President Barack Obama

Join Me This Thursday for Special Presentation - The Dawn of a New Politics

I hope you will join me this Thursday, January 14th for a special presentation, “The Dawn of a New Politics." This hour long presentation takes an in-depth look at big changes happening here at home and abroad which are making the politics of the 21st century very different from the century that just past.  Among the subjects we will take a deep dive into:  

Accelerating changes in global technology and media. Twitter, Facebook, DVRs and the rise of cable TV, smartbooks, notebooks, web video and satellite TV, Droids, Nexuses and iphones, Smartphones, Kindles, Tablet PCs.  A new media and technology age is emerging globally, putting ever more powerful tools in the hands of every day people.  It is radically transforming the way people across the world and here at home communicate, advocate, organize, govern and do just about everything else we do;

Extraordinary demographic changes taking place here at home. Huge waves of immigration.  The rise of the Millennial generation, the largest in US history. America now on a path to be a "minority majority" nation by 2042.  The demographic changes playing out in the US today are among the most consequential in all of American history, which among other things is forcing each political party to forge new and very different electoral coalitions and electoral maps;

Globalization and the "rise of the rest." Twenty years of globalization and economic liberalization has helped bring about what Fareed Zakaria has called "the rise of the rest."  This process has brought about a degree of modernity, education, affluence and access to information to billions of people in developing nations inconceivable even a decade ago, a development with profound implications for America and the world.

This powerful presentation will take a look at all these issues and more, and if you have the time there will be time left for thirty minutes of spirited discussion at the end. For those wanting to make sense of all the political news of the last few weeks this presentation will offer some very relevant context. 

This presentation of “The Dawn of a New Politics” is free and open to the public, so feel free to bring friends and colleagues along. And for those who cannot make it in person, the presentation will be webcast live, in high-definition, for any one in the world to see, starting at 12:15 pm ET. Feel free to forward this invitation on to any one you think might be interested--the more the merrier, in-person or on-line. For those who may have seen earlier versions of "Dawn," this new one is substantially retooled, and will be fresh to anyone who has not seen it in the last six months or so. 

To RSVP for lunch and the in person showing of “Dawn,” please contact Jessica Singleton at To watch live, just follow this link ( at 12:15pm and sit back, watch and listen.   NDN is located at 729 15th, St, NW between H and New York, just a block or so from the White House and Treasury.  The presentation will take place in our event space on the 1st floor. 

For additional reading on the arguments in this presentation, click on the various links below.  

Thanks my friends and Happy New Year to you all.  

Related Reading:

Anticipating the Coming Debate Over Foreign and Security Policy,, 12/31/09

The Key to the Fall Debate: Staying Focused on the Economy,, 9/3/09

Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century, Demos, 7/24/09

Obama: No Realist He, Huffington Post, 6/16/09

On Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy,, 1/4/08

The 50 Year Strategy; Beyond '08: Can Progressives Play for Keeps? by Simon Rosenberg and Peter Leyden, Mother Jones, 10/28/07

A Laptop in Every Backpack, by Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross,, 5/1/07

The Foreword to Crashing the Gate, 3/7/06 (a book by Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong)

The Iranian Uprising Escalates

As hard as it to get information out of Iran (no foreign reporting is allowed), it is now very clear that something very significant has happened and is in the process of happening there today.  The opposition to one of the worst governments of the modern era is spreading, growing more organic, more national, and from what we saw today even more courageous and brave. 

A NY Times's blog, The Lede, has incredible accounts today of both the insanity of the government itself, and brutal reports from the streets of Tehran and other cities. 

The Obama Administration issued the following statement in response to the widespread murdering of every day Iranians by their own government:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights.  Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States.  Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo - it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation

More soon. 

Update 830pm Mountain Time: Despite the extraordinary steps the Iranian government has taken in recent months to contain the information flow from inside Iran to the rest of the world, we - all of us - are able to watch graphic scenes of Iranian government repression in almost real time.  The people of Iran have through the year desperately attempted to share these images and accounts using the modern tools available to them - mobile devices, facebook, twitter, youtube and email.  That we are able to see so much despite the government's efforts should be a powerful warning to other repressive regimes that there is no going back now in this digital age.  These new tools are giving regular people just too much power. Repression has a powerful new opponent, one of the most powerful it has ever had - the ubiquitous global communications network that really is, truly, always on and increasingly everywhere.

