Should the Democrats Create a “Contract with America”?

contract1.jpgA 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.

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7 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Democrats don’t have a Contract With America for two main reasons. First, Democrats are too busy pandering to insular special interests to know what they want. Second, mainstream America doesn’t want what the Democrats would likely be agreeing to. The main Democratic ideals – more abortion, more gun control, more affirmative action, more welfare – aren’t things that resonate with voters.

    Of course, someone will likely say: “Mike, you’re wrong! That’s not what Democrats want!” To which I’ll answer with this pre-emptive challenge: Well, then, what is it that the Democrats want? After all, if the numerous (and intelligent) liberals reading this can’t come up with a list that they all can agree upon, then how can anyone expect the Democratic party to do so?

  2. Simon says:

    Well, then, what is it that the Democrats want?

    Impeachment procedings against George Bush. Of course, it’s kind of hard to win an election when your platform is “we think a majority of you guys picked wrong last year. Try again.”

  3. Mike says:

    Well, Dan, the Dems will have to think of something better than fat jokes

  4. gr says:

    My latest idea is for Democrats to start calling the debt/deficit the ‘republican birth tax.’ Its the tax you owe just for being born, the liabilities of the past you have to pay without having gotten any benfit. Sums up how we’re screwing over the next generation.

    Anyone have a direct line to the Center for American Progress?

  5. navin says:

    The Dems do need to get coherent core message together. They could transform “progressive tax”, “pro-minority” and “pro-choice” quite easily into Rovish/Newtish labels that resonante with the real middle and capitalize on recent unpopularity – “financial opportunity and security for the rest of us”, “fair share taxes” and “personal freedom” could encompass traditional Dem economic and social policies. Terrorism/defense is tougher, but perception of FEMA and Homeland Security are bad enough that something like “security at home” could cover reforming those and limiting foreign intervention.

  6. Doesn'tMakeSense says:

    Republicans stand for what again? Giving government jobs to friends and spending beyond their means?

  7. Clint says:

    As presently constituted, the Democratic Party can’t possibly do this.

    The Democratic Party is cobbled together from groups of voters who have not only different values but conflicting values. Consider same-sex marriage. In some communities, the Democratic Party advertises itself as the proponents of same-sex marriage and a fully integrated military, while in other critical core groups within the party (black voters and FDR Democrats) would be horrified by that position.