Hillary Clinton

From Chile - An Important Moment in US-Latin American Relations

Vina Del Mar, Chile - This week marks a very intense period of US engagement with Latin America.  Secretary of State Clinton visited Mexico for two days.  Vice President Biden has been holding bi-lateral meetings here in Chile attending the Progressive Goverance Conference, and participated in a wide ranging 3 1-2 hour discussion this morning with the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay (and Britain).  Tomorrow he meets with a group of Central American leaders in Costa Rica.  He offered this op-ed about our relations with the region in anticipation of this trip.  And then in mid April comes the Summit of the Americas, what will be one of the more important regional gatherings of the modern era. 

For seven years NDN has been making the argument that closer hemispheric relations was a political necessity in the 21st century.   America now has the 3rd largest Hispanic population of all the nations in the Americas, bringing us closer to the culture, language and people of the region than any time in our history.  Our identity is this emerging century will have an increasingly Latin flavor, and it will force our government to be more concerned than it has ever been with maintaining strong relations with our neighbors to the South.  

Even more importantly Latin America has been experiencing an exciting period of sustained prosperity and stable, democratically-elected governments. The region has made tremendous strides in throwing off ideological and political shackles that have held Latin America back for decades.  America needs to acknowledge this progress much more openly, and begin to treat the countries and people of Latin America as what they are truly are now today - brothers, neighbors, collaborators, partners, friends. 

This week the new Obama Administration has sent a very clear signal that it desires a new day in US-Latin American relations.  The leaders here at the Progressive Goverance conference have taken note of this attention, this respect, and I think in this extraordinary first 100 days of the Obama Presidency, the decision to engage decisively with this region this quickly is one of the most important decisions our new President has made - and one we talked about a great deal at our compelling forum previewing the Summit of the Americas this past Thursday. 

It has been exciting be have been a part of this great conference.  Once again kudos to Policy Network for pulling off a remarkable event.

Quick '08 Update

- As this is being posted, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are appearing together in Unity, NH. Quoting Obama: "She rocks".

- In The Fix, Chris Cillizza looks at the presidential politics of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn DC's ban on handguns. On the same subject, PrezVid offers a video of Obama expressing his belief that the Second Amendment is an individual right. For more of the legal aspects, keep checking SCOTUSblog.

- Will there be a new debate format this Fall? According to the WSJ's Washington Wire, the Commission on Presidential Debates is hoping so.

- The Obama campaign continues to push the PowerPoint that Campaign Manager David Plouffe went over in DC this week, showing the strength of the campaign as well as highlighting fundraising realities among the candidates and party committees. All this comes as two more states shift to Obama.

- Michael Bush has an article worth reading in AdAge entitled "The Web Is Where It's At for Youth Vote". Here's a provacative quote:

"The good news for Democrats is that they [have proved they] can connect with voters, and the good news for Republicans is that this isn't about party or candidate; it's about the tool," Mr. Irving said. "So the candidate who is good at using these tools will have better success at reaching these voters. These voters are going [online] to find information because they can shape the message they receive and that's the watershed."

- As I wrote this morning, both U.S. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama will be addressing the 25th Annual NALEO Conference tomorrow.

- John McCain has a new ad, "Purpose". Check it out below:

Will the Democrats Look Forward or Backward in 2008…and Beyond?

Makeovers or realignments occur about every four decades in American politics, resulting in forty years of partisan advantage for the party that catches the next wave of generational and technological change. For the other party, it means spending forty years in the minority. Whether a party prospers or loses ground at the time of a realignment depends, in large part, on whether it is willing to embrace a new coalition of voters that is aligned with the larger changes taking place in society or whether it remains locked in the divisions and debates of the past.

In 1896, the Democrats and William Jennings Bryan looked back to an agrarian America and to Jefferson's and Jackson's "yeoman farmer", leaving it to Republicans William McKinley and Mark Hanna, the Carl Rove of his era, to appeal to an emerging urban America. The result was GOP dominance of U.S. politics for the next forty years.

The Democrats got it right in 1932. That year, spurred by the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt built a coalition based on the economic egalitarianism of the GI Generation, many of whom were blue-collar workers and the children and grandchildren of the last great wave of European immigrants to the United States.

But as late as 1968, many Democrats still wanted to rely on the New Deal coalition even as a young idealist generation, Baby Boomers, attempted to get the party to focus on a different set of concerns including civil rights, women's rights, and opposition to the Vietnam war. The resulting divisions presented an opportunity that the Republicans have exploited ever since.

