Thanks for the kind words of encouragement

Just a quick thanks to the dozens of you who have contacted us about the appointment of new executive director, Ali Wade.  We all agree that she is a great addition, and look forward to seeing her on her first day, this Monday.

Hoyer releases ambitious 100 Hours schedule

New House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer just released the House Democrats ambitious schedule for the next few weeks.  See it here.   Key dates so far:

Tuesday, January 9 - Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations

Wednesday, January 10 - Increase the Minimum Wage

Thursday, January 11 - Expand Stem Cell Research

Friday, January 12 - Allow Negotiation for Lower Prescription Drug Costs

Wednesday, January 17 - Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans

Thursday, January 18 - End Subsidies for Big Oil and Invest in Renewable Energy

It is clearly a new day in Washington. 

Ali Weise joins NDN as new executive director

I am very excited to announce a major new step forward for our organization. One of the most talented and good people I know, Ali Weise, is joining NDN as our new executive director. Below, I send along a press release announcing her arrival.

Bringing Ali on board is the first in a series of steps we will be taking to ensure that this wonderful network we've built does its part - and does it well - at this critical time for the nation.

I hope everyone in the NDN community will make Ali feel welcome, and do everything they can to ensure her success in the years ahead,

Happy New Year all.


Simon Rosenberg

Veteran Congressional, political aide to become new executive director

Washington, DC – NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, announced that Alixandria Weise would be joining its staff in a newly created position of executive director.

“America and the progressive movement face a whole new array of 21st century challenges,” said Ali Weise. “Few organizations have thought more about or worked harder to help us meet these challenges than NDN. I am excited to be joining this team that has such a long track record of success, and I am ready to get to work.”

“Ali has the right mix of vision, intelligence and leadership skills to take NDN to the next institutional level,” said NDN President Simon Rosenberg. “I’ve known Ali for a long time, consider her a good friend and believe deeply that she is one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with. With Ali on board, there is much, much more NDN will be able to do to contribute to the important debates of our day.”

With the titles of Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Weise will oversee the day to day operations of NDN, and will report directly to President Simon Rosenberg. She will be joining NDN’s very experienced management team that includes New Politics Institute Director Peter Leyden, a well-known writer and former managing editor of Wired magazine, and Hispanic Strategy Center Director Joe Garcia, the former head of the Cuban-American National Foundation.

Alixandria Weise, 31, has worked in the United States Congress and Democratic politics for over ten years. During the 2006 campaign cycle, Ms. Weise was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Campaign Director and then became the Deputy Director of the Committee's Independent Expenditure operation, which spent $67 million in over 50 congressional races. Ali served as Congressman Adam Smith's (WA-09) Chief of Staff from 2000 - 2005, and as his Communications and Legislative Director from 1997 - 2000. During her time in Congress, Weise was a leading staffer for the New Democrat Coalition, a House Caucus currently co-chaired by Congressman Smith.

Ms. Weise also ran the Washington State Caucus campaign for Senator John Kerry's presidential race in 2004. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a Washington state native.

NDN is a think tank and advocacy organization working to advance a 21st century progressivism. It has three affiliates, the New Politics Institute, the Hispanic Strategy Center and the NDN Political Fund. NDN and its work can be found at www.ndn.org, www.newpolitics.net and www.ndnblog.org.

AM Roundup: A new era begins this week

Welcome back all.  This Thursday the Democrats retake control of Congress for the first time since 1994.   The House is poised to move quickly on a variety of fronts, Senator Joe Biden will start a series of hearings on Iraq next week and with a flood of stories this week about the first woman Speaker, it is quickly, very quickly, to start feeling like the dawn of a new era in Washington. 

In news the Times has a very detailed recap of the terrible year in Iraq, the Post has one more story delving into the growing sectarian divide in Iraq and the Times reports on what appears to be progress in mobilizing the world against Iran's nuclear ambitions. 

And on the "New Day" front, the Post previews the legislative strategy of the House Democrats in what will be their first week back in power, and the Times' Carl Hulse writes about the healthy tension in the Democratic Caucus between the recently elected and the more experienced members.

