There is speculation from the Chicago Tribune Blog on whether or not President Bush was referring to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) when he said there are people currently conducting themselves as if they’ve already received the votes needed to validate their star status. During Wednesday's press conference, the President said:
And we've got good candidates running hard. And we're going to win. Now, I know that defies conventional wisdom here. I'm not suggesting anybody in this august crowd has determined the outcome of the election already, but they're running profiles on who this person is going to be running this office, or this one that's going to be -- magazines have got all kinds of new stars emerging when they haven't won the votes yet.
This seems to be an interesting critique, given the advice he gave to Senator Obama, which is noted in the Senator’s book, Audacity of Hope:
You've got a bright future. Very bright. But I've been in this town awhile and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention like you've been getting, people start gunnin' for ya. And it won't necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody'll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.
Its been an incredible week here at NDN. A wave of enthusiasm is breaking right now and I can feel it in the excitement here in Washington. Nowhere is that clearer than in the debate over immigration. Today's LA Times article "Immigration galvanizes Latino voters" is a validation of the argument we've been making at NDN for the past two years: engaging the Hispanic community and supporting comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do morally, legislatively and politically.
Just as progressives stand to gain from the work we've done reaching out to this community, conservatives are about to pay a serious political price. Treating immigration as one more wedge issue that can be used to divide Americans was a huge political miscalculation. Here is how the LA Times put it:
"There's been a civic awakening," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network, which has spent close to $2 million on Latino outreach for this election. Rosenberg points to in-house polls that show the immigration debate has made 54% of Latinos more likely to vote. "That's a significant shift," he said. "If Democrats make investments in this community, the benefits will be extraordinary."
At the same time, we've taken the fight to our opponents. Yesterday, NDN's Hispanic Strategy Center Senior Advisor Maria Cardona debated immigration with Patrick Buchanan on MSNBC. Not an easy task, but Maria more than held her own. And Wednesday, I was on NPR's Morning Edition discussing immigration reform and C-SPAN taking calls alongside the leader of an anti-immigration group.
Even David Brooks is agreeing with us. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then NDN's meta-narrative about the new politics is receiving a lot of flattery this week. Brooks' op-ed in the New York Times mirrors our own argument that conservatism as a governing philosophy is dead: "This election is a period, not a comma in political history."
Also this week, New Politics Institute Director Peter Leyden has been featured in MSNBC and on the front page of MYDD.com talking about how progressives can use Google and search technology to more effectively communicate our message. NPI's vision for a progressive movement that embraces the new technology and new tools is really taking off and changing how we practice politics.
At this critical moment we may not have time to catch our collective breath, but I hope you'll take a minute to enjoy the momentum that is building behind the NDN family and the entire progressive movement.
An inspiring article from the LA Times shows that giving back by becoming a citizen is a powerful thing no matter what. For Sona Babai, a 105-year-old Iranian native, the one thing she wanted was American citizenship. Why?
As a sign of gratitude to America for embracing her children, four of whom live here, and allowing their families to thrive as restaurateurs, business consultants, architects, engineers, dentists and other professionals.
The fourth oldest person ever to naturalize, Babai lived through some turbulent times. So she came to America to give her children a good education and as many opportunities as they could possibly have. And America seems to have done just that - enough so that she wanted to give back.
Babai said that "by becoming a citizen, I can show to the world that it is never too late to give back." Asked what she would do as a new citizen, Babai replied:
"I'm an American. I'm going to vote."
At a time when so many on the right are attempting to split the country over the issue of immigration, it is especially important to remember that embracing the opportunities which America has to offer is what brings us together in the end. Even if it's 105 years later.
If you haven't yet seen it, Simon just sent this out. Be sure to keep up with NDN's work on immigration reform.
-------------------------------------------------------------- After months of extreme rhetoric, millions of dollars of ads in all regions of the country attacking Democrats for being soft on immigration, and connecting Mexican immigrants to terrorists, it is now clear that the national Republican Party's strategy of criticizing Democrats' support for comprehensive immigration reform has failed.
Their base is still unhappy, as from their perspective not enough has been done to rid the nation of the "illegals;" there is no evidence that their attacks on Democrats have succeeded anywhere in the country; and they have seriously damaged their brand among Latinos, an act that may have permanently endangered their capacity to build a 21st century electoral majority.