Consider this new passage from The Lede:

The Lede will continue to follow events in Iran and sift through the evidence of protests and clashes posted on the Web in the days ahead. The Iranian journalist and blogger Omid Habibinia notes that this final video we will embed today appears to show a Basij militia building in Tehran burning on Sunday at or near the country’s state-run oil company. The fact that more than half a dozen people can be seen in this clip recording the incident suggests that we will continue to have a lot of material to sort through.

This is why in the midst of the news flowing out of Iran today I tweeted (simonwdc if you want to follow):

Increasingly feels like the great ideological battles of our coming century will be less left vs right, and more open vs closed.

Given all that has happened in the Middle East in recent years, and the role Iran has played, what is unfolding in the streets of Iran may be the most important set of political events taking place any where in the world today.  The global legitimacy of the leaders and institutions in power are being destroyed now, weakening Iran's hand in the nuclear negotiations taking place now, for sure, but also, eventually, weakening the hand of their political allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and other countries in the region.

But it is also a powerful warning to the repressive regimes in the region - US allied or not - that the will of their own people can no longer be dismissed as before.  For a region so despotic these events - cries of death to the current elected President - must be both thrilling for champions of democracy, and terrifying to its opponents.

So given all this, should our President, on vacation, getting a very needed rest, do more? is the statement released today, stronger than similar statements released earlier this year, enough?  What else could be done? Should be done? Can the free nations of the world do more than suggest that we are watching?  The answer, I think, has much more significance than just the events unfolding in Iran now.  It will help lay the intellectual predicate of what we will come to know as the Obama foreign policy doctrine in the coming years.

I weighed in on all this in quite a lengthy essay back when the Iranian Uprising began in earnest. 

I can't stop watching the images coming from Iran, and feel myself wanting to do much more than blog and write.  I end by wishing the people of Iran, potentially sacrificing so much in the face of such a horribly dangerous and repressive government, well in their inspiring struggles in the days ahead.  My thoughts, prayers and wishes are with you.

Tues Afternoon Update: Many news agencies have reported the arrest of Iranian opposition leaders today, and the Lede has more videos of the clashes yesterday.   At his press conference this morning, the President said this about what was happening in Iran:

The United States joins with the international community in strongly condemning the violent and unjust suppression of innocent Iranian citizens, which has apparently resulted in tensions, injuries and even death.

For months the Iranian people have sought nothing more than to exercise their universal rights.  Each time they have done so they have been met with the iron fist of brutality, even on solemn occasions and holy days.  And each time that has happened the world has watched with deep admiration for the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people, who are a part of Iran's great and enduring civilization.

What's taking place within Iran is not about the United States or any other country -- it's about the Iranian people and their aspirations for justice and a better life for themselves.  And the decision of Iran's leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away.  As I said in Oslo, it's telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Along with all free nations the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights.  We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people.  We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran.  We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there.  And I'm confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.

Tues PM Update - The NY Times is reporting that the Iranian government has lashed out at the West, for, I guess, paying attention to its murdering and jailing of its own people. 

Some Thoughts on President Obama's Historic Global Opportunity

In June, in the midst of the uprisings in Iran, I wrote an essay about the role of President Obama in global politics. I republish it, today, on this day of his Nobel Peace Prize speech, and am as hopeful and inspired this morning as I was then:

I'm not going to have enough time to get this all out this morning, but to start, I want to agree with folks like Fareed Zakaria and Zbig Brzezinski that the central dynamic driving global politics today is the "rise of the rest," or the powerful aspiration of the rising peoples and nations of the world to have their shot at a version of what we call the American Dream. That dynamic, which Barack Obama began to address in his Cairo speech, involves many other strands of history - the end of colonialism and the Cold War, the transformative cultural impact of globalization, rising standards of living around the world, the rapid spread of the Internet and mobile devices putting ever more powerful tools in the hands of the world's people, the emergence of a global Millennial Generation comfortable with these tools, more affluent and educated and globally aware than their parents, eager to seek a better life for themselves and their countries. 

