NDN Blog

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.

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. 

Less Hysteria, More Solutions on The Border, Migration Please

This essay was originally published on Monday, March 22nd and updated on Tuesday morning, March 23rd. The most complete version including important charts and graphs can be found here on Medium.

Less Hysteria, More Solutions on Border, Migrants Please – In a new op-ed I make the case that Brazil’s failure to contain its new COVID variant has become a threat to the entire region, one which the US should respond to by standing up a comprehensive campaign to defeat COVID throughout the Americas.

Standing up such a regional defeat COVID/build back better effort will also help the US create a clearer predicate for launching a long term strategy to bring peace, stability and prosperity to our Southern neighbors in Central America and perhaps Mexico too – a long overdue priority which will, among many other benefits, help stem current and future flows to the border. The rising rates of Mexicans apprehended at the border this year suggests that the weakening of the US and regional economies due to COVID has started creating migratory pressures in countries beyond the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) - something which could get far worse if the kind of COVID outbreak we are seeing in Brazil spreads across the region.  Part of our strategy to stop the current rising flow to the border should be to stand up a broad based regional campaign to defeat COVID and help the countries of the Americas stand their economies back up.

As for what's happening at the border today, let's look at some of the new data available to us now.  First, the current flow is within recent and historic norms.  This thread of various Pew Research reports shows that if we see 1m-1.2m border apprehensions this year we will be very much in line with the annual flows the US saw from the mid-1980s to the late 2000s, a time when we had far fewer border patrol.  It is also in line with 2019, the last year of data before COVID dramatically slowed the flows in 2020.  As Pew begins its most recent analysis: "The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended nearly 100,000 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in February, the tenth consecutive month of increased apprehensions and a return to levels last seen in mid-2019." This Pew report finds that after years of reduced flow, things really picked up in 2019, and that what we are seeing now is a continuation of trends in place prior to Biden becoming President.  A new analysis in the Washington Post today comes to similar conclusions.  The huge flows we saw in 2019 came of course at a time when the President Trump was in the White House and Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate. 

What is different this time, however, is the increase in Mexicans arriving at the border, as we discussed earlier, and the new surge of unaccompanied minors, something that both the Obama and Trump Administrations had to deal with during their Presidencies.  What has changed now, and you could see the immigration "market" responding to it, is that Biden, unlike Trump, is not sending underage migrants home; and is, instead, as the law and our humanity requires, allowing them to apply for asylum here in the US.  As this new Washington Post analysis shows the numbers of unaccompanied minors has increased rapidly, and this month will be 17,000, up from 5,000 in January.  While this is a big increase, an extra 12,000-15,000 children arriving into the US is not going to bring the country to its knees.  Almost everyone else is being expelled.  How sustainable this number is over time, and whether it is, as some have argued, the result of a short-term pent up COVID deferred desire to migrate we just don't know yet.  And it has to be noted that the overwhelming majority of people coming to the border now are single adults - not families or kids - a trend which also began under Trump, and another sign that COVID related economic pressures may be restarting more traditional regional migratory patterns - young men looking for a better life. 

This new Post article does a good job explaining all the steps the Administration is currently taking to deal with the flow of kids and to deter the dangerous treck to the border for all migrants. For as the Biden Administration keeps repeating, the border is closed, and the Administration has really stepped its effort to prevent people, particularly kids and families, from making the dangerous trek.

Finally, we want to go on record wholeheartedly agreeing with this analysis from the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent – the Trump Administration’s border policies were an indefensible legal, moral, policy, geopolitical and humanitarian catastrophe.  Not only did they purposefully send children and families to their deaths, but they also didn’t stop the flow of migrants to the border; under Trump we saw the highest rates of flow to the border that we’ve seen in the past 15 years, and rates of flow to the border rose every month in the last nine months of his Presidency.  Trump failed to solve this problem, and left an extraordinary mess for the Biden Administration to deal with – as they did in so many other areas.

The mess Trump left Biden of course is compounded by the repeated blocking by the extremists in the GOP of broadly popular, bi-partisan efforts to modernize the immigration system in 2006, 2007 and 2013.  If any of these "comprehensive immigration reform" bills had passed the US would be in far better shape today to manage periodic increases in flow like we've seen in the last few years, and in ways consistent with American values.  Like so many other challenges facing the country - climate, infrastructure, universal health care, gun safety - decades of Republican policy extremism has prevented the country from adopting common sense solutions on migration and the border which would have made the lives of Americans materially better. 

It is clear now that Joe Biden is intending to try to systemically address many of these long delayed national priorities, some years overdue, including immigration and border issues, in the coming days. And while the Biden team was perhaps a bit slow to respond to the increase in unaccompanied minors, the White House, State, DHS and HHS are moving now, as the Post article above details.  Given the enormity of the COVID and economic crisis Biden is facing (add SolarWinds, domestic radicalization, etc), and what should be rightly seen as Republican sabotage in not having a real transition and slow walking early Biden nominees, it is perhaps understandable that something like this could happen in the early days of a new Administration (HHS Secretary Becerra, who oversees the housing of the unaccompanied minors, wasn't confirmed until late last week).  And let's be clear - an extra 15,000-20,000 migrant kids is not a national crisis, and efforts to make it into one, coming from a party with such an abhorrent record on migration issues, is a lot for many of us to take. 

