Gov. Gavin Newsom Joins Us To Talk Progress and Possibility, The State Of The Union, The 2024 Election, And Hopium’s 1st Birthday

We Had A Special Guest Join Our Monthly Hopium Paid Subscriber Gathering Last Night!!!!!!!!!!!


MAR 7, 2024

California Governor Gavin Newsom


It’s a big day. The State of the Union is tonight. The general election has begun. It is our community’s first birthday. And last night, to discuss all this our paid subscribers were joined by Governor Gavin Newsom, an old friend and active member of the Hopium community. A recording of our discussion is above, and following our talk I offer some thoughts on where we are now in the 2024 election. It was really an honor to have the Governor come to help us celebrate our first birthday together. Hope you can watch. He is a very important leader for all of us now, and I am proud to have been a supporter of his for more than two decades. All sorts of Hopium in this video! 

The State Of The Union is Tonight at 9pm EST – Here are talking points the White House released this morning. Very much looking forward to the speech tonight, and taking this message to the American people with all of you in the months ahead: 

…..2024 SOTU TOPLINE: In his State of the Union address, President Biden will speak directly to the American people about the historic progress we’ve made. He will discuss the clear contrast between competing visions for the country and competing forces in the battle for the soul of our nation. He will detail his vision for the future and that he believes there is nothing beyond the capacity of the American people.

  1. President Biden will outline how he is building an economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down — that means investing in all of America to make sure the middle class has a fair shot and we leave no one behind.
  2. He will detail how rights and freedoms are at stake and that he will defend democracy and freedom at home and abroad:
    1. He will call on all Americans – regardless of political party – to defend democracy.
    2. He will say we must restore the rights of Roe v. Wade and pass voting rights into law
  3. The President will talk about the future we can build together —– where the middle class comes first and the biggest corporations and wealthy no longer get all the breaks.
  4. And, he’ll make clear that if any Republican tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or cut Social Security and Medicare: he will stop them.
  5. He will outline how we have to finish the job with other key priorities that make life better for every American and keep communities safe.
  6. The President will reiterate that he stands with Ukraine against Putin’s war of aggression. And he will renew his commitment to more humanitarian aid and a hostage deal that would result in an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks.
  7. He will talk about his bipartisan record —signing over 400 bipartisan bills – on gun safety, health care for veterans, and more. He will outline new proposals to build on that progress and unite the country.
  8. The President will remind the country that America is a story of progress, possibilities, and resilience. And that together we can deliver a future for the American people.

The Biden-Harris General Election Campaign Has Begun – From Michael Scherer in the Washington Post today, “Biden’s campaign aims to seize March for campaign push”

The campaign now says Biden’s State of the Union appearance in front of Congress on Thursday will mark the beginning of the end of the waiting game. The Biden campaign and broader network of supporting groups are poised to turn on their machine over the coming months, while Trump pivots to the general election. The mission: to demonstrate Biden’s momentum and tamp down party anxiety before the August convention in Chicago.

New swing-state advertising from the campaign and outside groups is expected in the coming weeks and months. State leadership teams in the eight battleground states, including newly added New Hampshire, have been ordered to begin engaging with volunteers and contacting voters through what the campaign has started to call a “March month of action.” Offices will open. Coalition groups will launch. Members of Congress will be dispatched. Administration travel, including by Biden, will be robust, according to people involved in the planning.

“We leave this quarter with an operation built to scale so that we can dial up aggressive communications programs across all of those paths to victory,” said Dan Kanninen, the Biden campaign’s battleground states director. “There will be a lot of voter conversations and volunteer conversations.”

A team of senior Biden advisers, including campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon and co-chair Mitch Landrieu, briefed members of Congress on the plan last month during a Democratic caucus retreat. One of their messages was a plan to “lean heavily into voter and volunteer engagement for March, which the campaign sees as a key moment for engagement and mobilization,” according to a Biden campaign briefing document. Members of Congress were asked to chip in with swing-state office openings, yard sign distribution and volunteer recruitment drives.

The push comes as the Biden campaign — long criticized for its deliberate pace — finds itself with an enormous financial and organizational advantage over Trump, who is expected to lock down the Republican nomination later this month. The Biden campaign staged a similarly more aggressive push at several points last year as well, launching advertising in August and then more directly attacking Trump later in the year.

