« If They Really Think This, The Election is Over... | Main | Are the Bush Ads Designed to Stir Controversy? »

Marc Miringoff

I'm still in shock at the news from last week that Marc Miringoff had passed away at 58. Marc's obituary hardly begins to capture his influence, not just on me, but on some recent political campaigns and thus the language of progressive politics. It's a little late, but I want to use this forum to call a little more attention to Marc's influence.

Marc's guiding vision was that "The Social Health of the Nation" was as measurable as the health of the economy, and that, if we accepted a few standard, agreed-upon measures of societal well-being, they could eventually become almost-automatic triggers to policy, so that an increase in the child poverty rate, for example, should force a response, much as a decline in the GDP forces the Fed to act. He was a master of complex demographic data, but what he aspired to do with it was to distill it down to a few essentials that would be easily understood and comparable over time.

Of course, plenty of earnest, well-trained social scientists have a command of data and believe that such facts should govern policy (a vision currently held up to mockery by the White House and Congress), and as the saying goes, that and $4.60 will get you a grande Frappucino. But Marc brought something else, or really, two other things: a deep understanding of public opinion and values, and a gift for the language of politics. He understood polling and the underlying views they represented probably as well as his brother, Lee Miringoff, director of the reliable and respected Marist Poll. In fact, whenever he talked about public opinion, he would add, "this is what my brother and I talk about for hours every Sunday night." That's a rare combination of skills and knowledge, and with the addition of being very funny and very caring, gave him a considerable advantage in trying to bring his ideas into the political process.

I first met Marc in 1999, when Bill Bradley asked him to put together a small group of intellectuals, writers, academics (actually, I'm not sure what the criteria for being included were) to develop some of the "big ideas" he wanted to put forward. I had a feeling this would be a futile exercise, because it wasn't built into the heart of the campaign and most of the other participants didn't know the candidate well, and that turned out to be true, but it was a pleasure to participate because of Marc. It didn't take longer than our first lunch together for us both to figure out that we had basically compatible visions, the same idea of what politics could aspire to.

After the Bradley campaign, Marc went on to play an important role as an advisor to Gore in 2000. Later, he helped organize a very interesting conference on developing an agenda for "compassionate government," sponsored by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation, which was the rare conference that should have been four days long instead of a day and a half. This year, he had some significant involvement in the Edwards campaign. He was modest about that role, but the "Two Nations" theme that Edwards developed was pure Miringoff. I have no doubt that Marc helped persuade the candidate and the campaign first, that this was the reality, and second, that there was a way to talk about it that was powerful and could reach average people who thought the country could do better. What he wanted from politics was not influence, but to hear this kind of language put to good use, so the Edwards campaign was gratifying to him as it was to me.

There are a lot of familiar types that one meets around a political campaign. But there aren't many Marc Miringoffs. The same is true of academia. Although he was not that well known, Marc's absence in public life, apart from the loss to his family and friends, will be felt in ways that can't be imagined.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on March 16, 2004 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Marc Miringoff:

» Nuggets' Hodge Thankful, But Still Sidelined from on Monday, April
POST writes, Denver Nuggets rookie Julius Hodge catches a basketball as he watches the Nuggets practice in [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 29, 2006 4:15:13 PM

» POLITICS: Cameras Catch Congressman Being A Douchebag from reportedly took
from the U.S. Capitol to which Hastert was returning, making the motivations behind the [Read More]

Tracked on May 1, 2006 2:22:25 AM

» Not so hot Suns... from kind to the once
take advantage of a weaker opponent this time and lost 111-102.  Orlando has been playing well since Steve Francis [Read More]

Tracked on May 4, 2006 3:44:42 PM

» Skinhead Rampage Highlights Belgium's Race Anxiety from pressure as the
as the son of an anti-immigrant politician murders two innocent foreigners [Read More]

Tracked on May 18, 2006 12:43:27 AM

» Court: British Hacker Can Be Extradited to U.S from government computer
government computer networks -- including Army, Air Force, Navy and NASA systems. [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2006 5:13:10 PM

» New ESRI Instructional Series Podcast: ArcSDE Log File Management for Microsoft SQL Server from discussion focuses
focuses on the ArcSDE log file management options and ESRI recommendations for ArcGIS [Read More]

Tracked on May 27, 2006 5:06:52 AM

» WebPals from Full Catalog
Need some help with your search? Please click on How to search. ... Use the search criteria below to narrow your search. ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 5, 2006 7:55:08 PM

» How Hugo Chvez Has Primed the Gas Pump from leaders gather
leaders gather in Venezuela, the oil cartel hails the fiery leftist leader who has given it new muscle [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 6, 2006 1:51:10 PM

» EU Nations Implicated In Prison Probe from in a "spider's
14 European nations colluded with U.S. intelligence in a "spider's web" of secret flights and detention centers that violated international [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2006 9:13:28 AM

» Bobcats Audition Hopefuls from OBSERVER reports,
reports, Sunday was a Plan B kind of day for the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats hold the third pick in this month's [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 15, 2006 5:44:35 PM

» Report: Butler Signs Offer Sheet With Spurs from Butler is a restricted
Beck of the NEW YORK TIMES. The contract is believed to be worth about $7 million over three [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 3:30:20 PM

» An Easier Way to Detect Breast Cancer in Young Women from DA Approves New,
DA Approves New, Cheaper Digital Mammography System [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 31, 2006 10:06:27 AM

» Sheff waits on doc from he will visit
his injured left wrist on Monday, and he will visit with Dr. Charles Melone on Monday to find out when he'll be [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 1, 2006 9:48:02 AM

» Affiliate Marketing Intensive Enrolls 5,592 -- Reveals How to Make Money Online from Intensive and
within hours of being announced. Success Intensives producer, Harris [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 7, 2006 2:52:42 PM

» Cancer: The facts from he disease tends
he disease tends to affect older people - but can strike at any time. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 8, 2006 3:24:57 PM


It's double posted - so will comment here.

The Social Report is, indeed, a grand vision and interesting work - a clear and level headed attempt to answer the question of where we really are, and what we are doing. Others have trod down the same road but not with the larger sense of there needing to be a governing order.


Is from his report on the social health as applied to states.

- - -

Your other point, that it is not enough to do policy, one must persuade others of the meaning of that policy, is one that needs more careful attention. There are deep ideas, and those deep ideas show they are ready by finding eloquent expression. It may seem unfair that "we can't win because they have so much better a propaganda arm". But in a sense, it is deeply fair. The American people want to be governed by those whose ideals they can live - as Keynes might say, no policy can be any smarter than the people who run it - and until there is a distilled and eloquent means of conveying the essence of how an individual can live in the polity which a party would wish to build - they will not support it.

The deep ideas, and their eloquent expression, are both the challenges of this time and place for those of us who aspire to the term "liberal". It's a good life's work, and you are right to ask us to tip our hat to a man who set us on that road.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry | Mar 16, 2004 5:46:51 PM

Routenplaner Online
Online Routenplanung
karlsruhe-stadtplan Online Routenplaner Routenplanung Tourenplaner

Posted by: pete | Aug 28, 2004 8:30:15 PM