In all my years in politics I'm not sure I've seen a greater misreading of an important national issue by Party leaders of either side. But this should come as no great surprise, as the people behind this momentous Republican strategic blunder are named Hastert, Reynolds and Sensenbrenner, a group not particularly noted these days for their political dexterity or advocacy of sound public policy.
The Republican effort to use immigration against the Democrats has failed because the plan the national Democratic Party is supporting presents a good solution to a vexing national problem, and has broad and deep support in both parties.
On our side, the coalition behind what is called Comprehensive Immigration Reform includes Bush, McCain and many other Republicans; the Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, most labor unions and immigrant advocacy groups; all 44 Senate Democrats and a strong majority of the Democrats in the House.
In a hyper-partisan era, this has been one of the most bi-partisan, "sensible center" initiatives put together in Washington, and simply did not fit their "wedge" strategy. This was simply the wrong fight to pick, and has only reinforced that the Republican Party is more concerned with their own internal politics than solving the important problems facing our country.
The Border Fence that was signed into law by the President today is just one further example. Wherever you come down on this issue, the Fence is seriously underfunded, would cover only a fraction of the border and will take years to build even if fully funded. As designed, it just isn't an important part of the solution. And, bluntly, can we really trust the people who botched the rebuilding of New Orleans and Iraq to manage the building of this thing anyway?
To track how the issue is playing out in races across America, visit Immigration 2006, a new coalition that we've helped build that will be working to make sure we have accurate data on how the immigration issue affected this year's election.
While the election is not over, and a great deal can happen in the final days, those in the NDN community should take great pride in what we have been part of this year. In the face of an extraordinary political assault, we have stood firm for a comprehensive and sound solution that will go a long way to fixing our broken immigration system. Comprehensive immigration reform is morally, politically and legislatively the right thing to do, and togther with many allies we have laid the groundwork for meaningful progress next year on one of the most important challenges facing the nation.
Vote For A Pay Raise, Por Favor NDN is continuing its Hispanic voter outreach effort this month by targeting two states with minimum wage increases on their ballots. Arizonans and Coloradans next month get to decide whether to give minimum wage earners a $1.60 and $1.70 raise, respectively; both measures also allow for annual revisions based on cost of living and inflation.
In the television spot running in both states, a woman whose husband has two jobs talks about the strain on her family. Her husband's rationale is that he is working overtime "for our kids," but "the sad irony is that, at the time he gets home, he doesn't even get the chance to see them awake."
The radio ad, set in a classroom, stars children telling their teacher about the various jobs their parents do. "My daddy works at the auto factory, teacher. And also at a toy factory," says little "Pedrito."
Congressional Democrats failed to get the first federal minimum wage increase in 10 years through before recess, and six states now have proposals on their ballots. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) surprised constituents in September when he signed a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $8 by 2008, making the state one of the most generous in the nation.
Can progressives win in the exurbs? Today NPI releases a new Fall 2006 edition of our groundbreaking exurban report that argues – yes, we can.
Writing immediately after the 2004 election, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an influential op-ed called “Take A Ride To Exurbia,” arguing that Conservatives were victorious because they won exurban voters: “the Republicans achieved huge turnout gains in exurbs .... [they] permeated those communities, and spread their message.”
But today our new report from NPI Fellow Ruy Teixeira shows Brooks is out of date: conservative exurban strongholds are breaking down, and the exurbs are up for grabs for progressives.
The Report, The Next Frontier: A New Study of Exurbia, shows why progressives can prosper as the exurbs become more diverse and less wealthy. It provides convincing evidence from a raft of recent polls that exurbans are today open to progressive messages and ideas.
There are three ways to absorb the report. First, you can check out the Highlights Version that just gives the executive summary and selected passages that are particularly relevant this fall. This includes an entirely new analysis with regional breakdowns of critical states like Ohio and Missouri.
Then you can read the full 34-page report, that includes all that highlighted material as well as a comprehensive analysis of the changing urban, suburban and exurban landscape of the 20th century that provides the foundation for some of today’s biggest political battles.
You can also watch our recently released video of Ruy Teixeira presenting a slide show version of the report at an event in Washington DC.
If progressives can take back the exurbs, we can also take back America. This report shows us the way. And you can help by reading it, passing it along and promoting it.