Informing and inspiring this global transformation of course is the radical promise of equal opportunity for all offered by the America's founding fathers. Obama discussed it this way in his recent Cairo speech: 

....Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words - within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."

......I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people.

This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.

As Obama alludes to in his speech, the way President Bush attempted to "spread democracy" did much in recent years to undermine and degrade the American championed vision of democracy just as an enormous part of the world was awakening to its possibilities. This disappointment with the perceived anti-democratic leanings of an American President acting on the global stage - at this point in history - itself became a very powerful global dynamic, and was central to the global rejection of Bush and the neocons by peoples and governments around the world. 

Another factor in this "rise of the rest" is race, the emergence of non-white European global powers and peoples. Only about a billion of the world's seven billion people are of white European heritage, and there can be little doubt now that this century will see the America-European dominated global order give way to one more representative of the people of the world and its emerging demographic realities. We saw some of the first manifestations of this in the recent G-20 meetings with the discussion of how to reorganize the IMF.   The seats at the tables of power will be increasingly occupied by non-white, non-Europeans, which in and of itself will become a powerful visual, or as we call it, "optic," in the emerging global order of the 21st century. 

Which brings me to Barack Obama, a self-described racial "mutt," a man who grew up in multiracial societies in Indonesia and Hawaii, and who was elected with the very potent high-tech and democratizing "new tools" of the 21st century. In ways that I think we are only beginning to understand, he has himself become the extraordinary global symbol to those aspiring for more for themselves and their countries everywhere - the story of an outsider, a member of an oppressed class made good; of the overthrown of a oligarchical oppressive power through a popular democratic uprising; of the use of powerful new tools to give regular people a voice in their own futures; and one of the most powerful parts of this story, the emergence of a non-white leader as the leader of the most important nation in the world, at this time of the "rise of the rest." 

For all of these reasons I don't think Barack Obama has the option of becoming an advocate of the realist school of American foreign policy. He has already been cast in a different role by history - one of inspiring champion of all those throughout the world who need someone to speak for them. I will not argue that what we are seeing in Iran today is a direct result of the Cairo speech, or of Obama's direct inspiration to the forces of modernization and democratization inside Iran. But there can be no doubt that Obama's rise has injected a new inspiring dynamic into the rising world, and these forces, unleashed, have the potential to remake the world for good or ill. Our President, as chief global advocate of free and open societies, cannot sit on the sidelines as people attempt to throw off the shackles of old and anti-democratic regimes. This moment is too important, this particular leader too powerful, for America not to ambitiously re-assert itself as the great global champion of universal aspirations of all the world's peoples. 

Where this takes us it is too early to tell, but go there we must, as are witnessing the birth of a global "new politics" of the 21st century very different from the global politics of the century just past. And in Barack Obama, this "new politics" has found its first global leader and inspired champion. May he have the courage and vision to seize this global opportunity, as this may be, more so than any other, his ultimate calling.

The President's Nobel Speech

Here it is.  And it is good.

Kos Track, Other Polls Show Positive Obama, Health Care Movement

Initial polls make clear that the political landscape has changed, favorably, for health care reform and the President. 

I think the passion of the President's speech and the Wilson fiasco has created a public and media backlash against the angry nihilism of the modern Republicans , a super important developement if your hope is to see progress on our many challenges this year.

Obama, A Strong and Confident President

While I have not seen and heard all of his speeches, tonight's speech on health care was my favorite moment of the Obama Presidency so far.  His close was particularly moving, persuasive, powerful.

He also began tonight an critical effort I call "loving the sinner but hating the sin."   He was able to differentiate between the constructive, and destructive, Republicans and conservatives.  Somehow he has to grow more comfortable taking on the still strong and virulent ideological and political remnants of a conservatism gone haywire that did so much to weaken our nation in recent years. He did it well tonight, but my sense is that this new found willingness to directly confront the wild right is something he has do more of, and do more effectively.

A great night.  I am proud of our President.  Yet am still very aware that we have a long way to go.

Barack Talks the Economy in His Weekly Address

You can find the text itself here, and be sure to read this recent essay I offered on the challenges of the current economic moment, Not Taking the Presidential Eye Off the Economic Ball.   You can find more of our recent economic work here.