If Republicans are truly worried about the increasing flow at the border, there are a few things they could do right away:

- Support additional funding for temporary housing of unaccompanied minors in the US

- Work with Senator Schumer to fast track all Biden nominees at DHS and HHS who will be working on these tough issues

- Help the Administration stand up and implement a COVID plan for the Americas as a first step to a more comprehensive approach to the region, particularly Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries

- Endorse various efforts to modernize the immigration system, as Senate Republicans did in both 2006 and 2013. 

Team Biden is stepping up to address a tough issue left behind from the previous Administration.  It is one Republicans appear to care about a lot.  Democrats should ask GOPers to join them in coming up with a comprehensive response to the challenge like the one outlined above, rather than wasting everyone's time with photo ops at Trump's wasteful wall.

Analysis:Time For A COVID Plan For The Americas

This essay written by Simon Rosenberg was originally published in Medium. 

Time For A COVID Plan for the Americas

The worsening COVID crisis in Brazil has made it imperative that the US launch an aggressive plan to defeat COVID in the Americas. It is reasonable to assume that the far more deadly and infectious Brazilian variant is going to start spreading throughout the region, and the economic and societal damage it may cause is simply not in the interest of the United States at any level.

The US should begin mobilizing to help the nations of the Americas, totaling about 630 million people, for all hands on deck assault against the virus (vaccine, testing/tracing, therapeutics, masking etc). We will need to start committing resources from the Defense Department, State, USAID and other parts of the government to provide direct on the ground support; and the US should consider purchasing enough vaccine to ensure that each nation has enough to vaccinate their entire population in the coming months. We have already purchased hundreds of millions of doses beyond what is needed here in the US — that vaccine should be committed to the Americas first, and not to other regions of the world.

The Biden Administration has already starting planning for such an effort in Asia, working through “the Quad” — the US, Japan, India and Australia. Here, closer to home, we may have to launch something that might be considered an extension of our current domestic mobilization that has created large vaccination centers and other backstops to the state and local health authorities. Today the US announced it was making some of its stockpile of the AstraZeneca vaccine, not yet approved here in the US, available to Mexico and Canada. It is a great first step, but given the gravity of what’s happening in Brazil right now, much more will have to be done.

Doing everything we can to prevent the more virulent Brazilian variant from ravaging the Americas and potentially coming here prior to the US achieving herd immunity is something clearly and pragmatically in the national interest of the United States. But on a deeper level, this kind of American-led regional effort would be hugely beneficial to the understanding in the Americas of what the United States is and can be after a deeply anti-Hispanic America First Presidency. It will also help lay the political predicate for some kind of Marshall Plan for Central America, something which will be needed as a way of preventing the kind of flows to our border we’ve seen episodically since the great Mexican wave of migration slowed more than a decade ago.

As I wrote in an essay in the Mexican-based journal Letras Libres, COVID presents America and the Biden Administration with an extraordinary opportunity to remind the world of the greatness of America while reinvigorating the great liberal project Roosevelt and Truman launched after World War II. If America can successfully lead a global effort to defeat COVID and “build back better” it could become a defining moment for contemporary American liberalism, helping teach an entire new global generation of what modern democracies can accomplish when working together with the people of the world.

The Biden Administration’s rejoining of the WHO and its support of the global vaccine effort COVAX was an important first step in towards standing up such a American-led global strategy to defeat COVID; the establishing of the Quad to do help Asia defeat COVID was a terrific second step; the vaccines to Mexico and Canada a smart third step; standing up a plan for the Americas should be the fourth.

Vaccines and The Great Liberal Project

A New Foreign Policy Era Begins - The first major foreign trip of the Biden era is underway as Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin head to Japan and Korea with Austin also heading to India too. This trip comes on the heels of a Friday virtual meeting of “The Quad,” a new informal working group of the US, India, Japan and Australia which has come together among other reasons to successfully bring the COVID vaccine to the people of Asia in the coming years.  

In a Washington Post oped laying out the goals of their trip, Blinken and Austin write: “As the president has said, the world is at an inflection point. A fundamental debate is underway about the future — and whether democracy or autocracy offers the best path forward. It’s up to us and other democracies to come together and show the world that we can deliver — for our people and for each other.”

We are seeing the early days of what will be a new foreign policy era in Washington, one for now at least NDN will be calling “post globalization.”  It will be defined by the need to revitalize the great American led post WWII liberal project, and to ensure that democracies and not autocracies prevail in setting the global rules of the road in the 21stcentury. 

One aspect of this emergent strategy NDN will be following closely is something Simon wrote about in his big picture magazine essay on the opportunities of the Biden era – seeing the defeat of COVID and “building back better” as a global project, one which if America and our allies successfully lead can become a vital step in reinvigorating the great liberal project.  

We’ve scheduled an event on April 6thto do a deeper dive on these issues, as we will be talking with the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Jessica Brandt about the global information war which has broken out over the vaccines of the West, Russia and China.  It is a fascinating and important battle on a very new geopolitical playing field – hope you will join us on the 6th, and look for more from us in this space in the days ahead.  

It's The Governing, Stupid

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

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

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

Biden's Strong Job Approval

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

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

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

GOP Chooses Radicalism, Violence

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

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

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

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

Biden’s Call for Unity Met With Extremism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mask wearing on federal property 81–17

Rejoin the WHO — 70–28

Biden Handling of COVID — 69–29

Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords — 65–34

Reauthorize DACA — 65–33

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

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