21st Century Agenda for America

Gore and the climate change pledge

Al Gore has a strongly worded op-ed in the Times today on climate change.  It also previews the Live Earth concerts next week, and the pledge we will be asked to take:

Next Saturday, on all seven continents, the Live Earth concert will ask for the attention of humankind to begin a three-year campaign to make everyone on our planet aware of how we can solve the climate crisis in time to avoid catastrophe. Individuals must be a part of the solution. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, “If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?”

Live Earth will offer an answer to this question by asking everyone who attends or listens to the concerts to sign a personal pledge to take specific steps to combat climate change. (More details about the pledge are available at algore.com.)

Young Americans want progress

An encouraging new poll released today by the New York Times/CBS News/MTV found that younger Americans are more liberal than the general public. The Times poll closely echoes most of the main points of the report NDN's New Politics Institute released last week, entitled The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation (which Future Majority encourages readers to make "your Bible for talking about young people in politics.")

Some of the new poll's findings about young people include:

  • 28% describe themselves as liberal, while only 20% of the whole American public does
  • 44% support same-sex marriage, compared to 28% of the general public
  • 62% support government-sponsored universal healthcare coverage, compared to 47% of the public
  • They are more likely to favor a common-sense drug policy, being more inclined than the general public to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  • They are more open to immigration than the general public, with 30% saying America should always welcome new immigrants, compared to 24% of the general public.

The most striking part of the report, however, was this:

"By a 52 to 36 majority, young Americans say that Democrats, rather than Republicans, come closer to sharing their moral values, while 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans.

Asked if they were enthusiastic about any of the candidates running for president, 18 percent named Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and 17 percent named Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Those two were followed by Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, who was named by just 4 percent of the respondents."

Contrary to popular opinion, the Millennial generation is not politically cynical or apathetic: again reinforcing the findings of our NPI report, the Times found that 77% of Millennials believe their generation will have an important effect in the next presidential election, and 58% already say they are paying attention to the 2008 election (compared to 35% of 17-to-29 year olds at the same point in the last election).

Their lack of cynicism is frankly surprising, given that they have come of age in a political climate defined by unprecedented corruption and corporate influence, headed by perhaps the worst president and most hubristic vice-president in the history of our nation. But their optimism is very good news for America, because a full "70 percent said the country was on the wrong track." And to paraphrase Socrates, realizing there is a problem is half the solution.

Senate GOP embraces immigration provision opposed by DHS

While the media is suggesting that we are now seeing swirling around immigration is a debate, what we are really witnessing is the meltdown of one of the two major political parties in America today - the GOP.  

The latest example comes this morning in an article in the Washington Post that reports that the Senate GOP is now embracing a new immigration strategy explicitly opposed by their own Department of Homeland Security.  It is also opposed by the White House, some GOP Senators, the Democrats, and of course is a betrayal of the deal cobbled together by the two sides some weeks ago.  This move is so desperate, so craven, so impractical that it is literally mind-boggling.  Senator Mel Martinez, in particular, should be ashamed of himself. 

With each passing day it is hard to see what's left of the GOP here in Washington as anything but bitter enemies of progress.  They blocked common sense provisions in the Energy bill.  They are undermining their own President on immigration and continue to demonize immigrants themselves.  They've resisted all attempts to improve their catastrophic Iraq strategy.  They've resisted repeated calls to restore the integrity of Justice.   Their leading Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, has called for the expansion of Guantanamo.  The list goes on....

More soon....


Post series on Cheney: a must read

We will be talking about this new Post series on Cheney for a long time.  The 2nd installment runs today.  There is so much in here that it defies a quick am blog post, and is both informative and tragic at the same time.

Coming to a deeper understanding of globalization

As many of you know NDN has been a leader in the fight to improve and reform our broken immigration system through two year long effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  During the course of what has become an epic political battle, it has become clear to me that this issue of immigration - or more appropriately "migration" - is going to one of the central issues facing America and the world in the years ahead. 

In today's New York Times, the ever able Jason DeParle offers a sweeping opening article in what will be a series of stories about global migration.  There is much to recommend about the piece, but the one thing you shouldn't miss is the global map from the Migration Policy Institute showing annual migration rates around the world in this decade. 

The map underscores what a unique moment in history we are living in.  A series of developments - the collapse of communism, a period of relative political stability and global peace, the incredible spread of information technology, the success of Clinton era trade liberalization policies - has created an unprecedented, dynamic and truly global economy.   Goods, information, money are moving around the world with every greater speed.   Hundreds of millions have risen from poverty in the just the past decade.  Half of he world's six billion people are now connected to the global communications network through mobile phones or the internet.   We live in a time of tremendous progress, where the standard of living of people throughout the world is rising at historic levels, and where we are becoming more connected to one another than ever before. 

