Cross-posted at The Huffington Post
Right before Election Day, I noted here that even if the Democrats won, there would still be much "work to do to better articulate what the Democratic Party stands for" so Dems can "offer their own governing vision and earn the broader mandate necessary to win election after election."
Today, a new Democratic Congress will be sworn-in. Next week, The First 100 Hours agenda, focusing on issues that command wide support, is the right initial step to build trust with the public.
After that, the need to articulate a clear vision will become increasingly urgent.
Without a vision that explains where Democrats want to take our country, conservatives will be able to distort the underlying motivation behind Democratic proposals, and promising ideas to tackle big problems will never get debated on their merits.
Several books were published this past fall to help Democrats paint a compelling vision that would rally the public behind their core principles.
At least three, including my own Wait! Don't Move To Canada!, offered a specific succinct vision.
From Tom Schaller's Whistling Past Dixie:
Democrats believe in a strong defense but a smart offense, a culture of investment, and the exercise of inalienable liberties.
From Gary Hart's The Courage Of Our Convictions:
First, we must create new international structures to manage this revolutionary world; second, we must reestablish the principles of community and justice at home; and, third, we must restore the ideal of the American republic.
And from Wait! Don't Move To Canada!:
...for a representative, responsive, responsible government; for fair and adequate taxation; [and] for fostering democracy and prosperity, not destruction and hypocrisy, across the globe...
All of our formulations are in the same vein: taking our government back from elite special interests and returning it to the people, and better engaging the world with strong alliances to defeat the terrorist threat.
Whether you consider yourself a Democrat, liberal, progressive, moderate, Green, independent or even a disillusioned Republican, that's a vision you can get behind.
It may not be necessary to mouth the exact words from the three of us.
But at minimum, it is necessary to start communicating, in your own words, the ideas behind our proposed vision statements.
Throughout 2007, if Washington Dems and grassroots citizens alike regularly root specific policy ideas in a compelling vision for America -- in our conversations, letters to the editor, blog posts, talk radio calls, and TV appearances -- we will build and broaden the Democratic mandate, and set the stage for even bigger, and desperately needed, change in 2008.