Now, forty years later, American politics is undergoing another period of political and generational change just as it did in 1896, 1932, and 1968. If the Democratic Party has the courage to embrace a new generation of young voters and the group-oriented values it favors, it can once again recapture the political advantage for the next four decades.

Unfortunately, most of the advice the party is getting on what constitutes a winning coalition in 2008, is being provided by pundits and candidates who seem locked in the politics and divisions of the past. Some tell the party to focus on the "white working class," or "hardworking white people." On the other hand, a recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that the focus should be on "senior citizens," virtually all of whom vote and who, together, comprise about 20-percent of the electorate. But these approaches to coalition building neither recognize the major demographic changes continuing to take place in America nor the factors that lead to political makeovers or realignments.

Throughout history, realignments have been produced by the political coming-of-age of a large, dynamic generation and its use of a new communication technology that mobilizes the opinions and votes of that generation. Today's realignment stems from the emergence of the Millennial Generation (Americans born 1982-2003) and its use of Internet based social networking technologies.

The Millennial Generation is the largest in American history. There are over 90 million Millennials, about four in ten of whom are of voting age, making them just as powerful a force in the 2008 election as the much more frequently touted senior citizen cohort.

The Millennial Generation is also the most diverse in our history. Four in ten are non-white and about 20-percent are the children of at least one immigrant parent. Reflecting their gender-neutral behavior, a majority of college undergraduates are women, for the first time in U.S. history. Solid majorities of Millennials are tolerant on social and racial issues, favorable to governmental intervention and egalitarian policies in the economy, and an activist, but multilateral, approach in foreign affairs. With few exceptions, Millennials have overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama in this year's presidential primaries and caucuses.

At the same time, changes in America's economy and the composition of its population serve to continue the half-century long trend, noted recently by Alan Abramowitz in the Rasmussen Report, of the diminishing contribution of "white working class voters" to the American workforce overall and to the Democratic electorate specifically:


"In the 1950s, manual workers made up 47 percent of the white electorate in the United States while sales and clerical workers made up 21 percent and professional and managerial workers made up 32 percent. By the first decade of the 21st century, however, manual workers made up only 24 percent of the white electorate, while sales and clerical workers made up 33 percent and professional and managerial workers made up 43 percent. Since the 1960s, however, Democratic identification among both white manual workers and white sales and clerical workers has declined sharply while Democratic identification among white professional and managerial workers has risen. Today, white professional and managerial workers are actually more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than either white manual workers or white clerical and sales workers."


As Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel wrote recently, the Democratic Party is rapidly becoming a party of "gentry liberals", minorities and youth with little resemblance to the working class-based party coalition assembled by FDR almost eighty years ago.

This shift in America's economic dynamics and demographics, coupled with the generational and technological changes the country is experiencing, produces an historic opportunity for the Democratic Party in 2008. In a March 2008 Pew Survey, Millennials identified as Democrats over Republicans by a greater than 2:1 margin. Millennials are the first generation in more than forty years in which a larger number say they are liberal rather than conservative. In contrast to older generations that are sharply divided by sex and race in their ideology and party identification Millennials are united in their political leanings, a fact that serves to enhance the potential decisiveness of this powerful new generation.

All of this gives the Democrats a clear leg-up in the Millennial makeover that's under way. Whether the Democratic Party takes advantage of this historical opportunity largely depends on the choices it makes in building its electoral coalition. Will it look backward, as it did to its detriment in 1896, or forward, as it did in 1932, to its benefit? The consequences of that choice will shape the fate of the party and the nation, not just in 2008, but also for the coming four decades.

Schaller: Clinton botched the black vote

Tom Schaller - a panelist at our upcoming event on Friday, May 9, New Tools and New Audiences (RSVP here) - has an analysis of the Clinton campaign's strategy in the election thus far that is very much worth reading. The lede from Slate:

If Hillary Clinton fails to wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Barack Obama, there will be plenty of second-guessing about how she ran her campaign. What if her loyalty to campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle and chief strategist Mark Penn had not prevented her from demoting them sooner? What if her electoral strategists had better understood the power of caucus states and the way in which votes cast there translated into delegates? What if she had actually planned for the month following Super Tuesday, thereby preventing Obama from posting the 11 straight wins after Feb. 5 that provided him the pledged delegate lead he enjoys today? But beyond these questions, one little-discussed factor (with direct or indirect relation to all of the above) appears to have had fatal consequences for Clinton's campaign: She failed to mount a strong enough challenge to Obama's claim on the African-American vote.

For similar commentary, be sure to check out Schaller's prior post on our blog, as well as Simon's post On Obama, race and the end of the Southern Strategy.






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