07. November 2004 · Comments Off on “That Vision Thing” · Categories: General, Politics

Interesting article in the NYT (registration req), by Andrei Cherny, Kerry’s Speech-writer. I found it by following a link in one of the 96 comments that have sprouted on The Backseat Philosopher’s post to his fellow democrats (mentioned earlier in this blog). Here are some small snippets of his thoughts.

Any time Democrats spend in the coming weeks discussing the merits of our past candidates’ personalities or their campaigns’ personnel will be time wasted.

The overarching problem Democrats have today is the lack of a clear sense of what the party stands for. For years this has been a source of annoyance for bloggers and grass-roots activists. And in my time working for Al Gore and John Kerry, it certainly left me feeling hamstrung.

Democrats have a collection of policy positions that are sensible and right. John Kerry made this very clear. What we don’t have, and what we sorely need, is what President George H. W. Bush so famously derided as “the vision thing” – a worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.

For most of the 20th century, Democrats had a bold vision: we would use government programs to make Americans’ lives more stable and secure. In 1996, President Clinton told us this age had passed, that “the era of big government is over.” He was right – the world had changed. But the party has not answered the basic question: What comes next?

and from near the end….

I don’t pretend to know exactly what the party should do now. But I do know that we better start answering some important questions. What is our economic vision in a globalized world? How do we respond to the desire of many Americans to have choices and decision-making power of their own? How can we speak to Americans’ moral and spiritual yearnings? How can our national security vision be broader than just a critique of the Republican’s foreign policy? If we sweep this debate under the rug, four years from now another set of people around another conference table will be struggling with the same issues we did. And America cannot afford the same result.

Cherny’s question “What comes next?” reminds me of the conversations taking place after the fall of the Soviet Union. When the Berlin Wall came down, when the Soviet Union fragmented back into separate countries, there was much discussion about what the world would look like and be like now that the Cold War had ended.

Maybe Republicans (and all other parties) should be asking themselves that question, as well? What comes next? Where do we go from here? What do we want for America, and for the world we live in? And how do we get there from here?

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