Exciting times all.  Look for much from NDN this week and of course in the weeks and months to come.

Reflections on an important year

I end the year with a complex set of thoughts and feelings about the year just passed.   Above all else I feel gratitude, and a sense of accomplishment.   Our democracy worked.  The American people, unhappy with their government, choose a different path.  It was an empowering election, one that allowed a whole new generation of Americans to learn for themselves that in our system of government the people are sovereign.  That at the end of the day our destiny is in our hands.  That it is up to us.  It is a vital lesson that I hope the Americans of the 21st century will take with them for the rest of their lives.  It has been, and will be, true that our nation will only be as great, and good, as the American people fight for and demand.   And this year they demanded more, much more.

The two main American ideological movements saw a year of accelerating change.  The great conservative movement of the late 20th century, a modern political machine that I’ve described elsewhere as an Information Age Tammany Hall, finally in total ideological and political control of our government, so utterly failed at the basics of governing in these past few years that it must cause a total reappraisal of the entire conservative experiment, and brought about an end to what we call the era of conservative ascendancy in American politics.

The progressive movement, on the other hand, is clearly going through a long-overdue modernizing phase and is poised for a period of possible ascendency.  We’ve seen the creation of vital new institutions and institutional capacities like America Votes, Blue Fund, Catalist, Center for American Progress, Change to Win, Copernicus, Democracy Alliance, Democracy Journal, Hispanic Strategy Center, Media Matters, Move On, New Politics Institute and many many blogs like Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo.  These groups joined venerable and still productive progressive institutions like DLC-PPI, Emily's List, NDN and the Sierra Club.  New elected leaders are are also emerging, with Cory Booker, Rahm Emanuel, Stephanie Herseth, Gavin Newsom, Barack Obama, Martin O’Malley, Deval Patrick, Kathleen Sebelius, Eliot Spitzer, Chris Van Hollen and Antonio Villaraigosa adding their modern voices to those of already established leaders like Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Bill Richardson. 

But above all else what is transforming the progressive movement is the return of average people to the core of our politics.  Millions of Americans, disappointed by their government, became politically active in progressive and Democratic politics these last few years.  Their hopes, their labor, their passion and their money fueled the defeat of the conservatives this year.  It is a defining attribute of our age that an array of new technological and media tools are allowing many more Americans to participate in our politics in a more meaningful way, and allowing organizations much greater ability to manage and harness this latent activism for their ends.   In the 21st century Americans will be much less “consumer” and “donor” and much more “participant” or “partner.”  Whether progressive leaders can effectively harness this passion and energy with all these new tools, and whether with the great motivator of the Bush presidency waning our enthusiastic progressive partners will continue to give so much of themselves to the country and our movement, is one of the great questions of the day.  On this matter I am optimistic, for too many people in recent years have directly experienced that their own civic participation - voting, volunteering, contributing, blogging - can change the course of history for them to just walk away from politics.

I also end the year angry and frustrated.  The Bush Administration’s recent clumsy, confused and increasingly pathetic efforts to find a new approach to the great calamity of Iraq serves as a stark reminder of how badly we’ve been governed in this decade, and how much weaker he and his team have left this country than they found it.  We leave the Bush era with very little progress having been made on the extraordinary set of governing challenges facing America at the dawn of the 21st century, and lots of new ones created by their historic mismanagement of our government.  To me, these challenges taken together are the greatest set of challenges America has faced since the waging of WWII and the reconstruction in its aftermath.  Think about what must get done – restoring broad-based prosperity in a more virulent age of globalization, finding a new foreign policy path after the neo-con disaster, tackling the structural budget imbalances left by years of out of control Republican spending and drastic revenue reductions, coming to terms with global climate change and the continued environmental degradation of our planet, completing the standing up of the Department of Homeland Security so it can begin to fulfill its critical mission, restoring the integrity of our political system after years of the most corrupt team to ever run our government, re-imagining our health care system, shoring up a broken pension system, better aligning our immigration system to the needs of our economy – the list goes on.  But any one of these items on the list are big things, and yet we have to do all of them, simultaneously, and do them now – all the while trying to restore the nobility of the American experiment.

