News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Big Picture
Daniel Schuman/Demand Progress

Failed legislation doesn't get Daniel Schuman down: "There's always next Congress."

Meet the reformer: Daniel Schuman of Demand Progress

Daniel Schuman is the policy director at Demand Progress, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on issues related to civil liberties, civil rights and government reform.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

Demand Progress is a progressive nonprofit focused on building a modern democracy. Our 2.5 million members are dedicated to fixing Congress, protecting our civil liberties, rooting out corruption, ensuring the ability to communicate freely online, and addressing undue corporate power.

Describe your very first civic engagement.

Accompanying my parents to vote.

What was your biggest professional triumph?

For years and years and years we had been pushing Congress — and the Library of Congress specifically — to publish the data behind its antiquated legislative information system, THOMAS. Library top management had successfully opposed these efforts and Congress was indifferent, but slowly we built up a constituency inside the legislative branch and we were about to have an amendment offered on the floor that likely would have succeeded. Suddenly, a deal was cut to avoid a scene and a task force was formed instead, with the idea that our proposal would go there to die. Instead, the task force brought together people from all across the legislative branch who not only realized the usefulness of this idea and endorsed it, but have continued to meet on a regular basis and push forward many reforms. We had aimed for a policy change and instead created a mechanism that changed the culture.

And your most disappointing setback?

I've watched my fair share of legislation make it to the finish line only to die or stall for unbelievable reasons. This is not uncommon — and there's always next Congress.

How does your identity influence the way you go about your work?

It gives me unfair credibility to advance my issues and I use it to push to make Congress more open and inclusive.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Everyone likes to be praised and no one likes to be criticized. Both are important.

Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry's.

Berry Toasted (strawberries and champagne).

West Wing or Veep?

Yes, Minister.

What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?

Push 'Ignore' when it warns me it's time to turn it off.

What is your deepest, darkest secret?

I've never been to the top of the Capitol, but always have wanted to go.

We’re all about the issues that have broken American democracy — and efforts to make governments work again for you, your family and your friends.
Washington Bureau/Getty Images

The House on Friday passed legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill would require advance approval of voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. Here President Lyndon Johnson shares one of the pens he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Passage of historic voting rights law takes a partisan turn

In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.

The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Keep reading... Show less
Big Picture

TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

Keep reading... Show less
News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

1952 Eisenhower Answers America

On TV, political ads are regulated – but online, anything goes

Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.

Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.

I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.

Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.

Keep reading... Show less
© Issue One. All rights reserved.