Here we go everyone!  Make sure you have donated and joined the Biden-Harris campaign. The campaign has begun in earnest, and we all need to be on board. Beating Donald Trump is job 1 for all of us this year. It’s why we are here at Hopium. 

The Post story goes on to detail the actions various groups are taking, and ends this way (way to go everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!): 

Democrats also enjoy a still vibrant network of grass-roots groups around the country, which have remained engaged since 2018 and are largely able to coordinate with the Biden campaign. Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, spoke last week to Swing Left, a network of volunteers. She invited people to join the campaign’s “I’m On Board” organizing effort.

“As we jump into March, as we come out of Super Tuesday and the president’s State of the Union in the next couple of weeks, it will be a real opportunity to just remind voters of just what that choice, how important and how critical this election is, and really what everyone can do to get on board,” Rodriguez told the group on Feb. 29.

While Biden has lacked the movement-like charisma of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, Democrats continue to enjoy significant state and local organizing muscle, largely through loose national networks of local progressive groups. The campaign of Rep. Tom Suozzi, who recently outperformed polling by about eight points in a special election on New York’s Long Island, credits these groups with giving him a huge advantage, as have other campaigns in special elections in recent years.

Suozzi’s campaign team said about a third of the door-knocking, letter-writing and phone-calling that took place in that race came from groups outside the district, such as the Massachusetts-based Swing Blue Alliance. Democrats widely believe that the opposition to Trump will solidify, powering volunteer efforts despite the misgivings about Biden’s candidacy.

“In the past few years, fear of MAGA has helped fuel the building of the most powerful grassroots machine the Democratic Party has ever had,” Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist who now works with local activist groups, said in a statement. “Their money and hard work will ensure the Biden campaign is the biggest and strongest Presidential campaign Democrats have ever run.”

Hopium Chronicles Turns 1 Today! – I launched this thing a year ago with this welcome post, and my get to 55 memo. I’m so proud of what we’ve done together, the community we’ve built. Here’s what I wrote last March: 

Though I’ve been in politics for a long time, my journey fighting the “red wave” over the past year changed my understanding of the work that needs to get done to defeat MAGA, tell our inspiring story more effectively, and ensure that freedom and democracy prevail.

Basically I came to understand that our politics was changing and I had to change with it. It led me to conclude that my old organization, NDN, which I founded back in 1996, was no longer the right vehicle for me. It did a lot of good over a long period of time, and we built a remarkable community there. As I discuss in my recent interview with Ron Brownstein in the Atlantic, I feel like we are entering a new political era in America, one that requires new strategies and approaches. NDN was built for a different era, and it had a different mission. I needed to do something new, organize my work in new ways. So here I am. With all of you.

I am calling it Hopium Chronicles because I want this to be a journey guided by hope and optimism, of belief in ourselves, in love of country and a clear understanding of the nature of the conflict we are in. I have become convinced that part of Greater MAGA’s strategy is to intentionally poison our discourse with negative sentiment every day. They want us to feel bad about America, our democracy, our leaders, our institutions, our success, each other, ourselves. We cannot let them do that any more. While they talk American down every day, we need to talk it up. While they spread lies, we respond with truth and data. Hopium is a rejection of the darkness they are trying to spread. It is a way of standing up for our great country and its remarkable people. It is the key to how we win.

I will be having more to say about year 2 of Hopium in the coming days, and in our broader Hopium-wide gathering next Wednesday. If you want to mark our anniversary by becoming a paid subscriber you can do so here. Your financial support allows me to do this work, our community to grow and it keeps the Hopium flowing! Thank you to all of you who have been of this spirited experiment so far. We’ve done a lot of good together but as all know, our most important work lies ahead. 

Let’s Do More, Worry Less – Here at Hopium we strive to channel all this worry and anxiety we have about our current moment into concrete action – do more, worry less – as we say here. Here are a few things you do today, right now: 

Donate to and join the Biden-Harris campaign – This is very important. The general election has begun and it’s time to get on board the Biden-Harris train. Please donate whatever amount you can – $5, $10 – just to get started.

Our community has already raised over $116,000 for Biden Harris – thank you!

Make an early investment in North Carolina – North Carolina is our most important 2024 expansion state. Please consider donating today. For more on why I think North Carolina is so important watch my interview with Anderson Clayton, the dynamic new NC Democratic Party Chair.

Our community has already raised $84,000 for this critical battleground – thank you all!

