committee’s access to the technical knowledge required to truly protect our candidates. The strategy for how each Party Committee approaches their responsibilities in these areas should be public, perhaps on their FEC filings; and robust programs with modern tools, fulsome information sharing and extensive training should be funded and executed.

The two offices that provide cyber security for Congress, the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the House Chief Administrative Officer should be given additional authorities and resources, including the ability to help extend protections to the political and private communications of Senators and House Members. Congress should also make counter intelligence and cyber security training mandatory for all principals and staff, and this training should be conducted at least annually as the threats, tactics and tools are always evolving.

Candidates Should Enter Into A Pact To Forgo Use Of Illicit Campaign TacticsOne of the great dangers facing the US in the coming years is that the kind of illicit tactics used by the Russians — hacking, weaponization of stolen information, extensive use of fake accounts and inauthentic amplification — becomes commonly used by domestic actors here in the US against one another. It is vital that responsible leaders of both parties come together and commit to forgoing the use of these kinds of tactics in our democracy.

Many European political parties have signed on to a pledge to forgo these kinds of illicit tactics in their May elections. The Democratic Party State Chairs of the four early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — have expressed support for the idea of the Democratic Presidential candidates entering into a binding pact with one another committing to forgo the use of a wide range of these tactics. Encouragingly, all of the Democratic candidates up and running in late February agreed to forgo the use of stolen or hacked material in the 2020 elections, a tactic central to how Russia influenced our election last time. It is a good first step but much more must be done.

As an advisor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2018 elections, I supported both extensive cybersecurity security and countering disinformation operations run by the Committee. We worked with the social media platforms to take down illicit activity, and reported cyber intrusions to the FBI. But at no point did we work cooperatively with anyone else in the federal government. The systems for information sharing, joint learning, training and tool evaluation simply aren’t there yet. We were on our own, as are the campaigns and party committees of both parties this election cycle.

Simply put, we are not ready. The country hasn’t taken the kind of commonsense steps to protect ourselves that we should have taken after Russia’s historic attack on the nation in 2016. The kinds of things I describe above should have happened in 2017 and 2018, and been up and running on January 1st, 2019. They didn’t happen — but they should now. While there are many things which can be done to protect our elections (like the Honest Ads Act and DETER Act, and of course HR1) to me these three steps are the most important and achievable in the coming months. I urge our candidates, elected leaders and the Trump Administration to step up and work together to get them done as soon as possible.

NDN Applauds The Progress Made Towards Reining In Trump's Tariff Authority

NDN applauds the progress we've seen this week towards challenging the President's whimsical use of tariffs to achieve his trade objectives. We're pleased that the New Democrat Coalition's Trade Task Force sent a letter on Wednesday urging the President not to impose auto tariffs on our close trading partners, and are also pleased about the more vocal opposition to these tariffs now coming from Republicans as well.

NDN has already endorsed the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act and the Automotive Jobs Act, both of which would put constraints on the President's tariff authority. We continue to believe that the President's frequent and routine invocation of national emergencies as a justification to put tariffs on our closest allies is an extraordinary abuse of President power and should be more forcefully challenged by Congress.

Related Writings: 

Congress Should Warn The President Against Levying Tariffs On Europe - 3/21/19 - The hostility shown by the President and his family towards Europe this week has reinforced the need for Congress to send a clear message to Trump that if he chooses to put tariffs on European goods there will be consequences for his Presidency and his agenda in Congress.

NDN Supports Bicameral Tariff Bill - 2/8/19 - NDN is pleased to endorse and support the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019, legislation which provides critical Congressional oversight on the President’s ability to use national security as a justification to impose tariffs on our close trading partners.

Trump's Tariffs Are A Growing Threat To The American, And Global, Economies - 11/28/18 - US growth expectations have fallen, manufacturing and agricultural firms now face higher costs and weaker demand, and the trade deficit has surged. With a President unwilling or unable to grasp the risks of a broader trade conflict, it is up to Congress to challenge Trump far more directly on his reckless trade policies.

Iowa, Trump, and the Politics of Globalization/Tariffs - 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. 

Congress Should Warn The President Against Levying Tariffs On Europe

We are at the point now where Congress should send a clear message to President Trump that if he chooses to put tariffs on European automobiles and other goods in the coming weeks there will be consequences for his Presidency and his agenda in Congress.   Given the struggles Europe is having with Brexit, its upcoming May elections, and a slowing economy, launching tariffs at this particular moment would be rightly interpreted in Europe as an unnecessary and reckless hostile act and do grave and lasting damage to America’s relations with our closest historic allies.  Additionally, as we’ve written elsewhere, the President’s repeated evocation of emergency powers to levy tariffs without the approval of Congress is a dangerous abuse of Presidential power and should no longer be tolerated by leaders in either party. 

Events of the last few days have made this kind of aggressive action by Congress far more urgent.  First, the President’s son, Don Jr, penned an op-ed in a UK newspaper attacking Prime Minister Theresa May for her ineffective management of Brexit during perhaps the most consequential week of this sorry saga.  An extraordinary step, the op-ed demonstrated a willingness by the President’s family, and perhaps his government, to take dramatic action outside of all traditional diplomatic protocol to hasten the breakup of the European Union.  Second, the President has used remarkably hostile language about Europe in recent days, most notably in this exchange with the Irish Prime Minister at the White House last week.   With the Irish Prime Minister sitting next to him, the President said about Europe: “We are going to do something that’s pretty severe economically.  We are going to tariff a lot of their products coming in.” 

The formation of the European Union was one of America’s most successful and important post war projects.  In April, Europe and the United States will be marking NATO’s 70th Anniversary, and in May, Europe will be holding elections for representation in the European Parliament.  This should be a time to be celebrating our historic alliances and partnerships, not attacking them.  And at a broader level, Congress must now, as best it can, not just work to counter or mitigate the damage the President is doing to our nation and its interests, but to prevent it. 

While we believe anything the House and Senate do should be very aggressive, at the very least they should give serious consideration to two bills currently in Congress: the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019, sponsored by Senators Toomey (R-PA) and Warner (D-VA) in the Senate, and Reps. Kind (D-WI), Panetta (D-CA), Gallagher (R-WI), and LaHood (R-IL) in the House, and the Automotive Jobs Act, sponsored by Reps. Sewell (D-AL) and Upton (R-MI). The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act provides critical Congressional and Department of Defense oversight on the President's Section 232 ability to use national security as a justification to unilaterally impose tariffs, while the Automotive Jobs Act requires the federal government’s International Trade Commission to study the economic impact of auto tariffs before they can be implemented by the President.

With all of the warning bells ringing for the American and global economies, and our alliances with key trading partners, it is time now for Congress to engage and directly challenge the President on his irresponsible tariff policy.

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