Today’s Financial Times writes that “President George W. Bush sought on Monday to change the subject from the deteriorating situation in Iraq by focusing on the strength of the US economy.” The President spoke to the media and gave a prediction about the November elections: “We're not going to lose anybody, and the reason why is the economy's strong.”
So President Bush and the Republicans want a debate on the economy. We say - Bring it on.
In the Bush era, our government has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars from foreign governments to fund its basic operations. The latest round of global trade talks have collapsed, the trade deficit has soared and the dollar has declined.
Meanwhile ordinary Americans have struggled to make ends meet, as jobs have been created at a far slower rate than in recent history, wages have stagnated, and median family incomes have fallen. The number of Americans without health insurance and those in poverty have risen, and the costs of college, health care and interest have climbed.
Bush's plan for economic success has not delivered on its promises. And the American people know it. Today’s Washington Post poll shows that 74% of Americans say their families are either treading water or falling behind under President Bush, even though the majority of respondents think the economy is in good shape.
Contrast this disappointing record with the record of progressives in the 1990s, a period that saw the longest sustained economic boom in American history. And unlike today, the economic expansion of the 1990s lifted all boats. Led by President Clinton, the budget deficit was turned into surplus, job growth was strong, the minimum wage was increased, taxes were cut for millions of American families, and wages grew in step with productivity.
And while the real median household income of American families declined by $1,669 in the first Bush term, the broad prosperity achieved in the Clinton years led to a median household incomes increase of $7,858. During the 1990s progressives delivered broadly shared economic prosperity, and we can do it again.
NDN recently released three reports that lay out a strong argument for new, progressive economic leadership.
Our major report on “The Bush Economic Record” presents a comprehensive comparison of the economy under President Bush and President Clinton.
Make sure to check out our video of a talk and multimedia slide show that gives an overview of the opportunity for a new politics in the decade ahead. We also have a whole section of written material that explains the context for this transformation.
And you can find more about the network we have built up since we started in May 2005, and the backgrounds of our fellows, who span the gamut from Joe Trippi to Jen Nix.
Please spread the word (and the links) to this rich resource for progressive organizations and candidates. It could make a difference this fall.
In an article from the Washington Times, the G.O.P. proves to us yet again that they'd rather play politics than solve the problem when it comes to immigration. This time, Congressional Republicans want President Bush to sign the bill authorizing construction of 700 miles of a double-wall fence along the U.S.-Mexico border at a grand ceremony, arguing that, if done at the right time, such imagery could help them in their re-elections. Imageryis all that matters. Ignoring the fact that some don't even know where the bill is, the article acknowledges Republicans' frustration towards President Bush who wants his approval to come in a more private setting. I wonder why.
Perhaps because he, like so many of us, supported comprehensive immigration reform. Or perhaps the President's views on the fence aren't the same as Congressional Republicans. Providing yet another glimpse into the White House's thinking, one Bush administration official commented on the fence, saying:
You talk to the members of Congress about the 700 miles, and there's not a single member who can give you a plausible explanation of how they arrived at 700 miles. We'll build every mile of fence that is useful and necessary to build, and if they tell us to build 700, we'll find a way to build 700 miles of fence, but let's not kid ourselves.
In closing, let's remember what the President told us Tuesday night as the U.S. population reached 300 million. "We welcome this milestone as further proof that the American Dream remains as bright and hopeful as ever." Too bad his deeds won't allow his words to have much longevity. Democrats, take note. We have a plan to ensure the American Dream. Let's stand up and be proud of it.
When the MIT Media Lab's One Laptop Per Child initiative was first announced, many groups (including NDN) understood its potential impact on educating the world's youth. Today's NY Times features an article on how the idea is becoming reality in Libya:
The government of Libya reached an agreement on Tuesday with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit United States group developing an inexpensive, educational laptop computer, with the goal of supplying machines to all 1.2 million Libyan schoolchildren by June 2008.
Nicholas Negroponte, brother of U.S. intelligence director John Negroponte, is Chairman of One Laptop Per Child and had this to say of the deal:
It is possible that Libya will become the first nation in the world where all school-age children are connected to the Internet through educational computers. “The U.S. and Singapore are not even close.
"Older politicians will have to get beyond their ideological blinders to recognize the opportunity waiting for any candidate or political party that can embrace both halves of the Millennial era civic ethos paradox."