Every four years, NDI has the honor of hosting the International Leaders Forum (ILF), a week-long series of non-partisan events for international leaders organized around the Democratic National Convention. The Forum carries on NDI’s tradition of providing analysis on the current state of U.S. politics and on the foreign policy challenges that the next administration will face.
Politics in the United States is not just about the American people. It is also about world politics and, as a result, the international community has a keen interest in observing U.S. politics and policies. Since 1984, at the request of the Democratic National Committee, NDI has hosted hundreds of international leaders at ILF. This year’s guests included current and former heads of government, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and leaders of political parties from over 100 countries who are eager to learn about and observe the U.S. political process.
Throughout the week, ILF participants heard from top tier panelists, including Democratic and Republican pollsters, Members of Congress, political commentators, leading journalists and academics. Among those presenting were:
- Kate Stanford, Director, YouTube Ads Marketing
- Adam Sharp, Head of News, Government and Elections, Twitter
- Frank Fahrenkopf, Co-Chair, Presidential Debates Commission; former GOP Chair
- Peter Hart and Jim Hobart, Democratic and Republican pollsters, NBC News/Wall Street Journal
- Kathleen Parker, Pulitzer Prize-winning nationally syndicated columnist, The Washington Post
- Van Jones, CNN Political Contributor
- Danny Diaz, Jeb Bush 2016 Campaign Manager
- Senator Chris Coons, Closing Luncheon keynote speaker
- Amy Walter, National Editor, The Cook Political Report
- Representative Barbara Lee, DNC Platform Committee
- Eric Garcetti, Mayor, Los Angeles
- Kristen Soltis Anderson, Co-founder, Echelon Insights
- Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today
- Representative Nita Lowey, Geraldine Ferraro Women in Politics Luncheon keynote speaker
- Susan Glasser, Editor, Politico
- Campbell Brown, former anchor, NBC News and CNN
- Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, Co-Authors, “It’s Even Worse Than it Looks”
- Alex Wagner, Senior Editor, The Atlantic, former host, MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner”
- Gary Segura and Matt Barreto, Co-Founders, Latino Decisions polling research
- Cornell Belcher, President, Brilliant Corners Research
- Jonathan Capehart, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, MSNBC Contributor
- Howard Dean, NDI Board Member, 2004 Presidential Candidate, former DNC Chair
- Vin Weber, former Member of Congress, Co-Chair, Romney, Dole, Bush campaigns
"What's Going on in America: Important Trends" panel included, Susan Page of USA Today as moderator, CNNCommentator Van Jones, Washington Post Political Correspondent Karen Tumulty, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and pollsters Stan Greenberg and Gary Segura.
As a result of attending ILF, international leaders have returned home with a clearer understanding of the U.S. political process in this most unusual year. They received a deep dive analysis of the role of primaries, conventions and debates. They got an insider’s look into U.S. advertising campaigns, including an analysis of current themes and cutting-edge metrics. During one panel, NDI Board member Marc Nathanson demonstrated the stark contrast between ads he created in the 1970s and today’s micro-targeted online YouTube advertisements.
A panel on the “emerging electorate” presented the latest trends in polling from both Republican and Democratic pollsters, and provided international attendees with an overview of what to expect in Hispanic, millennial and non-college educated voter turnout. Another panel discussed how political gridlock and legislative dysfunction have infected the presidential campaign and continues to erode political discourse; it provided valuable insight into U.S. politics for ILF attendees.
"Impact of Social Media on the 2016 Campaign" panel sponsored by Facebook with Crystal Patterson as moderator, Adam Sharp form Twitter, and Jon Keegan, Visual Correspondent of The Wall Street Journal.
Participants also learned how social media can both open doors for information, but also create polarization as each voter chooses his or her own news sources based on political beliefs, friends and personal preferences. Amy Mitchell from Pew Research Center, the author of “Political Polarization and News Habits”, and Wall Street Journal correspondent Jon Keegan both shed light on this topic. Keegan’s Red Feed - Blue Feed analysis is a study of democratic and conservative media habits.
"Campaign 2016 in Ads and Anecdotes" panel featured Kate Stanford of YouTube Ads Marketing, Mike Franz, Co-Director of Wesleyan Media Project, and NDI Vice Chair Marc Nathanson.
At the end of each day, ILF attendees attended the Democratic National Convention proceedings to witness the historic selection of Hillary Clinton as the first woman to win a major party’s nomination to be a candidate for President of the United States.
Boarding their planes home after an exhausting week that often kept them up past midnight, ILF 2016 participants left with invaluable insight into the complexities of the U.S.electoral system and the possible outcomes of this year’s elections. The stakes in this election cycle are very high, not only for U.S. citizens, but for the entire world.
Madeleine Albright and women participants join together at ILF.
Published August 2, 2016