Renewing Our Democracy

Over our many years of work NDN and its extended family have been at the forefront of a national conversation about how to best improve our democracy itself.  While at the DNC in 1993, Simon put the first American political party on the Internet.  We were early champions and supporters of Oregon’s innovative Vote By Mail program which has produced some of the highest voter turnout figures in the nation.  We have promoted same day registration, early voting, and eliminating the Electoral College as ways of encouraging broader civic participation.  We were early proponents of “internet based campaigning,” understanding that a digital age politics would make it far easier for people to participate than in the TV “couch potato” age.   We have argued that a pernicious small state bias has crept into our democracy, one which is thwarting the will of the majority and a far more diverse US population.  We have marveled, and worried, about how the design of our democracy could give one political party is strongest levels of support in seventy years while simultaneously stripping it of control of both legislative chambers. We were very early in raising the alarm about the ability of foreign powers to intervene in our political system, and about one party's clear enabling of this illegal and pernicious interference.  And finally, we were the primary champion of the idea of expanding the early Presidential primary states  beyond Iowa and New Hampshire, a reform which for the 1st time allowed people of color to play a truly meaningful role in picking the nominee of the Democratic Party.  

It is now a universal belief in the United States that our democracy is no longer working as it should. Trump's Presidency has confirmed many of our worst fears aobut the fragility of our democracy rather than its resilience.  Many traditions and norms are being tossed aside with far too much ease.  There is no question that in the coming years a great deal of work will have to be done to address some of the very real weaknesses in our political system exposed over the past generation.  For the rising Millennial generation, one of the most civic minded in our history, renewing American democracy for a new day will be one of this new generation's greatest opportunity, and perhaps responsibility too. 

Some of our work in this vital space: 

Major Pieces

A Primer on Social Media Bots And Their Malicious Use In U.S. Politics, Tim Chambers,, 9/13/17. This new, compelling paper by long time NDN collaborator Tim Chambers explains what bots are, looks at their malicious use in US politics and offers some ideas on what to do about it in the days ahead.  

Protecting American Elections in the Digital Age, OSET Institute, 9/12/17. The OSET Institute has published a new Critical Democracy Infrastructure briefing.

Founding Fathers and Consent of the Governed, Simon Rosenberg, Twitter Thread, 7/25/17. Simon reflects on the the Founding Fathers and their quest for creating legitimacy through elections, not blood and divinity.

A Department of Jobs, Skills and Economic Development, Simon Rosenberg,, 7/20/17. Simon makes the case that the US government needs to innovate in a time of global competition and technological change, and offers the idea of creating a new government department focused solely on job creation and skill acquisition.

Stand Firm: Democrats should ask for 3 major things in their coming negotiations with Trump, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 4/20/17. Democrats should put Russia, corruption and tax returns on agenda with Trump.

The RNC's Russia Problem: The RNC Should Take The Lead In Preventing Future Inference In Our Election Campaigns, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 4/14/17. The RNC helped Russia interfere in our elections. It should now take the lead in making sure it never happens again.

Drawing the Line with Trump, Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 1/31/17. In his column, Simon argues that Democrats need to abandon traditional responses to the Trump Presidency, and set new rules of engagement.

An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies Is Now Necessary, Simon Rosenberg, US News and World Report, 1/12/17. In his column, Simon argues that Trump's plan to keep all of his holdings establishes new far weaker norms, encourages public corruption, creates many new terror targets, and exposes the US to exploitation by foreign governments.

Trouble Ahead - 4 Scandals That Could Alter the Trump Presidency, Simon Rosenbeg, US News & World Report, 12/1/16. In this column, Simon looks at four looming scandals that could alter the trajectory of the Trump Presidency - unprecedented levels of public corruption, collusion with Russia to alter the outcome of the election, the FBI's late intervention and Melania's immigration troubles.

A Call For Rs to Find Inner Patriot, Strengthen US Democracy, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/14/16. While in a reflective mood about the future, their nominee and party, Simon suggests two other activities Republicans should swiftly denounce and distance themselves from.

Voting Machines As Critical Democracy Infrastructure, Chris Murphy,, 9/2/16. Our friends at the Open Source Election Technology Foundation (OSET) penned this thoughtful piece to provide a plan to protect our elections systems from disruption, foreign or domestic.

Renewing Our Democracy, Restoring Consent, Simon Rosenberg,, 4/28/16. In a note to the NDN community, Simon discusses his long history in working for a better politics, and lays out a three part agenda which will guide our in the months ahead.

Keep the Faith: Three steps to modernize and reform American elections would help rebuild faith in our democracy, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 4/25/16. Simon outlines ways to remove barriers to participation, create deeper structural reforms, and modernize our election machinery.

NDN Endorses Clinton's Plan to Make Voting Easier, Simon Rosenberg,, 6/5/15. Hillary Clinton made it clear that she wasn’t going to accept the status quo and was making political reform central to her campaign.

Consent of the Governed, Simon Rosenberg and Corey Cantor,, 12/17/14. This analysis takes a look at whether, due to how few Americans are able to cast a meaningful vote in a Federal elections our electoral system, is still capable of conveying the “consent of the governed” to those in power in Washington.

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

Forward of Backward? The Descent of the GOP Into A Reactionary Mess, Simon Rosenberg,, 10/25/12.  It is almost as if the more the world moves away from the simplicity of the Reagan moment the more angry and defiant – and of course wrong – the Republican offering is becoming.

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

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

Thoughts on Renewing Our Democracy, Simon Rosenberg,, 4/6/12. Simon returned from a great discussion on the Tufts University campus convinced it is time for a big national conversation about ways we can "Renew Our Democracy."

Renewing Our Democracy, Simon Rosenberg,, 3/24/07. Simon takes a look at the Bush administration and asks has there been anything like this in American history?

Other NDN Materials

Report: Presidential Primary Debate Audiences, Simon Rosenberg and Chris Murphy,, 5/25/16.

SF Chronicle: Simon on Democrats and the Sanders Legacy, Chris Murphy,, 4/28/16.

Backgrounder: Improving the Democratic Debate Schedule, Chris Murphy,, 4/19/16.

Tufts/CIRCLE's new Millennial report, Chris Murphy,, 2/16/16.

NDN Analysis Featured in Greg Sargent's Washington Post Column, Chris Murphy,, 1/29/16.

Trump Rising, Dems Battle, Thoughts on Political Reform/Dem Bench, Simon Rosenberg,, 1/25/16.

Some Thoughts on Election Day, 2014, Simon Rosenberg,, 11/4/14.

Another Reason to Reform the Senate, Chris Bowman,, 3/12/13.

Renewing Our Democracy: Suggested Reading, Catherine Walsh,, 4/2/12.