This progress of course is not without areas of concerns.  Large parts of Africa and the Middle East have been slow to take advantage of the new opportunities this period brings.  New growth brings greater pressure on the environment throughout the world.  Greater demand for oil has empowered petrodictators like Chavez and Putin.  And what DeParle's piece lays out is how rising standards of living, greater mobility, this communications revolution will all make it more likely that an even greater number of people will choose to migrate from their home countries in the coming years.  People are trying to move with the same speed as the rest of global capitalism.  But of course, it isn't that easy, as we are finding out with the immigration battle here in the United States. 

That's why I believe this immigration battle, and the ones certainly to follow, are so important.  This debate says so much about our ability to understand the moment we are in, how the world and the United States are changing, and come up strategies and plans to help our great nation and its people prosper in it.  The people and the nations of the world, increasingly, to borrow from Bono, are becoming "one."  There has perhaps never been a moment in human history where it has been more true that "we are all in this together."  In many ways these developments are exciting, wonderful, hopeful.  But the emergence, power and increasing velocity of globalization in the early 21st century is also challenging cultures, identity, governments and the very idea of the state itself in ways that I dont think we've done a whole lot of thinking about. 

But that's why we started our Globalization Initiative last year, and we have fought so hard to help resolve this immigration debate in a way that works for all Americans, current and future.  Our new century requires a whole lot of new thinking, and I know of no better community to help lead the way in helping America meet the new challenges of our new day than the one we've built together here at NDN. 

Book Recommendation: The End of Poverty

Last summer I came along a book that had a truly profound impact on my understanding of the Middle East, Vali Nasr's excellent book, The Shia Revival.   As readers of this blog know I have aggressively promoted it, and you can even find an interview I conducted with Vali recently on our main site here. It is a true must-read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the Middle East today.

This summer I have come across another book that strongly recommend to friends and family - The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs.  Few books I have ever read are as informed, as optimistic, as well-written, as important as this one.  Sachs lays out a powerful vision for how to eradicate extreme poverty in the world, and a pragmatic plan to get it done.  Like with Nasr, I hope we can get the Professor Sachs to address the NDN family some time in the not so distant future.

Dionne on the Democrat's opportunity, and challenge

EJ Dionne has an important look at recent polling data that suggests that while the GOP has fallen, Democrats have yet to take full advantage of the opportunity the moment presents.

This is a theme being explored in depth at the Take Back America Conference this week in Washington, DC.  A selection of our essays on this theme, something we call "the end of the conservative ascendency" can be found here.  I will be speaking at the conference later this morning on media and showing some of the more than $10 m worth of ads produced by NDN and the New Democrat Network in recent years.  Hope to see you there.

Hispanics continue to flee the GOP

In 2006, driven by a great degree by the immigration debate, Hispanics fled the Republican Party.  From 2004 to 2006 the national Hispanic vote moved close to 20 points, going from 59/40 Kerry/Bush to 70/30 D/R.  And turnout was up 33% from 2002.  This part of the American electorate has become energized, and much more anti-Republican. 

Remember that we've seen this happen before.  In California, Pete Wilson and the GOP took on Hispanics and turned a swing state into a blue and progressive one.  Hispanics responded to the GOP attacks by registering and voting in huge numbers for Democrats.  In the first election after the GOP attacks the effect was modest.  The impact came in the 2nd election, and the ones after. 

The question about the anger Hispanics across the nation now feel towards the GOP was whether or not it would sustain, and if so, what impact it might have.  For it is hard to see a viable electoral college map for the GOP that doesn't contain the heavily Hispanic swing states of AZ, CO, FL, NM and NV.  Take these 5 states away and it starts to become hard how to see the GOP wins in 2008.  A continued big swing of Hispanics in 2008 could deny this states to the GOP, and mark the way the GOP has handled the immigration issue as one of the greatest strategic blunders of modern politics. 

Well, over the weekend, we saw a story that shows this degradation of the Republican brand with Hispanics continues apace.  Peter Wallsten of the LATimes published a remarkable piece showing that those newly eligible citizens registering to vote in South Florida, a place where most Hispanics are Republican, are becoming Democrats:

MIAMI BEACH — As a Cuban who fled Fidel Castro's communist rule for a new life in the U.S., Julio Izquierdo would seem a natural Republican voter — a sure bet to adopt the same political lineage that has long guided most of his countrymen who resettled in South Florida.

But moments after taking his oath this week to become a U.S. citizen and registering to vote, the grocery store employee said he felt no such allegiances.

"I don't know whether Bush is a Democrat or a Republican, but whatever he is, I'm voting the other way," Izquierdo, 20, said Thursday as he waited for a taxi after a mass naturalization ceremony at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Izquierdo said he did not like President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and was miffed at politicians, most of them Republican, who seem to dislike immigrants.

That sentiment, expressed by several of the 6,000 new citizens who took their oaths Thursday in group ceremonies that take place regularly in immigrant-heavy cities nationwide, underscored the troubled environment facing the GOP in the buildup to next year's presidential election.

Surveys show that among Latino voters — a bloc Bush had hoped to woo into the Republican camp — negative views about the party are growing amid a bitter debate over immigration policy.

Republicans in Congress have led the fight against a controversial Senate bill that would provide a pathway for millions of illegal immigrants to eventually become citizens. All but one of the GOP's leading White House hopefuls oppose the measure.

Many Latino leaders, including Republicans, have said the tone of some critics in attacking the bill has been culturally insensitive. They say that has alienated some Latinos from the GOP....

Read on my friends.  This is one of the most important stories in politics today.

Coming to terms with today's Middle East, continued

Of all the emerging challenges we face in the new post-Iraq Middle East, there is perhaps no more important one than what to do in and with Iraq itself.  In a Sunday Outlook piece, Ray Takeyh and Steven Simon offer thoughts on what to do with the reality of Iraq today, not the fantasy place invoked from time to time by members of the Administration and their allies.  It begins:

Last week's bloodshed in Iraq and the bombing of what remained of the historic Shiite shrine in Samarra and of two Sunni mosques in Basra were more reminders of a terrible truth: The war in Iraq is lost. The only question that remains -- for our gallant troops and our blinkered policymakers -- is how to manage the inevitable. What the United States needs now is a guide to how to lose -- how to start thinking about minimizing the damage done to American interests, saving lives and ultimately wresting some good from this fiasco.

No longer can we avoid this bitter conclusion. Iraq's winner-take-all politics are increasingly vicious; there will be no open, pluralistic Iraqi state to take over from the United States. Iraq has no credible central government that U.S. forces can assist and no national army for them to fight alongside. U.S. troops can't beat the insurgency on their own; our forces are too few and too isolated to compete with the insurgents for the public's support. Meanwhile, the country's militias have become a law unto themselves, and ethnic cleansing gallops forward.

To read the whole piece, click here.  For more on this series, click on the Middle East tag above.

Coming to terms with today's Middle East, continued

Yes, back to our favorite policy theme this morning.  Robin Wright of the Post takes a sweeping look through the results of our foreign policy in the Middle East.   It isn't pretty:

The Middle East is in flames. Over the past week, war erupted among the Palestinians and their government collapsed. A Shiite shrine in Iraq was bombed -- again -- as the new U.S. military strategy showed no sign of diminishing violence. Lebanon battled a new al-Qaeda faction in the north as a leading politician was assassinated in Beirut. And Egyptian elections were marred by irregularities, including police obstructing voters, in a serious setback to democracy efforts.

U.S. policy in the region isn't faring much better, say Middle East and U.S. analysts.

"It's close to a nightmare for the administration," Ellen Laipson, president of the Henry L. Stimson Center and former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said in an interview from Dubai. "They can't catch their breath. . . . It makes Condi Rice's last year as secretary of state very daunting. What are the odds she can get virtually anything back on track?"

Each flash point has its own dynamics, but a common denominator is that leaders in each country -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- are each pivotal U.S. allies.

"The people we rely on the most to help are under siege, just as we are," said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution fellow and former National Security Council staffer. "Three of the four leaders may either not make it [politically] through the end of the summer or find themselves irrelevant by then."

The broad danger is a breakdown of the traditional states and conflicts that have defined Middle East politics since the 1970s, said Paul Salem of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Beirut office. An increasing number of places -- Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories -- now have rival claimants to power, backed by their own militaries.

Also, once divided by the Arab-Israeli conflict, the region is now the battleground for three other rivalries: the United States and its allies pitted against an Iran-Syria alliance in a proxy war regionwide, secular governments confronted by rising al-Qaeda extremism, and autocratic governments reverting to draconian tactics to quash grass-roots movements vying for democratic change.

Extremists are scoring the most points. "Gaza is the latest evidence that most of the trends are pointed in the wrong direction. It's yet another gain for radical forces. It's another gain for Iran. It's another setback for the U.S., Israel and the Sunni regimes," said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and State Department policy planning chief during President Bush's first term. "The United States has not shown that moderation pays or will accomplish more than violence."

A second danger is that conflicts now overlap. "You can't look at Lebanon or Iraq or the Palestinians or Syria or Iran and try to deal with them separately anymore. You could have 10 years ago. Now they are politically and structurally linked," said Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut.

Khouri said the United States deserves a good share of the blame for a confluence of disasters spawning pessimism and anger across the region..

Syndicate content