I told him House Dems should use the two years instead to lay the groundwork for a new Democratic agenda. Bring in expert witnesses. Put new ideas on table. Frame the central issues boldly. Don't get caught up in arid policy-wonkdom.If Democrats really think that government is key to bring back the American middle class and recreate a society based on equality of all individuals before the law, freedom and creativity, then there must be a major education of what the government does that is worth the money to Americans and how it works. This is a major step in that direction.
For example, instead of framing basic economic question as whether to roll back Bush's tax cuts, make it how to recreate good jobs at good wages and rebuild the middle class. Consider ideas for doing this through trade policy, industrial policy, antitrust, publicly-financed research and development, and stronger trade unions.
Instead of framing central foreign-policy question as whether we should have invaded Iraq, make it how to partition Iraq into Shiite, Suni, and Kurdish zones while America gets out. Focus the national security debate on how to control loose nukes and fissile material, and secure American ports. Open direct negotiations with North Korea and Iran.
On energy and the environment, they should offer ideas for developing new non-fossil based energy industries in America, and how to ratify a realistic Kyoto accord.
Help the public understand how these are all related. Show why, for example, we'll never have a sane foreign policy unless we reduce our dependence on oil, how the creation of new alternative-energy industries can help create good jobs in America, why good jobs are essential to a reviving the middle class and saving the environment.
Most important, be positive. Avoid the blame game. Bush's shameful record is plain enough. Start the new record. Help America dream again.
Almost as important, it makes a real distinction between the Democrats and the Republicans who gain political power only by building fear in the voting populace and claiming that the only real power America has that is worth anything is its military power.
This could lead to a world in which every person has the opportunity to build a real future for themselves and their families, and do it by building things instead of destroying what others have which is what wars do. As we should all recognize now, no one has won anything from our invasion of Iraq which is worth what has been and continiues to be destroyed. The Hezbollah attack on Isreal that set off the war which has devestated Lebanon only maked that a lot more clear. Once again military forces have been unleashed, and everyone in the Middle East is a net loser.
Robert Reich's suggestion for the pending new leaders of the House of Representatives should be required to read his views.