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Dems Vision-Quest Takes Shape

by Pete Ross

Robin Toner adds to the recent spate of articles about Dems pondering their their "first principles" in today's New York Times. Toner's piece, "Optimistic, Democrats Debate the Party's Vision," outlines the current discussion being led by The American Prospect's Michael Tomasky, EDM's Ruy Teixeira, John Halpin and others about the Dems' future. Notes Toner:

This discussion of first principles and big goals marks a psychological shift for many in the party; a frequent theme is that Democrats must stop being afraid, stop worrying that their core beliefs are out of step with the times, stop ceding so much ground to the conservatives.

Judging by the amount media coverage on this topic, it would be easy to get the impression that Dems are so busy worrying about not having a grand vision, that they may fritter away their best chance in years to win control of congress. But Democratic strategists are doing what they are supposed to --- confronting the tough questions to shape a winning coalition around common values. If it seems a little late for the '06 elections, that's OK. It's right on time -- and more important -- for '08.

Toner's article paints a picture of a healthy political party, alive with vigorous internal debates about its beliefs and future, in stark contrast to the GOP, now riven with squabbles about how much they want to bash immigrants, stigmatize gays and defend ever-increasing numbers of their corrupt and incompetent leaders.

As the Dems' vision-quest continues, Party warriors Emanuel, Schumer and Dean are focused on the heavy lifting needed to win congressional majorities in November --- and laying the foundation for victory in '08.