Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
With Democrats, Things Get Better
Come watch our last presentation recorded Thursday, Oct 19th
With Democrats Things Get Better is a 30-minute data-filled look at American politics from 1989 to present day. Distilled from my 3 decades of political work, it tells a simple but powerful story - that when Democrats are in the White House, things get better in America. The Republicans, on the other hand, have repeatedly failed to do their part.
Here’s a link to our last recording from October 19th, 2023, and a link to some of the top slides from the deck itself. The next live presentation will be Thursday, October 19th at 1pm EST. You can RSVP here.
Background on With Democrats Things Get Better
The new House Republican leadership has made it clear that we are going to be having a big economic and fiscal debate this year. To help the center-left family prepare for that debate (and win it!) I’ve updating my influential With Democrats Things Get Better presentation so it speaks to our current moment. With Dems takes a deep dive into decades of data and finds when Democrats have been in power, things have repeatedly gotten better. We've seen growth, lots of jobs created, lower deficits, and progress. With Republicans we've seen something very different. The last 3 Republican Presidents have brought recession, spiraling deficits, decline.
As we often say this story - repeated Dem economic success, repeated R economic failure - remains the most important, least understood story in American politics today. It is a story that needs to be told in 2023, a story the center-left needs to be very very loud about.
To learn more about the big arguments in With Dems start with our recent analysis, A Smokin’ Jobs Report and an essay, The Case for Optimism, Rejecting Trump's Poisonous Pessimism, which was the basis of the earliest version of this presentation. We have also frequently written over the past few years about the need for the center-left to get far more intentional about winning the economic argument with MAGA and the Republicans. Given our repeated strong performance we shouldn't be losing the economic argument to these guys.
We also strongly recommend reviewing David Leonhardt’s NYT essay "Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?" It makes very similar arguments and has lots of terrific and useful charts. Mike Tomasky’s rave review of With Dems in the Daily Beast is a great read. Mike writes:
Simon Rosenberg heads NDN, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization. He has spent years advising Democrats, presidents included, on how to talk about economic matters. Not long ago, he put together a little PowerPoint deck. It is fascinating. You need to know about it. The entire country needs to know about it.
We agree of course!
The deck has been revamped to include a new, longer section on the strong economic recovery under President Biden. Some of the key stats from that section:
GDP growth 3x Trump, 7x as many Biden jobs as last 3 GOP Presidents combined
US has had the best economic recovery from COVID in the G7
Inflation now down to pre-pandemic levels
Lowest unemployment rate in 54 years
Lowest poverty/uninsured rates ever
Very elevated wage gains/new business starts
Almost 2 job openings per unemployed person, a record
Real earnings up in 2022, trade deficit/deficit down
Historic investments in our future prosperity (infrastructure, CHIPs, climate, health care)
Domestic oil production on track to set records in 2023
Finally, our understanding of the American economy and the role of inflation was heavily influenced over the past year by the writings of our long time collaborator, Rob Shapiro. Rob wrote in January that employment was booming at historic levels, in May that inflation was having little effect on people’s incomes, in July that pundits’ talk about recession was flat-out wrong, in August that Americans were clearly better economically off under Biden, and in October that Democrats should tout their economic record. Like the red wave, we think too many commentators in 2022 bought into the "inflation is killing the Democrats" narrative far too easily.
You can find even more background below. Thanks for your interest, and we hope to catch you at one of our upcoming presentations!
Background on With Dems
The impetus for With Dems comes from the big argument Donald Trump started making in his 2016 campaign - that this new age of globalization ushered in after the end of the Cold War had weakened the United States, leading to his infamous phrase "American carnage."
I’ve always found that argument misguided and wrong. When Trump came to office the US had a very low unemployment rate, record high stock market, declining deficits and rapidly growing incomes for American workers. The uninsured rate was the lowest of the modern era, crime rates were half of what they'd been, and the flow of undocumented immigrants to the border was a fraction of what it was in the Bush and Clinton years. The world was largely at peace, a great deal of the world was modernizing and growing, and a global effort to address climate change was picking up steam. While things weren't perfect, what President Trump inherited when he came to office were some of the best overall geopolitical, societal and economic conditions America had seen in decades. It is something I discuss at length in this Medium essay.
So over the past few years we've been talking about just how wrong former President Trump was about this great country and its achievements. It has driven a great deal of our research and advocacy and the creation of an earlier version of With Democrats Things Get Better called Patriotism and Optimism. In the spring of 2020 we retooled Patriotism and Optimism into our new presentation, With Dems, which is a data filled look at America during this age of globalization, and how each party has navigated its challenges while in the White House.
Central to this presentation is the notion that the Democratic and Republican parties aren't mirror images of one another, but rather that they have followed separate, organic pathways in a big, diverse country like the US. The result of this differing evolution is that the Democrats have been a remarkably successful governing party since 1989, while the Republicans have presided over three straight recessions, historic foreign policy failures, and a deeply dangerous embrace of illiberalism.
One thing we discuss in With Democrats is how Americans who have grown up in this post-1989 era - those under 45 - understand this divergence and view the parties very differently as a result. In 2018, voters under 45 voted for Democrats by a margin of 25 points, whereas in the seven elections from 1992 to 2004, voters under 45 (who had grown up in a fundamentally different political era) voted for Democrats by an average margin of just 0.3 points. This trend has continued in both the 2020 and 2022 elections.
We hope you enjoy this new project and do note that one of our existing programmatic areas, Countering Illiberalism's Rise, has some overlap with the work you will find here. Simon's 2020 essay, "Build Back Better/Reconstruir Mejor - Joe Biden's Historic Opportunity" in the Mexican-based intellectual journal Letras Libres, addressed many of the themes we explore in With Dems and offered some thoughts on the big challenges facing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. A passage: "A President Biden would have an extraordinary opportunity to do what he calls “build back better” here in America, and around the world. It would be wise for Biden to view this moment as the beginning of a new era, a generational-long project to reset America and the world after a collective trauma. Perhaps the most analogous moment in our history would be the years after World War II in which new institutions were established around “a new vision for humankind."
We hope you enjoy With Dems, and if you do, please invite others to come experience it too. It is free and open to the public – all are welcome.
Keep working hard all - Simon