A common criticism of the Democrats is that although they are scoring some points when criticizing the Republicans, they are coming up empty in stating what they really stand for. I believe that there is some truth to this criticism. What surprises me is how ineffective the Democrats have often been in rallying around a basic theory; in articulating how specific policies will best advance their goals; and in selling their theory to Americans.
Back in 1994, the Republicans created the “Contract with America,” a document that set forth a list of concrete legislative goals. Perhaps it is time for the Democrats to produce their own Contract with America. I think that doing so would force the Democrats to articulate and rally around a set of concrete policy proposals that provide a clear alternative to the Republicans.
For example, I think that the Democrats need to come up with a plan for addressing security issues. When the Democrats criticize the Bush Administration for its surveillance measures, they need to also propose how they would address security without infringing upon civil liberties or abusing power. For example, they should propose more concrete plans for getting better international cooperation, tracking down loose nukes, and devising surveillance programs that are carried out with judicial oversight within the legal parameters of FISA.