New Progressive Politics

Tom Schaller on The Colbert Report

Univeristy of Maryland Professor of Political Science, recent author of Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South and good friend of NDN Tom Schaller was on The Colbert Report.  Watch him on Colbert and at NDN's post-election event below.

Kos on Webb

Our friend Markos Moulitsas has a must read post on the rise of Senator Jim Webb.

The coming acceleration of mobile media into politics

I had a conversation with a political person the other day in which she doubted whether mobile media would really have an effect on politics for a long while. She said texting just didn’t seem to have the heft to make a dent on the richer media that comes at people from other sectors, including many of the traditional ones. That’s true, for now, but it does not take into account the forward trajectory of this rapidly moving space. Consider two pieces of recent evidence:

The New York Times on Saturday has a very interesting piece on Madison Avenue-level ads already starting to appear on cell phones. With the broadband that’s coming to the phone infrastructure, some very sophisticated ads are able to move through it. Once the private sector blazes that trail, political ads won’t be far behind them. Definitely in 08.

The other piece of evidence to consider is the iPhone. I know there was a lot of buzz around this announcement a couple weeks ago, but only last night did I get to watch the web video of Apple CEO Steve Job’s keynote performance that introduced the phone and explained its many features (click on the "iPhone Introduction," not Keynote). It’s worth just watching Jobs do his demo – he’s a master that political people could study just for tips on creating suspense. But the more important point is that he demoed this phone in great detail, live, on the actual cell phone grid, and the phone’s performance was spectacular. I was really astounded at how good it was, and I have been watching this space for a while.

You can’t think of the mobile phone as a land-line-like voice device that allows you to walk around in the world. That has been the paradigm up until now. You really have to think of these as very small yet powerful computers, with almost all the capabilities of current desktops and laptops, now in your hands. That is the iPhone. It’s not a phone, but a Apple computer that fits in your hand. Oh, and it is, indeed, a phone, a super smart one at that.

So everything you see on YouTube and all the craziness of the web, and the myriad ways that is impacting politics, is also coming to phones. Like, within the year. Certainly in the 08 political cycle. The iPhone comes out in June, and like with the iPod, all the competition will follow.

That’s why this space is one that the New Politics Institute will be deeply focused on in the months ahead.

Peter Leyden

The Tipping Point for Web Video

“The Tipping Point” is the name of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book that studies when social phenomena move from outsider status to mass happenings. Though Gladwell draws on all kinds of science and research, the bottom line is that these flips are unpredictable. They just kind of happen, leaving many experts scratching their heads, trying to explain why.

We appear to have crossed a tipping point in the use of web video in politics, and it happened this past week. A lot of  groundwork had been laid before now, but all the pieces seemed to come together in the space of a few days. Some of that groundwork came from pioneers in the medium who labored for a long time in obscurity. And some came from the presidential campaigns that readied themselves for their recent tech kickoffs. For whatever reasons, it’s coming together now.

The icing on the cake is the validation from the mainstream media. Many pieces and TV news segments are coming out of this, but the Washington Post did a particularly good job in giving an overview and analysis. Here’s one excerpt:   

If last year was the year of the rogue videographers, the already-underway 2008 presidential campaign is likely to be remembered as the point where Web video became central to the communications strategy of every serious presidential candidate.

Playing defense is only one use of Web video. Equally important, the candidates and their staffs see Web-based video as an inexpensive and potentially significant tool for telling their campaign story without the filters of the traditional media.

Call it the YouTube effect, and it is only growing.


Peter Leyden

Richardson gets in, also through an internet video

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson becomes the third Democratic candidate this week to announce over the internet

By contrast the one Republican to get in this week, Senator Sam Brownback, announced at a traditional event in his home state, an approach that looks increasingly very 20th century. 

The Post had an interesting piece this am looking at the Hillary video.  Walter Shapiro at Salon also as an early, thoughtful take on what is shaping up to be a very different type of Presidential campaign, one that is now looking very much like the first Presidential campaign of the 21st century.

You can also find on Richardson's site a Spanish-language version of his announcement.

So much for the TV networks, the Presidentials are announcing online

First Obama, now Hilary. They both launched their presidential campaigns via online videos.

Obama, it much be noted, pushed the envelope the farthest, and first – he launched his video announcement right into the fray of YouTube. But Hilary has now come out with her version on her website – and she’s going to push the edge further this Monday with live video chats.

People thought the 2006 elections were going to be known as the YouTube elections. You ain’t seen nothing yet. The 2008 cycle has just begun and the innovation is just starting.

Hang on for this ride. And keep up with our ongoing series: “Re-imagining Video.”

Peter Leyden

The Attorney General testifies

The Attorney General testified yesterday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Glenn Greenwald was there, and he is, as always, worth reading. 