Barack at His Very Best

An excerpt from his speech earlier today to the Ghanaian Parliment:

This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections. Your prosperity can expand America’s. Your health and security can contribute to the world’s. And the strength of your democracy can help advance human rights for people everywhere.

So I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world – as partners with America on behalf of the future that we want for all our children. That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility, and that is what I want to speak with you about today.

We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.

I say this knowing full well the tragic past that has sometimes haunted this part of the world. I have the blood of Africa within me, and my family’s own story encompasses both the tragedies and triumphs of the larger African story.

My grandfather was a cook for the British in Kenya, and though he was a respected elder in his village, his employers called him "boy" for much of his life. He was on the periphery of Kenya’s liberation struggles, but he was still imprisoned briefly during repressive times. In his life, colonialism wasn’t simply the creation of unnatural borders or unfair terms of trade – it was something experienced personally, day after day, year after year.

My father grew up herding goats in a tiny village, an impossible distance away from the American universities where he would come to get an education. He came of age at an extraordinary moment of promise for Africa. The struggles of his own father’s generation were giving birth to new nations, beginning right here in Ghana. Africans were educating and asserting themselves in new ways. History was on the move.

But despite the progress that has been made – and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa – we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Countries like Kenya, which had a per capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair.

It is easy to point fingers, and to pin the blame for these problems on others. Yes, a colonial map that made little sense bred conflict, and the West has often approached Africa as a patron, rather than a partner. But the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade, or wars in which children are enlisted as combatants. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.

Of course, we also know that is not the whole story. Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity. The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth.

This progress may lack the drama of the 20th century’s liberation struggles, but make no mistake: it will ultimately be more significant. For just as it is important to emerge from the control of another nation, it is even more important to build one’s own.

A New Day Indeed for US Latin American Relations

From the NY Times this am:

"Leaders from the Western Hemisphere, inspired by a new American president, closed a two-day summit meeting proclaiming a new dawn for relations in the region, which had been marked by bitter disagreements in recent years with the United States.

The antagonism seemed to melt away, replaced by a palpable enthusiasm for a new openness from the United States and hopes of improved relations for Washington with Venezuela and Cuba, which emerged as a core issue here.

The newfound togetherness was a turning point for the region, leaders here said, at a time when the ability to work together could prove critical to weathering the global economic crisis, which threatens to reverse gains the region has made in alleviating poverty in the past several years.

“There was a spirit of good will that went way beyond the wildest dreams of any one of us,” Patrick Manning, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said Sunday."

As I sat down to write this morning I kept coming back to one notion - is it okay just to be proud of our President again?  While there will be bumps in regional relations in the years ahead, the President and his team have sent the most important signal they could have sent early in their Administration - that they are taking Latin America, its people and its challenges seriously.   They have shown respect to a region that has not seen enough of that from the US in our history.   And they have shown that they are willing to begin a process that we all hope will lead to a better day in Cuba, and better US-Cuban relations. 

This was a wildly successful trip for the President and his team.  A powerful start.  Congratulations to our new President and his dextrous team.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus to Meet with President Obama

As highlighted by KOS, Roll Call, and The Hill, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will meet tomorrow with President Barack Obama.  Immigration reform is expected to be one of - if not the - issues of top priority discussed.

In anticipation of the meeting tomorrow at the White House with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, NDN is re-releasing its basic backgrounder on the recent history of the immigration reform debate.  You can find it and download it here.

Simon Rosenberg and Andres Ramirez, VP of Hispanic Programs at NDN, are available for comment on the background and future of the immigration debate.  Simon is also available to discuss the issue on television news programs tomorrow.  Contact Dan Boscov-Ellen: 202-384-1226.

Simon stated, quoted by Kos:

Our broken immigration system is a national disgrace, yet another terrible vexing governing challenge left over from the disastrous Bush era. Legitimate workers have a hard time getting legal visas. Employers knowingly hire and exploit undocumented workers. Our immigrant justice system is a moral outrage. And of course, the scapegoating of the undocumented migrant has become the staple for right-wing politicians and media, giving them something to rail against as the rest of their agenda has collapsed all around them. It is long past time to fix this broken system and replace it with a 21st century immigration system consistent with traditional American values and the needs of our modern ideas-based economy.

For links to other reference materials including a great deal of recent polling on immigration, click here.

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