I end the year feeling that by tossing the failed conservatives from power, our nation has taken a giant step forward to accepting and meeting the obligations and challenges we face as we head further into the 21st century.  It is only a single step among many that must be taken, and as proud as I am of the role I and the entire NDN family played in this important year, I sense that our most critical battles lie ahead, and that they will be much more difficult than what we have faced in the sad and disappointing Bush years.  But as we’ve heard others say, I say “bring it on.”

On cocktails, FDR and absolute sacrilege

Our neighbor and good friend Eric Felten writes a wonderful weekly column for the Saturday Wall Street Journal on spirits and cocktails.  My wife Caitlin and I participated in a little experiment for today's column, creating our own and updated version - with a little help - of FDR's drink, the Old Fashioned.  It is a lovely piece, with lots of photos, so if you can read it online or in the paper it will be worth the extra effort.  Feedback on the FDR-inspired cocktail itself is welcome, of course.

Our blog to be observing holiday hours

Our blog will be observing holiday hours this week, and back in full force on the 2nd.   Happy Holidays all.

Vilsack on imigration reform

This article from Iowa's Times-Republican makes us think that Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack feels the same way NDN does about immigration reform. Speaking to Latinos in Marshalltown, Iowa, Vilsack said he was "outraged" by the actions of federal officials in the raids on illegal immigrants working at the meatpacking plant of Swift & Co. He said:

“This whole process suggests a crying need for immigration reform. It is clear this has been discussed and debated but not acted on by the Congress that just adjourned.”

Gov. Vilsack pointed out that his main focus is on the children who some worry will be taken from their parents. “I would hope we would be universal in the belief that children should be protected,” he said. (For good measure, the Governor - and everyone dealing with these issues - should be aware of NCLR's recent study showing that "nearly one in five Hispanics lacks sufficient access to nutritious food and one in 20 regularly goes hungry.")

(On a completely different note: watch Gov. Vilsack's new video blog on his website here.)

Help us make tomorrow better than today

For years, our community has focused on developing and promoting the ideas, leaders and institutional capacities that would make the 21st century just as much an American century as the century that has just passed.

The opportunity to imagine and proceed down this 21st century path has never been greater, or more important.

That’s why I hope you will consider making a contribution to NDN today.

As you may have noticed, we’ve been just as busy since the election as we were before, holding forums, offering our ideas, appearing in the press, blogging and talking with the leaders and staff of the New Majority. We plan to keep up this relentless pace, as we sense, as I’m sure you do, that we are in a very critical period in American history. Our challenges our great, and after years of disappointing and failed conservative government, progress is not an option.

Your support today will allow us to hit the ground running in early 2007, and play a very strong and assertive role in helping progressives take advantage of this historic opportunity to chart a better course for our nation.

In the coming weeks we will be outlining our initial plans for 2007, and asking for your input on what we should be focusing on. Wherever we end up, be certain that it will include enhanced efforts to ensure that progressives master the new politics of our day, put to bed the era of conservative ascendancy, make globalization work for all Americas, finding a better way forward in the Middle East, pass comprehensive immigration reform, deploy the latest and best tools, raise the minimum wage, take advantage of the new Hispanic opportunity, as outlined in our cutting edge and powerful media campaigns in both English and Spanish, and fight for our modern and far-sighted Agenda, A Commitment to Hope and Progress.

Thank you for all that you’ve done for NDN and for the nation. We have accomplished much, together, over the years. But I feel, as you must too, that this is a very important and serious time, perhaps the most challenging time our nation has faced in generations. With your help, we will ensure that our community is doing everything it can to help our great nation meet the challenges of this century, and lead us all to a better tomorrow.

Tim Johnson

Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.  Like many, we wish him a speedy and successful recovery.

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