Establishing long term goals for America
The Democratic party needs a product to sell to its voter base. That product
is a set of goals that the party is committed to, much like the Republicans had
a "Contract with America." This is possible to do; the Republicans
have done it, but the Democrats have not (update: Nancy Pelosi/George Miller is
starting now to drive this process on the House side).
More precisely, what is needed is a "strategic plan for America": a set of vision statements, long-term goals, a
set of credible strategies that can achieve those goals, and commitment from the
leadership and Members to act in a manner that is consistent with and in support
of the goals.
I'm not asking you to guarantee you will achieve all the goals you are
committed to. I'm not asking even that you get a certain number of members to
commit to the goals. I'm only asking you to commit to doing those four
things that are totally
within your control, namely,
- deciding which topic areas will be covered, by when, and what they are. I've
suggested 10 area below. It could be any number of area. The important thing
is to decide which areas are important to establish a long-term plan for.
- enlisting Members of Congress in creating a one page strategic plan for each area in
the previous step which has the vision, key goal, and top strategies (see
- personally taking actions consistent with
supporting the plan, e.g., voting and introducing legislation that is consistent
with the plan. Only in rare cases would deviation from the support
commitment be allowed, e.g., where 60% or more of your constituents are
opposed to a key element of a plan or clearly where the best long term
interests of your constituents would be jeopardized
- trying hard to enlist more and more members to
supporting the plan.
The plan should meet these criteria:
- There is a vision, key goal, and top strategies plan for each major area
(e.g., education, energy, environment, etc) important to America. If you
have more than one goal in certain areas, you must designate which goal is
the "core" goal that has priority in the event of a conflict.
- In each area, the vision, goal(s), and strategies are based on what
America needs, not what the polls say Americans want
- The goals are bold, long-term (5 to 10 year horizon) goals that are both
important and possible (under reasonable assumptions) to achieve.
- Each goal is measurable. They typically will have a number and a date.
- Independent, third party experts are able to validate that the strategies
are realistic and both necessary and sufficient to achieve the goals.
- The goals are formulated by considering input from any Member who wishes
to provide input, as well as input from experts in the subject area.
- The final plan has the public commitment of at least 10 Democrats in
For me to be committed to supporting the Democratic party I need a party that
is committed to accomplishing something. In addition, voters
will know exactly what you stand for and most importantly, the key goals that you are committed to
trying to accomplish if we elect you to office. Note that you are not
committing to accomplishing those goals; you are only committed to doing
whatever you can to accomplish the goals. I believe, and I hope that you do as
well, that a responsible long-term
comprehensive plan that Members are truly committed to is absolutely critical
for winning elections, achieving party unity, having a message that is heard,
and for achieving meaningful long-term progress on issues that are important to
That plan is the basis
for party unity because you cannot have unity without shared goals. That party
unity allows you to create a message with echo effect that will be heard because
you cannot have a message if you do not have goals and commitment. Those
messages will energize your voter base and enable you to raise money and win
elections and achieve your goals to provide a better future for all Americans.
Process requirements for vision, goal, strategies
- Consider input from all members who wish to contribute as well as
independent experts before any final decisions are made
- Require validation of the strategies by independent 3rd party experts
- End with a clear public commitment by members to the visions, goals,
- Ten areas:
Overall Democratic mission/Vision
- Assign out the topics, one per senior Member of Congress. So you have 10 different
influential Members who are now vested in the process and owners of a topic area.
- Show them an example of the "1 page strategic plan summary" you expect from the process.
That way, it is very clear what you expect as the outcome. While the amount
of supplementary documentation to justify and explain the plan can be of any
length and format, the 1 page summary page should all have the same format:
vision, top goal, key strategies.
- Provide a written suggested process for them to follow to develop the
plan. For example, the process could recommend reaching closure at progressively lower levels, e.g., get
everyone agreed on the vision before working on the goal; get everyone
agreed on the goal before working on the key strategies, and so on. You
could document the process used for the Democratic response to Bush's
economic stimulus proposal, for example.
A sample summary page (for energy)
Ensure an affordable, reliable supply of energy future from efficient
and renewable technologies.
Reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 25 percent by 2020
vehicle fuel-economy requirements to 40 mpg combined by 2020
broad tax credits for the most fuel-efficient vehicles; pay for these
incentives either by fees on gas guzzlers or by rolling back Bush tax cuts
for wealthiest Americans
a package of financial incentives to encourage automobile manufacturers to
accelerate production of efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles
the federal fleet to double its average fuel economy by 2010
in a significant gas tax increase (at least $10/barrel) over ten years;
return the revenue to the economy in a way that stimulates growth and
productivity (e.g., lowering payroll taxes).
an aggressive timetable to commercialize hydrogen fuel cells
major federal R&D funding for hydrogen production from renewable
energy sources, as well as for fuel cell materials, low-cost manufacturing
processes, testing and evaluation
investment tax credit for hydrogen infrastructure installations
increasing numbers of fuel cell vehicles in the federal fleet and the use
of stationary fuel cells to fulfill energy requirements at government
significant financial incentives for early purchasers, declining over time
as sales volumes increase
barriers to commercialization
uniform national connection standards, and promptly develop supportive,
harmonized codes standards and recommended practices
code officials and state and local regulators
nondiscriminatory practices in siting and using fuel cell power plants,
vehicles and hydrogen fueling facilities
that might be supportive of this effort
Related links to goals
Examples of the type of goals we need:
Goal documents for Energy, Environment, etc: