That's the bad news. The good news is, we have done this before. We don't have to learn to speak in tongues, join the NRA, or start thinking like my evil twin Ralph Reed. We just need to convince a few more people that we'll keep them safe; that we believe deeply in the basic values of work, responsibility, family, and country; and that unlike the Republicans we have a set of ideas to reward and strengthen those values.
I like many of the suggestions offered up in this dialogue, especially Will Saletan's plea that Democrats be the party of responsibility again. Will and I have been on the same crusade for the past year: If we're looking for a values issue that speaks to the forgotten middle class across the cultural divide, we should go after President Bush's other war—the war on work. Democrats should offer a tax reform plan as ambitious in rewarding work as Bush's disastrous plan to protect wealth.
I've set forth a few other ideas in self-pitying detail here. We don't have to become more liberal or more conservative. We never have to take another poll again. We just need to remember that the burden of proof is on us. A minority party can only become a majority party by surprising enough people that it's better than they thought.