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 example below)
  • 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 Congress

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 improving America.

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, strategies
  • Ten areas:

Overall Democratic mission/Vision
Political reform
National security
Social security
Foreign policy
Health care

Suggested approach

  • 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


  • Raise vehicle fuel-economy requirements to 40 mpg combined by 2020
  • Provide 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
  • Create a package of financial incentives to encourage automobile manufacturers to accelerate production of efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles
    • Accelerated depreciation
    • R&D subsidies
    • Investment loans
  • Require the federal fleet to double its average fuel economy by 2010
  • Phase 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).
  • Establish an aggressive timetable to commercialize hydrogen fuel cells
    • Provide 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
    • Institute investment tax credit for hydrogen infrastructure installations
    • Require increasing numbers of fuel cell vehicles in the federal fleet and the use of stationary fuel cells to fulfill energy requirements at government facilities
    • Provide significant financial incentives for early purchasers, declining over time as sales volumes increase
    • Remove barriers to commercialization
      • Implement uniform national connection standards, and promptly develop supportive, harmonized codes standards and recommended practices
      • Educate code officials and state and local regulators
      • Assure nondiscriminatory practices in siting and using fuel cell power plants, vehicles and hydrogen fueling facilities


Senators that might be supportive of this effort

  • Boxer
  • Murray
  • Wyden
  • Reid
  • Feinstein
  • Cantwell

Related links to goals

Examples of the type of goals we need:

Goal documents for Energy, Environment, etc: