Hillary Clinton

Simon's New Weekly Column in US News and World Report

Simon is writing a weekly guest column for US News & World Report. You can find previous versions here and below. (Updated Friday 10/6/17)

US News & World Report Columns

Make ACA Sign-Ups an Annual Civic Ritual, US News & World Report, 10/6/17. Simon makes the case that our nation's elected officials and other responsible community leaders should make signing people up for health insurance an annual event, helping blunt Trump's malevolent cuts in marketing the ACA. 

Stand Firm: Democrats should ask for 3 major things in their coming negotiations with Trump, 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, 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.

The Age of Innocence: Trump's Fantasy World Crashes Hard Into The Real One, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World report, 4/7/17. Simon argues that Trump's Syria contortions are an example of his fantasy world crashing hard into the real one.

5 Ways Trump Could Stop Obama's Expansion, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/23/17. Simon warns that Trump’s economic policies are more likely than not to derail the long Obama expansion.

Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/9/17. The return of Wikileaks this week is a reminder that the Russian campaign against the US is ongoing, not something that happened last summer.  Investigations looking into Russia must take this into account. 

The 'Shackles' Are Off, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 3/3/17. Simon considers the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce, US News & World report, 2/21/17. Simon examines how the blowback to Trump's immigration plan could be significant and cause lasting damage to his Presidency.

Has Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?, US News & World Report, 2/7/17. In his recent column, Simon wonders if Trump undestands how much his own actions are undermining the fight against IS.

Drawing the Line with Trump, US News & 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.

The End of Pax Americana?, US News & World Report, 1/26/17. In his column, Simon argues that Trump is signaling a retreat to the very kind of politics – nationalism, protectionism, racism and xenophobia – that brought about actual carnage in much of the world in the 1930s and 1940s.

Chin Up, Democrats, US News & World Report, 1/20/17. In his column, Simon argues that Democrats should have pride in their historic accomplishments and optimism about the future of their politics.

An Independent Audit of Trump's Companies Is Now Necessary, US News & 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.

The Pernicious Politics of Oil - On Trump's embrace of petro-politics, US News & World Report, 12/16/16. In his column, Simon does a deep dive on why Trump 's embrace of plutocratic petro-politics should be worrisome to liberals everywhere.

Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star, US News & World Report, 12/9/16. In his column, Simon offers some thoughts on the path forward.

Trouble Ahead - 4 Scandals That Could Alter the Trump Presidency, 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.

The West Is On The Ballot, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 11/4/16. In the column Simon argues that Trump isn't running just against Clinton, he's also running against what America has become and the world it has built.

The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/27/16. Demographic trends show the state is on the precipice of going from red to blue.

Why Democrats Dominate, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/20/16. Perhaps the most important political story of the past generation is transformation of Democratic Party into a successful governing party with popular leaders well regarded by the American people.

Calling all Patriots, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/13/16. 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.

How America Prospers in a Global Age, Simon Rosenberg, US News & World Report, 10/6/16. In this op-ed Simon make the case that America has prospered in this new age of globalization, but only with the right policies.

A New Generation Of Democrats Will Have To Rise

As background, NDN produced a post-election memo in 2014, “A Wake Up Call For Democrats” which covers some of the ground in the memo below. The original version of this memo was published on the Wednesday after the election, and has been updated.  You can also find our thoughts in a series of post-election articles in Time, TNR, the Washington Post and others sources, and in this new US News op-ed, "Rediscovering the Democrats' North Star."

Clinton wins more votes, Dems gain in Senate and House – Yes, a bit spinny given the outcome, but true. Trump has won the Presidency, getting fewer votes than Clinton and winning his big 4 states - FL, MI, PA, WI - by less than 1.5%.  What is remarkable is that Democrats have now won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, one of the best runs for a political party in US history and yet have very little to show for it.  In the exits last night Democrats had meaningful advantages in Party ID and favorability, and Barack Obama had a 53/45 approval rating. A plurality of voters even said they were better off than they were four years ago.

The GOP, a party that has won more votes in a national election only once since 1988, amazingly has more power today in Washington than any time since 1928.  That our system could produce this outcome is one of the things that makes America exceptional.

The exits confirm that last night was not a repudiation of the Democratic Party’s agenda, or a significant affirmation of the direction Trump wants to take the country:

-48% said Obamacare was just right or didn’t go far enough, 47% said too far
-70% said illegal immigrants should stay, 25% said deport
-41% approve of building the wall, 54% say no
-48% said criminal justice system treats blacks unfairly, 43% fairly
-31% say they are better off today, 27% worse off, 49% same

Even on the issue of global trade, 42% said trade takes away jobs, 38% said creates jobs.

So what this means in practical terms is that it is hard for Trump and the Republicans to claim a clear mandate. They have only won one more votes in a national election once since 1988, and will have to work hard in the coming months to build majority support for their agenda.

Dems Need A Big Discussion About Turnout, Our Coalition – Democrats need to have a robust debate about why we’ve had such a hard time replicating Obama’s success with the majority coalition he built in 2010, 2014 and again in 2016. No doubt that the Trump campaign impressively outperformed expectations in most national polls. But an early and quick read on the data suggests that once again the Democrats did not meet their targets with their own voters – and in this race resources were not an issue. More on this issue in future memos.

Younger Americans Are Much More Democratic – Using the national exit polls, voters under 45 went for Clinton 53% to 39%, and those 45 and over went for Trump 52% to 44%. 56% of the electorate was 45 and over, 44% under 45. Maximizing the under 45 vote – people who came of age after Reagan’s Presidency – remains one of the highest demographic priorities for Democrats. Not sure what it means yet, but the 4 states that cost Clinton the election last night – FL, MI, PA, WI – have very low %s of Millennials compared to other states.

For more on Millennials and the youth vote, see our new report on Millennials, this excellent post-election report from Tufts/Tisch/CIRCLE, and Democracy Corp's election night survey showing the Millennial share of the electorate grew from 19% in 2012 to a remarkable 29% in 2016. 

Huge Mistakes By Clinton Campaign - It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Clinton campaign both badly misread the election in the final months, and made terrible decisions about the allocation of its campaign resources and candidate time.  This new article by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post captures the failures in Michigan and Wisconsin.  But it goes deeper than just those two states. Discussions have to be had about huge overinvestments in IA, NC and OH, and whether AZ should have been a prime target general election target from June on.  As of 11/20, Clinton's margin in AZ is only 3.6%, better than the Democratic performance in IA, NC and OH (see our new memo on AZ, and the strong showing for Dems in CA and TX too).  Politico just published a new report on how the Clinton campaign blew Michigan - and it is tough reading.  And then there is the question of Trump's far more aggressive general election campaign schedule, something that no doubt made a difference in a very close race. 

Given the financial advantages and unified party behind the campaign, the team running Clintonworld will have to explain to the rest of us about what appears to be fatal misjudgements in the general election. 

Thanks Comey! – According to the exits, of the 26% of people who made up their minds in the last month, Trump won them 49%-39% (yes during the period of the debates, the Access Hollywood video). Of the 73% who made up their minds before the last month, Clinton won 51%-46%. Very hard to not conclude from this data that the Comey intervention in the election was consequential.

Not sure all of us have yet processed the unprecedented intervention of a foreign government and the FBI in this election. With Rs in charge of Congress and the White House, will be hard to have this conversation next year but it is a conversation that needs having. 

Political Reform – Given the obvious concerns about a “rigged” system that no longer works for everyday people, why Hillary Clinton never developed a serious conversation around reforming our politics remains one of the great mysteries of the 2016 election. See my piece from December, 2012 about why political reform had to become central to the politics of the center-left in the years ahead. 

A New Generation of Democrats Will Have to Lead Now – The Obama Presidency and the 24 years of leadership provided by Bill and Hillary Clinton will now yield to a new era for the Democratic Party. Surveying the landscape – Schumer, Kaine, Booker, Sanders, Warren, Becerra, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom, Joe Kennedy, the Castros, Tulsi Gabbard, etc – Democrats have a very promising set of leaders capable of carrying the Party forward.

Democrats will also have to become far more purposeful about preparing for the generational handoff from Boomer generation politicians to younger ones. The Democratic Party is a young, diverse and growing party. Its future success will depend on advancing leaders who can connect with and excite these voters. 

Big questions now about what the Obamas do, and the role they play in what comes next.

Folks Should Be Careful About Calling This A Change Election – While there is clear evidence “change” was something people sought, the country is neither as angry or disquieted as some have been suggesting. Let’s go through some data here. Incomes have been going up for four years. 2015 saw the largest income gains for American workers in the recorded economic history of the United States. The unemployment rate is under 5%. Violent crime, the killings of Americans by terrorists and the killing of police are all at rates far lower than during the Bush Administration. The uninsured rate is at historic lows. Heath inflation, the biggest driver of the deficit, has been lower this decade than in a generation. Energy prices are low, America has become a net energy exporter, and the growth of renewables is exploding. The net flow of unauthorized immigrants into the US has gone from 400,000 a year under Bush to zero today, while trade with Mexico has more than doubled.

And public opinion confirms this. In a recent Gallup poll 62% of Americans said things are getting better. 53% of Americans report that things are good in a recent CNN poll. President Obama’s approval rating is in the mid to high 50s, the highest mark of his second term and higher than President Reagan at the end of his Presidency. A recent Bloomberg poll found only 28% of Americans saying that since Obama’s election they are worse off, with 21% saying things are the same and 49% better. While the exits last night found fewer people saying better off, the number saying worse off was about the same – 27%.  And in the exits, 37% said the next generation will be better off, 34% said worse.  This simply isn't rebellion level numbers folks. 

The exits also asked a direct question – which candidate quality mattered most? 39% said “can bring change,” and they went 83% to 14% for Trump. This is a plurality, not a majority. 

This is not to say that we don’t have challenges, or that that there isn’t disquiet in the American electorate. But it is not a majority sentiment of the public at large, and was not even close to being a majority sentiment of those who voted last night. But it is a majority sentiment of Republican voters as this party break out of recent CNN data suggests:

Source: CNN/ORC poll data from September 1-4, 2016. According to this CNN/ORC poll, 53 percent of Americans believe economic conditions in the US are good. The question asked in the survey was: “How would you rate the economic conditions in the country today -- as very good, somewhat good, somewhat poor, or very poor?” See our recent report, “America Is Better Off And Safer Today” for citations for the data in this section.

My 2016 Predictions

Each year The Hill newspaper invites some of us to make our predictions.  Here is what I just sent to them this morning: 

Presidential - Clinton wins 50-45, 334-204 in the Electoral College.  Our next President wins all the battleground states except GA, IA and OH. 

Senate - Democrats win the Senate, 50-50. 

House - Democrats pick up 15 seats in the House.

Short Analysis - W/2016 win, Dems will have won more votes in 6 of past 7 Presidential elections, among strongest showings by US political party in history.  Strength, success, achievement of modern Democratic Party underappreciated.  Problems with emerging electorate, esp. Hispanics and Millennials, so significant now they represent possible existential threat to GOP.  Watch Texas Tuesday night – higher % of Millennials & Hispanics than CA.  With Clinton’s convincing win and gridlock fatigue, will be hard for GOP to repeated Obama era level of obstruction.   Big conversation needed about Russian intervention in election, ways to prevent in future. 

Am honored to be the only two time winner of the Hill contest.  With HRC's strong showing, could be a threepeat!

Column: "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas"

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourth column, "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will every Thursday or Friday through the end of the year.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Why Democrats Dominate," in which Simon considers what perhaps may be the most important political story of the past generation: the transformation of Democratic Party into a successful governing party with popular leaders well regarded by the American people. 

An Excerpt from "The GOP Should Be Worried About Texas"

Responding to a series of recent polls showing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton within striking distance in Texas, Real Clear Politics has moved it from a "lean red" to "toss up" state. In this memorable political year, the apparent move of Texas from red to purple state has to be considered one of the more significant and unexpected developments, particularly since Clinton and the Democratic National Committee have made no effort to put the state in play.

It is hard to overstate the importance of Texas to the national Republican Party. It is the only big state left in the country that Republicans regularly win at the presidential level. It produced the only two Republican presidents since Reagan, and has produced many more important national Republicans, such as Tom DeLay, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and John Cornyn. It exports hundreds of millions of dollars to GOP organizations and candidates across the country. And perhaps most importantly, there are more Republicans in Congress from Texas than any other state, and many of them are in positions of leadership. Losing Texas, or even having it become competitive, would be a significant blow to the national GOP.

They better get ready.

Key to President George W. Bush's narrow victories was his success in heavily Hispanic states. Over the course of two elections he won Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Texas twice, and New Mexico once. As the Hispanic population has surged throughout the country, and become about two to one Democratic along the way, these states – with the exception of Texas – have drifted away from the GOP.

Today, Clinton leads in the five states other than Texas, and the Trump campaign isn't even competing in Colorado or New Mexico. And we all know the story of California, the first state to go through this demographic transformation. The state which helped birth the modern conservative movement and gave us the two Republican presidents prior to the Bushes – Reagan and Nixon – is on the verge of seeing its Republican Party go out of business.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Review: Rebecca Traister's new book Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women

The 2008 election will be noted in American history as much for its destination as its journey.  The composition of the candidates and supporting characters prompted long overdue conversations about gender, race, and what it means to be an American.  In her new book, Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women, writer Rebecca Traister revisits these conversations and begins a new conversation by arguing that the 2008 elections were ultimately good for women.

Good for women?  That might be difficult for any one who watched the gender dynamics of the 2008 Election to believe.  What about the incessant pantsuit talk?  The Mom-in-Chief backlash? Are we even going to talk about Palin's faux feminism? Traister manages to comprehensively chronicle these events, thoroughly analyze what she calls "campaigning while female," and argue that the path to progress requires us to move forward, despite setbacks.

Traister separates herself from other writers in this arena by offering smart and pointed criticism of unlikely characters from members of the center-Left media to feminist leaders.  Traister takes on Chris Matthew's "premature jubilation" in response to Clinton's Iowa primary defeat and the subsequent crescendo of male-bashing that ensued. "The eagerness to trash Clinton had been laid bare," Traister writes, "and it reeked of a particular kind of relief: relief from the guys who had thought they were going to have to hold their noses and get pushed around by some dame."  In addition, Traister recounts various exchanges between Gloria Steinem and younger feminists such as Shelby Knox that capture the generational tensions around Clinton's candidacy.    

Unlike Clinton's failed-Iowa strategy - where her campaign took women voters for granted -  Traister courts her target audience by presenting herself as both a keen cultural observer and the reader's witty best friend. Traister augments her analysis by skillfully weaving in the tale her own emotional rollercoaster:  an early Edwards supporter who found Michelle Obama too cool to be objective about, and who in the face of male-dominated media's scourge of Hillary Clinton found herself rooting (though not voting) for the former-first lady.  "I didn't want Hillary to win the Democratic nomination," Traister writes, "I didn't want John Edwards out of the race.  I didn't want Barack Obama to suffer a hope-squelching loss.  But I knew with primal surety that if I had been a New Hampshire resident on January 8, I would have pulled a lever for the former first lady with a song in my heart and a bird flipped at Chris Matthews, Roy Sekoff, Keith Olbermann and every other guy who'd gotten his rocks off by imagining Hillary's humiliation."  If I have one constructive criticism of the book, it is that I only wish there had been even more of Traister in it. 

After reading the book, I had a few questions for the author.  I hope you find Rebecca's answers as illuminating as I did. 

AM: It seems that neither Clinton nor Palin found a way to be simultaneously authentic and likable to a broad swath of women, much less Americans. You write about Clinton, "[T]he success of her ego-stroking strategy provided a disheartening lesson about how easily a powerful woman can change the mind of men if only she's willing to conform to power models that reassure rather than threaten them." Of Palin you write, she "gained her power by doing everything modern women have believed they did not have to do: presenting herself as maternal and sexual, sucking up to men, evincing an awshucks lack of native ambition. She met with such adulation because her posture reinforced antiquated gender norms."  Is the lesson to choose authenticity over cultivation?  Is there any way to marry their models?  And if both models requiring conceding power to men, what does that say about our political structure?

I actually do believe that there were moments at which Clinton managed to present her authentic self, and break free of the set-ups for how women are expected to act (in order to be taken seriously politically, to be "likable enough," etc). Several people in the book noted that, for example, in New Hampshire, when her loss was all but assured by press and polling, Hillary began to behave like herself more than ever before (and more than she would for some time after). She kind of told Chris Matthews where to get off, cracked jokes about sexism to the Iron My Shirt guys. Everyone only thinks about the moment when she teared up, but in fact her days campaigning in New Hampshire were Hillary at her loosest and most direct. She got a lot of that energy back toward the end of her campaign, when she was just plowing forward, when everyone was telling her to drop out. Those were the moments -- when, perhaps, it seemed she had nothing to lose -- that Clinton let go a little bit and really seemed to bring her unadulterated self to the trail. I do hope that there is a lesson there, since not coincidentally, those were the periods during which she was met with cheers and approval.

I would hope that looking back at that pattern would allow women candidates to have some more confidence in their own abilities to be themselves more of the time. But the other inescapable fact -- and one that I think of all the time when people talk about Palin's persona as if it's extra-fake or something -- is that the public persona constructed by most politicians, male or female, is just that -- a construction. We demand that our politicians perform for us, put on a show -- whether that show is of familial devotion or cross-partisan cooperation or just folksiness. The show that women put on, and that you quote me describing above, is of course colored by and shaped by gender expectation, which makes our analysis of it a bit more acute, perhaps? Or novel.

AM: You don't pardon your own behavior. "None of us were above thinking about how Clinton sounded or looked or what she wore," you write.  "We were like babies first encountering a new object: a potential president who had breasts and hips and a high voice, who was once pregnant and whose female skin changed as it aged.  It was only natural that we were sometimes going to get tripped up and befuddled in how we talked about her."  So where does that leave modern media?  Where did you draw your own line in terms of what you were willing to comment on and what you were not?"

RT: Alas, there's no firm answer to that question. I drew my own lines by gut. Stuff that dismayed many -- reactions to the lines in Clinton's face, her pantsuits -- dismayed me as well, but also fascinated and cheered me because I was so anxious to /have the conversation/ that acknowledged that in Clinton we were seeing a potential president who was different from all those who had preceded her. I was tired of pretending that there was nothing different about her, because that was dishonest. But of course the desire to acknowledge her difference is very different from saying "Hey, let's all pile on her outfit!" And people who objected to the attention to her clothes or hair or voice (and I was among them too!) were very right to raise their objections. They key is to be able to say -- let's talk about what's messed up about this, or where the double standards are, or why this bothers us, or when it might be appropriate to notice a candidate's physical or sartorial attributes and when it's not...It's all an evolving discussion of how we talk about public women.

AM:  You sketch out the limitations of the media including the crimes of the Leftist blogosphere and traditional media alike.  I particularly enjoyed Maddow's pointing out how tired and lazy cable news can be. How do we change those dynamics?

RT: It's about expanding the perspective of the mainstream media to include people of more colors, genders, ages, and ideologies. It's about having a commentariat that reflects the electorate.

AM: Amen.

Saturday Retina Tickler

To please your eyes and stimulate your brain cells, I offer you (courtesy of Wayan) a word cloud derived from Secretary Clinton's speech on internet freedom:

Internet Freedom Word Cloud

Happy Saturday!

China's Censorship and Information Freedom

The Chinese government has taken some umbrage at Secretary Clinton's speech on internet freedom last week. The Secretary, to be sure, called China out for censoring the internet, but she couched that criticism in pretty cozy language:

The internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century. Now, the United States and China have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship.

Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, was less friendly in his response:

The US attacks China's internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-US relations.

China's internet is open. China is a country with the most vibrant internet development. By the end of last year, China had 384 million internet users, 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs. China's Constitution guarantees people's freedom of speech. It is China's consistent policy to promote the development of internet. China has its own national conditions and cultural traditions. It supervises internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international paractice...

We urge the US to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of internet.

Once we're past the PRC's spurious claims about how free their internet is, we can see this in the context of a much bigger picture. Much like our ongoing spats over Tibet, Taiwan and human rights, the Chinese see internet policy as a purely domestic matter, and take criticism of their policy as an affront to their sovereignty. Given our persistent failure to affect China's behavior on any other sovereignty issues, we're likely to continue receving nothing but hostility when we bring up internet freedom.

But China's trucluence shouldn't be taken as a reason to shut up about internet freedom and censorship. As the Secretary made clear in her speech, freedom of information is at the heart of both our economic prosperity and our national security. Deeper than that, freedom of information is-- in itself-- a core value of American society.

The progress of freedom around the world has been swamped because developing countries see China as a living example that economic success can be achieved without relaxing the grip of authoritarian rule. For the first time in decades, perhaps centuries, freedom is in retreat around the world. Now more than ever, America must stand as a beacon of liberalism and an exemplar of the power of openness.

We may not get the needle to move on censorship in China, but we must be vocal in support of information freedom-- an unambiguous good-- and in our criticism of those who stifle liberty anywhere on the globe.

Clinton Stands Up for Internet Freedom

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major address this morning on Internet Freedom.  She riffed on FDR's "Four Freedoms," laid down the gauntlet with states that curtail internet freedom, and wrapped it up with this analogy about a Hatian girl who was saved by a text message.  It gave me goosebumps:

So let me close by asking you to remember the little girl who was pulled from the rubble on Monday in Port-au-Prince. She’s alive, she was reunited with her family, she will have the chance to grow up because these networks took a voice that was buried and spread it to the world. No nation, no group, no individual should stay buried in the rubble of oppression. We cannot stand by while people are separated from the human family by walls of censorship. And we cannot be silent about these issues simply because we cannot hear the cries.

Clinton NewseumAs a reader of this blog, I'll have to insist that you read the whole thing, or watch the video here. I'll give out prizes to anybody who does both.

Really, this was an important speech. More than anything we've heard previously, this begins to lay out some of the ideas that will underpin the "Obama Doctrine." Secretary Clinton took a strong, unambiguous position for the freedom of information.  Even if she's not particularly savvy with the technology itself (she joked about this), Secretary Clinton understands its power, and she spoke as someone who has imagined a truly networked world-- in all its potential and all its risks. 

Anyhow, I liked the speech, and NDN liked the speech, as it was very much in line with some of our most foundational arguments. Here are some other people who have used their access to the global network to share their feelings about the speech:

- Ethan Zuckerman was encouraged "to hear Secretary Clinton sounding like a dyed in the wool cyberutopian."

- Jose Antonio Vargas applauds Clinton's adoption of the idea that access to the internet, in repressed states, can be equivalent to freedom.

- The Guardian offered a good preview of the speech yesterday, illustrating some of the intellectual roots of the ideas it contained.  They also managed to squeeze in a quote from yours truly, vastly upping the quality of the piece in the eyes of my mother.

- Senator John Kerry echoes many of Clinton's sentiments and ideas.

- Evgeny Morozov, who doesn't like anything, didn't like the speech.  Some valid criticism, some less so.