Help Ruben Gallego Win Arizona – Yesterday I endorsed Ruben Gallego in his race to become the next Senator in Arizona. The polls are encouraging there, and this is a very critical 2024 battleground state – must win Biden-Harris state, must win Senate, two House pick up opportunities (and maybe the state house too). Because Senator Sinema stayed in for so long, Ruben is a bit behind where he should be financially and organizationally, and needs our help today.  Please donate today, and I will be posting some volunteer opportunities in the coming days. 

Spread Hopium – Encourage people in your networks to become a Hopium subscriber. Our goal is to get to 50,000 subscribers by March 31st (we’re at 46,000 today!). With your help, we can hit our goal, grow our community, and bring the upbeat, data-filled analysis here to more and more people. You can also become a paid subscriber which helps us grow here

My New Republic Essay, “4 Things Biden Should Do Now” – I contributed an essay to a recent pre-State Of The Union package of essays in the New Republic. My essay made 4 recommendations to the big guy. Here are the two regarding ways his argument and agenda can evolve in the coming months: 

Anchor the Second Term Around Countering Climate Change and the Fight for Democracy.

If the primary job of the first term was about successfully getting America to the other side of Covid, the second term should be about mobilizing unprecedented resources around tackling the next two existential challenges of our time–countering climate change and accelerating the energy transition from fossil fuels, and ensuring that freedom and democracy prevail here in the United States and everywhere.

The president should talk directly and forcefully to the American people about the existential nature of these dual challenges, particularly the rise of what is perhaps the most serious threat we’ve ever seen to the American-led, rules-based order; and he should prepare Americans for what could be years or even decades of hot and cold conflict with authoritarians at home and abroad. The president began that process this year with his compelling speechnear Valley Forge in early January.

As part that mobilization, we will need to keep our economy strong and prosperous, persistently proving that democratic capitalism remains the best system for human advancement; develop a long overdue national strategy to restore integrity to our daily discourse, making it far harder for authoritarian forces to manipulate and control speech in open societies; build greater government-wide institutional capacity to advance pro-democracy initiatives here and across the world; and be direct in asking the American people, as President Kennedy once did, to become active partners in ensuring we prevail in these deeply consequential struggles in the coming decades.

Offer a Big Reform/Clean Up Washington Agenda, and a Strategy to Raise Life Expectancy.

The president should commit to making progress in at least two other areas during his second term—cleaning up a city and a democracy that have been weakened by corruption and illiberalism of all kinds, and raising American life expectancy so it is again at the level of peer nations’.

I think Joe Biden should promise to clean up the city he has so long been a part of. Among the things we can tackle are the influence of foreign money, the need to raise ethical standards at the Supreme Court, eliminating the debt ceiling and the ability to shut down the government, and the wild abuse of Senate holds on nominations. Perhaps Biden could set up a commission to make broader recommendations on how to modernize and reform a city desperately in need of it.

The president faces a similar opportunity to address an unacceptable decline in American life expectancy in recent years. Life expectancy continues to decline, and we’ve fallen behind peer nations. We should use this as a sign that a new emphasis on the health and well-being of Americans is needed, and the president should commit to reversing this decline in his second term. All ideas need to be on the table—better mental health and addiction recovery programs, more aggressive steps to stop the flow of foreign drugs into the country, better gun laws, the restoration of women’s reproductive freedom and addressing unacceptable levels of maternal mortality, fighting to restore trust in vaccines and the broader concept of public health.

Joe Biden has largely risen to the challenges presented to him and followed through on the promises he made in 2020. Now he has two more important challenges he must meet—build a campaign that can go big, unleash the patriotism and love of country that is driving Democratic politics today and make 2024 a clear repudiation of MAGA; and give us a second term that ensures that the opportunities we’ve all had are there for our kids and grandkids. As successful as he has been, it is possible that Joe Biden’s most important work still lies ahead of him.

You can read the rest of my essay here, and feedback is encouraged. Be sure to make plans to watch The State Of The Union tonight. As we discussed Monday, start getting ready to be part of the team that sells Joe Biden’s message to our friends, our networks, everyone we can in the days to come. We have a very strong case for make this year, and we need to all work as hard as we can to make it in the months ahead. 

Keep working hard all, and light a candle for Hopium’s first birthday. It’s a been a wonderful ride so far, and I am proud to be in the fight with all of you – Simon

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