Conservatism in retreat

You often hear from Republicans these days something along the lines that they may been voted out of office, but their values, their principles, their views are still ascendant, that this is in effect still a “center-right” nation.  After watching the events of recent weeks I think we have to now classify that argument as “spin,” as it hard to describe their values as anything other than in a swift and profound retreat.   2007 is becoming the year of the repudiation of the Bush era, and the type of politics and ideology he espoused.   

The 100 Hours.  We just saw substantial numbers of Republicans voting for core Democratic priorities.  Minimum wage, Stem-cell funding, the 9/11 Commission Recommendations, ethics and lobbying reform, rescinding tax breaks for the oil industry and using the money to help speed the development of alternative energy, prescription drug negotiating authority for CMS.  All blocked these last few years by the Republican leadership, all passed now with substantial Republican support.  Even Republicans are now abandoning the agenda of the Bush age.

The President’s new plan for the Middle East.  Republican criticism of the President has been fierce.  Story after story tells of how shocked the Administration has been with the opposition of Republicans.  A vote on the President’s plan will be taken next week, the day after the State of the Union.  Expect substantial Republican defections.  Early predictions expect at least 10 GOP Senators going with the Democrats.  Polls show overwhelming opposition to the plan.  Remarkably, the resolution to be voted on next week is a bi-partisan one, with Senator Chuck Hagel joining Senators Biden and Levin as chief co-sponsor.  Republican Congressman are already working to block the President from attacking Iran.

FISA.  While some argue that the “changes” made by the Administration on the oversight of their wiretapping program to be more cosmetic than substantive, there is no question that the Administration is now in retreat on what was an ideological holy grail for them these last few years.

The State of the Union pre-leaks from the White House.  Traditionally the White House spends weeks leaking major elements of their State of the Union, road testing and building support for their program.  Where are the leaks this year? There aren’t any.  Why, because what exactly can the President say about this agenda, the legacy of his years in office, working with Democrats?  This is certainly shaping up to one of the most interesting State of the Unions in years.

The New House Senate Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.  Finally, Speaker Pelosi yesterday announced the creation of a new select committee, one that bring Members together from different Committees, take develop a long-term strategy for combating global warming and climate change.  What a strong and bold move, what a thoughtful and powerful way of signaling that a new day has arrived, and that the Bush era, and the era of what we call the era of conservative ascendancy, has come to an end.

The Bush years, and its failed government, have done grave damage to conservatism.  It is no longer ascendant in America, nor is it a coherent and effective governing approach.  It has been deeply discredited. And with early Presidential polls showing substantial leads for Democrats in the Presidential race, it is clear we are a center-right nation no more, and that conservatism, the political philosophy that has done so much to drive America politics over this past generation, is in a remarkable and profound retreat. 

Latest Pew study shows 60 million Americans using the Internet for politics

The latest report of the Pew Internet and American Life Project came out and shows the inexorable shift of voters towards using the web to engage politics. The news was in most newspapers today and the highlights can be seen bouncing around the web.  The San Francisco Chronicle’s article highlighted the New Politics Institute’s take at the top of the piece and the bottom. I include the top:

Sen. Barack Obama updated the world on his presidential aspirations this week by posting a video to his new Web site, where the online response to the Illinois Democrat has been "overwhelming," aides said Wednesday.

The move was strategic, as well as a means to reach Web-savvy supporters. Not only could campaign handlers tightly control Obama's image better in the three-minute video, they also could pad their online address book of supporters with those who visited the site.

It all made for a fine illustration of how new media tools are reshaping politics by disseminating information and involving citizens in campaigns quickly and efficiently.

 "If he had called a press conference in Washington to say he was announcing an exploratory committee, he might have been seen for a few seconds on the evening news," said Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco think tank at the forefront of incorporating new media into politics.

 By releasing it online, Leyden said, viewers could pass the video around, "and people could have it come at them from all different directions. Plus, the mainstream media reported on it.

 "You're going to see a lot more of this in 2008," Leyden said. "Candidates aren't going to be buying as much advertising time on broadcast television. "

For more on the story, including how we wrap up the analysis, see the actual story itself. Or if you want all the data, go to the Pew website.

Peter Leyden

Democrats Move on Climate Change

After years of conservative obfuscation and inaction, there are finally signs of progress on climate change.  And it can't come too soon, in a week when the "Doomsday Clock" has been moved two minutes closer to midnight, in part because of the catastrophic threat of climate change. 

Bob Dylan once sang "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."  And you know the winds are changing in Washington when Presidential candidates are sponsoring climate change bills, electrical utility CEOs are appearing at Democratic press conferences on carbon caps, leaders in the scientific and religious communities are committing to "fight the causes of climate change and the public confusion on the subject," and ABC News uses a "breaking news" banner to announce:

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