- The AP read the speech as an assault on China and other censorious countries. Strange reading, I'd say.

Weekly Update on Immigration: Immigrants and the Census, Drug War, and Labor

I. The Role of Immigrants and the Census - Yesterday on Al Punto, Raul Cisneros (Census spokesman) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) responded to key questions on this topic. Jorge Ramos reports that each person counted represents $2900 in funding for their community. Ramos also tackles the important question of how to avoid the politization of the Census and discrimination among respondents.

- Ramos asked, "why does the Census matter?" Sen. Menendez appropriately noted that the Census count largely determines the amount of resources allocated to a community and a state for important programs such as maintenance of resources, education, public programs, infrastructure, etc. The data is also used by corporations when analyzing potential private sector investments, and it is the count that determines representation in Congress through the apportionment process.

- "Are we starting too early?" asked Ramos. A very important question, as many Hispanics and immigrants might not understand the urgency of informing their community about the Census and the importance of participating. Cisneros noted, "No. We've already been working to reach out to the community and inform them of the Census," as part of the Department's duty. Census will be sending out about 120 million Census surveys.

- Ramos also draws the connection between immigration and the Census: "One of the biggest concerns among people is that [if they are out of order with] the IRS or ICE might come after them with this [Census] information. Would stopping immigration raids help make the 2010 Census more accurate?" To which Senator Menendez responded by highlighting that all information provided to the Census is strictly confidential, and that its only purpose is to count individuals, "their tax or legal status is not inquired about, nor is it relevant," and added, "I hope the raids are stopped, but people should know that if a Census worker approaches them, they are not in danger because of their immigration status. The Census worker is only trying to count them."

The Census is pivotal for Hispanics.  In the interview, Ramos also takes on a very important issue that Simon and NDN discuss at length - the potential politization of the Census if debate ensues over who can/should be counted:

Jorge Ramos (JR): Some believe it's impossible to count everyone - we are 306 million people in the U.S. If we can't count everyone, is there a statistical method we can use to ensure everyone is counted?
Menendez: First, we must respond the Census form, and respond to Census workers.
JR: "How many Hispanics are there in the U.S.? 45 million?..."
Menendez: About 45 million, but that's also why the Census is important, we need to be able to see how our community has changed.
JR: Do you think this 45 million is an undercount? Given undocumenteds, etc.
Menendez: I wouldn't know for sure, but what matters is that the [United States] Constitution calls for "all persons" to be counted, regardless of their legal status.

II. U.S. Visa Limits Hit Indian Workers - This piece by Emily Wax in today's Washington Post alludes to stories we wrote about earlier, on the effect of the current economic climate on some of the world's best and brightest:

"Hiring H-1B visa holders has become as toxic as giving out corporate bonuses," said Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University professor and Harvard University research fellow.

"This is part of the broader story of the unwinding of globalization in the current economic crisis. As goods have moved more freely around the world, so did people, but now that's ending," said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations and author of the book "The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11."
The stimulus bill contained the Employ American Workers Act, which was sponsored by Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). They say that they are worried that laid-off Americans struggling to find work are being displaced by foreign junior investment analysts, computer programmers and corporate lawyers who accept a fraction of the pay commanded by Americans.

Grassley's argument is precisely why we need to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year. We need to fix the broken system to help our economy, not avoid it. Closing our border to the best and brightest when we need them most is not the answer. Yes, some employers and employees suffer a kind of indentured-servitude under the existing visa programs because that is how they are currently designed. There are so few legal channels for companies to hire the talent they need and for students or employees to obtain status that they are willing to endure unfair conditions in order to remain. Grassley's proposal is not a solution, it's demagoguery - if not worse. 

The article continues:

But many immigration experts say shutting out the talent from abroad will only hurt U.S. competitiveness in the long run. "It's really unfortunate because we will lose an entire generation of wonderful minds as a by-product," Wadhwa said. "The next Google or Silicon Valley will be in Bangalore or Beijing." Nations such as Canada, Singapore and Australia have created "fast-track" immigration policies and incentives to attract foreign professionals. Immigrants founded more than half of all Silicon Valley start-ups in the past decade, Wadhwa said. These immigrant-led, U.S. technology companies employed more than 450,000 workers and grossed $52 billion in 2005. "My view is that we need to always bring in the best talent from everywhere -- more skilled and educated people end up creating jobs and making the pie bigger for everyone," Wadhwa said.

III. Another Example of the Broken Immigration System - Very interesting article in yesterday's Pittsburg Post Gazette also highlights the problem with our current, unrealistic, ineffective and broken immigration system:

When he was 20, Mr. Vielma contacted an aunt living near Los Angeles. She offered to help him cross into the United States illegally....Work visas were scarce, but a strong American economy beckoned with well-paying jobs...

Lest we forget, after the economic downturn, we will again have a larger economy that needs workers.  Will we leave it up to unscrupulous employers to fill that void? Or will we be proactive and forward-looking, and fix our broken immigration system this year?

IV. Immigration Reform: One Way to Take the Fight to the Cartels - Following our piece on the bilateral drug problem, an article in Saturday's Washington Post by Josh Kussman and Brian C. Goebel highlights the need for greater cooperation in this regard. Among other recommendations - like fully funding the Merida Initiative, assisting the patrolling of the Coasts, preventing the traffic of U.S. cash and guns, and fighting drug cartels domestically - they posit that comprehensive immigration reform that provides legal channels for Mexicans to come to the U.S. will eliminate the need for "coyotes" and the human trafficking network that largely feeds organized crime. This is particularly important at a time of economic depression in the border region that, together with the violence, pushes people to cross the border - legally or illegally.

In related news, more statements by Secretary of State Clinton, reported over the weekend by one of Mexico's most prominent periodicals, El Excelsior.  It appears that after her visit to Mexico, the Secretary understands the urgency of passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year as a tool to avoid what could become an immigration crisis:

The war against the Mexican drug cartels is important for the United States because..."greater instability and insecurity in Mexico can lead to greater migration [from Mexico] to the North."

V. "Progress by Passover" - According to the EFE news wire, a group of Jewish organizations all over the U.S. provided the White House a petition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform signed by 3500 individuals. Having this group join the faith community support of CIR is a landmark event.

VI. More Unions Favor Legalizing Workers - Changes in labor force spur rethinking, according to an interesting piece by Leslie Berestein in the San Diego Union Tribune. I thought this piece was worth re-printing:

In the early 1960s, a guest-worker program that had imported workers from Mexico since the days of World War II was drawing to a close. Those who were left picking crops were largely legal residents or U.S. citizens of Mexican and Filipino descent, along with working-class white and black Americans. "Back then, probably 80 percent were documented, and about 20 percent were undocumented. Today it would be just the reverse," said Arturo Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers, the nation's first farm labor union.

The UFW was founded by Cesar Chávez, whose birthday is celebrated Tuesday....It is now estimated that as many as 90 percent of California's farmworkers are foreign-born, most of them here illegally. This resonates in San Diego County, home to more small farms than any other county in the United States, according to the San Diego County Farm Bureau. Agriculture has repeatedly ranked fourth or fifth among the county's top industries.

As the labor force has changed, so has many organized labor groups'attitude toward unauthorized workers, whom they once viewed as low-paid competition and, in the case of farmworkers, as strikebreakers. Along with prominent labor groups such as the Service Employees International Union, the UFW, which has about 27,000 members, is a vocal proponent of revamping immigration laws to grant legal status to those already working here.

While guest-worker plans continue to be a sticking point and dissent persists among trade unions in some industries, the general thinking in recent years has gone as such: If you can't beat the competition, let them join.
Unauthorized workers who are easily exploited give an unfair advantage to employers who hire them and drive down wages for other workers [in the same sector], say labor leaders who favor legalization. Giving them legal status and rights would level the playing field, while bringing them into the union fold would boost membership and bargaining muscle. "There has been a significant change in the mind-set of the labor movement," Rodriguez said.

"If you bring in people more hungry than the ones already here, those workers are forced to do what is necessary to take care of their families," he said. Today, legalizing workers once seen as competitors has become a priority; the UFW kicked off a new pro-legalization campaign this month.
It is also viewed as a necessity.
"We think this is really critical for the future," Rodriguez said.


Weekly Update on Immigration: Immigration Reform Featured on Sunday Morning Shows- In English and Spanish

Immigration reform remains at the forefront of voters' minds. Yesterday, immigration reform came up during Meet the Press and Al Punto, Univision's Spanish-language Sunday morning show.  

I.  Al Punto - The program began with an interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during which she made encouraging statements in regards to hemispheric relations and our bilateral relationship with Mexico.  However, when the subject of immigration came up, her message was mixed.

[Translation from Spanish voiceover]:
Jorge Ramos: Secretary Clinton, Immigration Reform - when will it come up in Congress?
HRC: Well it is certainly on President Obama's agenda, but because of the economic crisis there are many challenges we must address first...we feel that we have to wait.  Of course the U.S. economy recovery is very important to both the U.S. and Mexico, and we must address the economic challenges before we resolve strictly U.S. problems and shared issues like immigration.

Of course the President's primary focus should be the economic crisis.  But in truth, immigration reform should be a tool precisely to help get our economy back on track.  As the economy worsens, CIR would remove a trap door under the minimum wage. Fully 5 percent of the American workforce today is undocumented.  Bringing them under the protection of American law will allow them to be paid minimum wage, prevent exploitation by unscrupulous employers, allow them to unionize, and will relieve downward pressure on the wages of all Americans.  Moreover, putting the undocumented population on the road to citizenship will undoubtedly increase tax revenue and lift wages for all Americans in a time of economic crisis.  Revenue from fees and fines will be generated - as stated by the last Congressional Budget Office score that accompanied the CIR legislation that passed the Senate in 2006 - CIR would net "increased revenues by about $44 billion over the 2007-2016 period." 

When times were good, it was not the time for immigration reform; now that times are bad it is once again not time for immigration reform - so when is the "right" time?  We have seen this cyclical public debate about the "timing" of immigration reform occur in the 1960s, 1980s, and again in this decade. It is urgent for U.S. rule of law, it is urgent for the people who currently live in the shadows, it is urgent for the businesses that want to compete in a global economy, and it is urgent for both Democratic and Republican candidates in order to have a major legislative achievement this year, and to consolidate gains with the electorate - particularly Hispanic voters.  

II. Meet the Press - Immigration reform is an issue that is about right and wrong, and about achieving practical solutions versus status quo, but at this juncture, more than anything it is about past versus future.  A great deal of the resistance against immigration reform is actually rooted in a profound resistance against immigrants and against the changing face of America.  This new, 21st century demography of America is reflected in its electorate.  As he interviewed U.S. Sen. John McCain on Meet the Press (MTP) yesterday, David Gregory replayed a video from an earlier episode, during which Mike Murphy (Republican strategist) stated:

At the end of the day, here's the one statistic we all got to remember:  The country's changing.  Ronald Reagan won in 1980 with 51 percent of the vote.  We all worship Ronald Reagan. But if that election had been held with the current demographics of America today, Ronald Reagan would have gotten 47 percent of the vote.  The math is changing.  Anglo vote's 74 percent now, not 89.  And if we don't modernize conservatism, we're going to have a party of 25 percent of the vote going to Limbaugh rallies, enjoying every, every applause line, ripping the furniture up.  We're going to be in permanent minority status.

Gregory's questioning on immigration reform was linked precisely to the issue of how to modernize conservatism:

MR. GREGORY:  Given that, assuming you agree, how does conservatism modernize itself?  How does the party get back to power?

SEN. McCAIN:  The party of ideas, party of inclusiveness, outreach to other ethnic aspects of the American electorate; in my part of the country especially, Hispanic voters.  We have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office.  We have to welcome new ideas.  And there are-you know, a lot of people complain about divisions within the Republican Party.  That's good right now. Let's let a thousand flowers bloom.  Let's have different clashes of ideas, sharing the same principles and goals.....I have-I'm very optimistic about the future of the Republican Party if we do the right things.

MR. GREGORY:  Speaking about the Hispanic vote, would you like to work on immigration policy with this president?

SEN. McCAIN:  At any time I stand ready, but the president has to lead.  The, the administration has to lead with a proposal.

MR. GREGORY:  Do you think they have that proposal, want to do that?

SEN. McCAIN:  They have not come forward with one yet. They said that they are going to-I understand the president met with the Hispanic Caucus and he said he would have some forums and, and other things.

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

It's important to note that Sen. McCain stands ready to support the President's proposal on CIR, which means he would likely support the items outlined in the President's Immigration Agenda: interior and border enforcement, increasing the number of family visas, an improved system for future flow, and collaboration with immigrant-sending nations.  Without a doubt, Sen. McCain's support will be an integral part of any legislation if it is to pass in Congress. 

III. Press coverage in Mexico of HRC Visit - A piece in El Financiero, focuses solely on immigration: Tema Migratorio No Ha Sido Dejado de Lado: Clinton, "Immigration Issue Has Not Been Cast Aside: Clinton."

IV. Exodus in Rhode Island After 287(g) Agreement -  A news piece on Univision highlights the case of Rhode Island, were Governor Don Carcieri passed anti-immigrant ordinances and entered into a 287(g) agreement one year ago.  The effects are visible today, with much of the immigrant community reported to have moved south - but not south of the border.  As we've stated before, local enforcement does not serve to help deport individuals (while that is often the intention).  In this case, this "attrition" caused a loss in business to the locality, while immigrants moved to a different - more welcoming - state within the U.S. It is reported that many of the Hispanic immigrants in Rhode Island moved to North Carolina.  This is yet another example of how local and state immigration ordinances won't cut it - we need CIR in order to resolve the issues caused by the broken immigration system. 

V. Shifting the Focus of Enforcement - As Sam mentioned, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed proposed immigration raids, asking that the raids be given closer scrutiny before being carried out.  This could signal a very much needed shift in policy, away from workplace raids as immigration enforcement.  

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